I think I found the need to write, around the time of my daughters birth. I started my first journal about a year after, in mid 1998. It was a simple composition book. I wrote my first short story, Amy, in September 1998. The story almost much wrote itself, and that’s when I realized that I wanted to be a writer.
Since that short story, I have written numerous other short stories, and started many longer story ideas. I could fill several composition books with just half-started story ideas from the last 15 years.
Through those years, I have started the process of writing something for publication many times. And through those years I have stopped just as many times as I have stared. Work and life always seemed to get in the way. My motivation was always strong to start, but my writing would wane a week to two into the process. Most of the time, I would tell myself I was wasting my time with the fantasy of becoming a writer. Once I convinced myself of that, I would close up my mind, as well as my comp books, and slide everything into a desk drawer.
Months later, I would stumble across everything and reignite the dream. It was a vicious cycle that played with my mentality like you could not imagine. The ‘starting and stopping’ for me has always been hard. Each time I started back up, I told myself I was going to make writing a priority. And weeks later, I would end up shelving the dream again, thoroughly disappointing myself for the sake of focussing on regular work. To be fair, I feel blessed with my regular work, as I have been in the field of architecture since 1992. It certainly beats the alternative, I suppose. But, it is not writing.
Something changed though about a year ago. I turned 42, and I realized that I had been obsessing about writing for more than a 3rd of my life, and I was nowhere closer to making it a success. At the rate I was going, I ‘might’ get something publish worthy before I retired. I decided to try and take things more seriously. I bought yet another new book on writing and even looked into some writing classes. Yet, once again, life got in the way. I started a new job, yet again, I placed my writing on hold.
Then, over Christmas, my in-laws were in town for a holiday visit. After a wonderful meal, and great session of present unwrapping, my mother-in-law said she would pay for my first writing class if I wanted to really do it. Of course I did, and the money was never really a factor. It was the permission that I sought. I always wanted to do this, but I was so ashamed of putting myself first in such a fantastical dream. Her motivation gave me renewed inspiration.
A few weeks later, I enrolled in an online writing group. It was a group of self guided people just like myself that assembled in online classrooms to try and improve their skills in writing. In hind-site, it was probably not the best choice for someone really needing guidance, but it still did the trick. My desire to write was so strong, I overlooked the short comings of the online writing group. I registered for 2 classes but ended up dropping them within 3 or 4 weeks. The fact that they were self guided left a lot of room for failure. Structure is greatly needed to make the online program work. But, of only $99 per year, there were never going to by instructors to guide the students properly. I know that now.
Luckily, a month or so later, I read about a new author that was coming into town. Actually, I read about him on a site where I had recently submitted a story for online publication. The site was called Juke Pop Serials. It is a site where you write your stories in small chunks and instantly publish. Nothing really earth shattering, as serial fiction has been around for ages. Their premise was that they were also providing an app for cell phones and tablets. That way, the casual reader could read these stories anywhere. Honestly, it is a great idea. Unfortunately, my initial story was rejected. I was fairly devastated, as I though my story had a lot of merit. I still kept them in my Facebook ‘likes’ for a while, and I am so glad I did. They posted a news story about an indie author named Hugh Howey. He actually had written a few books and had been published previously, but the story was more about his self publishing adventure. He wrote a short piece, around 11,000 words and self published on Amazon. He didn’t really promote the story, but just let it develop naturally. The first month it sold very well. The next month I think his sales tripled. I think sales tripled again the following month. It really just took off. If I remember from his story, he wrote the 2nd and 3rd part in November, and published part 2 in December. Part 3 shortly after. He started the whole process in July, if I remember correctly.
Sorry, I got sidetracked there. I read the article on Hugh, and clicked over to his website. He was much more successful by the time I caught on to him, and was just signed by a big publisher. He was currently on a book tour, and he was scheduled to be in Denver a few weeks later. I was so inspired by his story, I called Cheryl and told her about it, and she sounded half interested, and I thought it would be a fun night out. We agreed to go.
When the night came, we almost didn’t go. It was during the week, and after we both worked, neither one of us really felt like driving downtown. Something pushed me though, and we went. We got there fairly early, and was able to sit in the front of the room. Meeting Hugh in person might have been the final inspiration I needed. Hearing his story from his own mouth was more motivating than I had ever imagined.
That kind of brings me to today. Here I sit at 4:00 in the morning, wondering what I’ve got myself into. I started writing in earnest, shortly after meeting Hugh. I jumped around from story to story until I found one of the hundreds I had started before landing on one that I felt gave me the best chance for a first novel. I began rewriting it and it, and around the beginning of August, I fully committed to the project. I finally discovered how to make writing a priority. I was staying up late and getting up early to write. It was like a switch had been clicked in my mind. I started to really focus on the development of the story and I actually set a deadline of my birthday to finish the story. Here I am about a week and a half away, and I will come very close to that initial goal. I will publish on October 1st.
The last 3 months have been a wild ride for myself and my family. From hiring a cover designer, to finding an editor I felt good about working with. Each step became more emotional than I can describe. I can only hope that one day I might inspire another want-to-be writer with this process. Having said that, I am going to blog every other day from now until publication, with just about everything related to getting my story published. If it’s relevant, I’ll post it. Honestly, I probably should have started this a few weeks ago, but I’ll make up for that in the first few posts on the topic. Stay tuned!