Today’s post is brought to you by the other me, the one who recently self-published a novel. Oh wait, that’s me too. Here is the link if you want to check it out!
Once upon a time, I had the dreamy notion I wanted to write a book. Twenty years ago, I had a great idea for a story that was unique, and I knew I wanted to write it. I stumbled through three chapters and then the idea was shelved for well over a decade.
A few years ago, I pulled that file out of the archives of my computer, and my brain, and began writing again. I certainly hit a few bumps along the way, but through dedication, and accepting the fact I was hearing the voices again, I finished it.
Today, I have the pleasure of telling you my book is for sale on Amazon. Typing that previous sentence takes it from surreal to real. Below is the link to Amazon if you want to check it out. I am going to excuse myself now and rock back and forth in the fetal position with a glass of champagne!
There are many days I feel like a child who is distracted by shiny things. Yesterday was one of those days.
I had a great chat with my friend, and mentor, Neil. He has been instrumental in keeping me motivated and inspired to follow this crazy journey of writing novels. I knew I had a monumental day ahead, as the 238 pages of my first novel needed to be screened for one final edit before I self-publish on January 11th. But during my conversation with Neil about book number three, my mind took the next exit into creativity and the editing sat on the side of the road with a flat tire.
He had given me a few tasks, and asked that they be hand-written. My pen could not keep up with the ideas my brain was sending. I quickly realized how long it had been since I had actually written anything with a pen, and I struggled to remember how to hold the pen properly. After a few trial runs, it all came flooding back.
Since I spent my Monday afternoon being an author, I had to spend all of today being an editor. I dragged myself out of bed at 6:30 am and spent nine consecutive, grueling hours going through my first novel with a fine-toothed comb. By mid-afternoon, I was ready to gouge my eyes out with a spoon. BUT, The Waking Hours has been submitted to Amazon for approval and I am now drinking wine, and shitting my pants. They really should make pills for this!
Back in July, my world changed for the better. I know that may seem unbelievable since 2020 has been so devastating in so many ways, but a chance conversation overheard by a keen set of ears has changed the trajectory of my belief in my writing and its potential in the fiction market.
That keen set of ears has since become my mentor, and my friend. We scheduled weekly Zoom meetings so he could get updates on the progress of my writing in book number two, and he held me accountable to a proper schedule I may not have kept otherwise. We had agreed on the date of November 30th as the day I would finish the book. As much as I wanted to hold up my end of the agreement, my characters chose to have a temper tantrum and November 30th came and went with no end in sight for my story. I could hear the quote by Douglas Adams in my head – “I love deadlines. I love the whooshing sound they make as they go by.”
I was determined to finish my second novel and promised my friend the book would be done by December 5th. My characters must have been motivated by my uncompromising determination and the words began to flow again. On the day the story was meant to be finished, I wrote 5,700 words between the hours of 11:00 am and 6:00 pm, an average of 815 words an hour! My reward for being a conduit for the voices in my head was being able to write the two words authors love – THE END.
After giving my brain a much-needed rest, I am now in the editing phase, which is also known as the pull-your-hair-out phase. My goal is to have book number two sent to Beta readers to bring them some holiday serial-killing cheer, and to have book number one ready to be introduced to the Amazon world on January 11th. I am hoping Santa will fill my stocking with a heaping dose of courage (and some new underwear). Wish me luck!!
I hope you are all well and staying safe. I have not posted here as often as I would like, but for good reason. I am finally continuing the adventure of writing my second book.
My creativity from March to July was dismal, at best. I could not put together a string of words that gave me any sort of joy. My work in progress collected dust and my characters had self-isolated to the extent I feared they had taken reclusiveness to an award-winning level and would never return. I was devoid of ideas and was deeply saddened by the reality my prolific brain had atrophied.
But a series of chance discussions in August sparked my imagination and charged new life into the decaying cells in my brain. One by one, the neurons began to fire, and the ideas began to flow. The novel that had sat in solemn darkness with only 18,000 words is currently over 31,000 words in a span of two weeks, and the characters are now tripping over themselves to add their stories to the chapters of the adventure I am writing. This is a writer’s dream.
The inspirational voice that sounded was unexpected, but quickly presented ideas that got me excited. The stagnant pool in my head is now churning with ideas. I find myself at my laptop, writing for hours at a time and then having to physically readjust to the life I am living outside of the life I am creating in my story.
This is my bliss. This is the elusive happiness I struggled to find for four months before the muse came back. This is what being a writer is all about and I cannot tell you how excited I am to finish book number two and continue to write the following three in the series.
The voices in my head, the ones I admit I listen to on a regular basis, have been annoyingly silent over the past few months. Those tentative whispers that regularly woke me from sleep at three in the morning have taken self-isolation to a whole new level and have remained reticent since the Covid pandemic took the world by storm. I am not ashamed to admit I miss the sleepless nights. I long for the wee hours when I can wake up with new ideas for my book and the characters trip over each other to take a prominent position to tell their stories.
I have never been one to write an outline for any story I am creating. I am merely the vehicle for my characters to drive in any direction they choose. My responsibility is to follow the rules of the writing road to keep them from careening over a cliff or crashing into a cement barrier. It sounds much easier than it is if I am being honest.
I have always been a big fan of fiction that is character driven. Sure, it’s nice to read stories that are wonderfully descriptive but, if I cannot find endearing qualities in the characters, I tend to lose interest if I am unable to find a connection to the personalities who are telling their stories. I had developed a wonderful rapport with my new characters and am thrilled they felt comfortable enough to share their narrative with me.
But the time has come to coax them out of hiding. I am going to bait the trap. I am going to lure them out of their cushy recesses and put them back to work. They have a story to tell and my fingers are hovering over the keyboard, ready to make some sense of what they are telling me. I went back to my job after a government regulated hiatus. It is time for them to do the same.
When I find myself wordless and lacking the drive to write, I go back and read through some of my past blog posts. Once I choose one, the suggested posts underneath take me on a journey into my own writing. There are not many things that will make me pat myself on the back but my writing has the ability to make me extremely proud of some of the things that have come from the depths of my imagination.
I used to participate in several micro-fiction competitions. Writers would be given a photograph or a phrase and we were left to our own devices to see where our stories would go. Mine, more often than not, led to the macabre but that is the genre where I feel most comfortable, the creative avenue where the words lead me and not the other way around. Click here to read one of those posts.
Not only did I feel the cylinders slowly coming back to life, I could almost smell the gas as it turned into power. The engine sputtered slightly but eventually roared back to life. I felt excited. I felt hungry for the high that writing gives me and then I felt inspired to put all of those micro-fiction pieces together and organize something resembling a chapbook.
For now, this collection of fiction will serve as my inspiration. Those pieces of make-believe will remind me that I have the ability to weave a yarn that is entertaining, if not sometimes disturbing. Maybe, one day, I will want to publish those stories or perhaps they will remain on the pages of my blog. Regardless, they have rekindled the writing flame and it’s time to restore the lines of communication to the characters in book number two.
I am on an epic journey and it is one I have been on before. Writing a book is a daunting task and one I have come to welcome with open arms. This creative expedition is unlike anything else I have experienced. It is an opening of the soul and a willingness to bleed words until the well runs dry.
The moments I doubt my talent far outweigh the times I feel I have captured lightning in a bottle. For each new paragraph I type, thinking these words will be the ones agents will fall over each other to represent, there is a glaring reminder of how many people are writing books and how few agents are looking for new talent. And yet, for some reason, I am compelled to ignore the obvious and dive head-first into the murky waters of becoming an author.
Call it a misguided faith in my ability or a simple obsession, I want to be known as a writer. I want people to read my books and I want to keep writing for many years to come. I have the ideas, I have the passion to write and I have the tenacity to follow my dream. Deep down, I have always known about this part of myself but I have swept it under the rug called reality. Thankfully, the threads of this rug are decisively coming undone and the definition of my reality is being woven in a new way.
I am part dreamer, part writer and part spider, weaving the threads of my dreams into a possible reality and hoping to snag an agent in the silk of my creativity.
I have been picking away at my second book. July and August are generally months when my writing wanes because I am too busy at work during the day and too exhausted at night to formulate sentences. But that has changed.
A friend asked to read what I had written thus far. It was a mere 2,750 words but her reaction to those words was nothing short of amazing. It gripped her in the first few paragraphs and she was slightly sad there were no more words to read. I was elated and that was just the cattle prod I needed to get back at it. I came home after work on Sunday and opened the lines of communication between me and my characters. To say they were chatty would be a gross understatement. They would not shut up.
Sunday afternoon, I wrote. Sunday evening, I wrote more. And this morning the floodgate remained open and words poured out of me and onto my keyboard. By the time I looked up at the screen, I had crafted another 3,500 words and the ideas are still at the forefront of my brain. Thankfully I keep my phone close and utilize the voice memo capability because the ideas just won’t stop.
I am going to continue writing until the impending thunderstorms arrive and I am force to unplug from the world while it passes. One Eleven has had new life breathed into it and its pulse continues to quicken. I may get this thing written much sooner than I thought!
I have been resting on my laurels. I have heard that phrase many times before but never thought it would be a string of words I would use in reference to me. And I really do not have any real laurels to rest on. I have written a book, but until I have an agent and am soon to be published those laurels don’t mean much.
After having completed my first novel, doing several edits and having many beta readers love it to the point of not wanting it to end, I rested. There was a brief resuscitation of my writing but the moments were fewer and further between than they should be. Writing a novel is a huge commitment. It is saying “I do” to a keyboard and a collection of strange characters who slowly become family (except for the bad guys).
Book number two is in the works. A few of the characters have formally introduced themselves and we are slowly acclimating. But their stories cannot be told if I don’t make time to listen to them and jot down what they have to tell me. I know they are eager to get the ball rolling and I am the only one who can give that ball the first push and watch it gain momentum.
It’s time to give this ball a shove. This book isn’t going to write itself!