Finding my voice only took forty years…
I’ve always been writing something for as far back as I can remember. Somewhere in the second grade, I and my fellow students had to learn how to bind books, and it was a requirement that we come up with some small story that we would then sew together and glue to a heavy cardboard cover.
My modest contribution to the class effort was a short, illustrated story named ‘Science Cat-astrophes’ and was about a chemist that accidentally turns himself into a mouse and gets chased by a cat.
I continued to dabble with my writing, creating short stories that rarely made sense, but hey, even when it’s terrible, it’s the effort of putting words onto paper that’s important. So long as those same words never get read by anybody else. It came to a grinding halt, though, when I was in college and I had a creative writing professor say “I’m only going to tell you this once, don’t write this novel.”
It made things a little difficult to write after that. I would try a chapter or three here and there, but I could never really get any particular traction and, if I’m honest, I was making excuses as to why I didn’t have time to write.
That changed a few years ago when I reached out to an old friend, just a short e-mail asking them what they’ve been up to all these years. She tells me that she now owns a restaurant in the Caribbean and has published three books and I’m just sitting there going, well, damn.
I finally admitted to myself that I was stalling, but I really couldn’t figure out why. Yes, I was writing up a rule-set for a fantasy role playing game, but that wasn’t necessarily fiction. I wasn’t telling a story. So what was the deal?
I went over the stories that I had tried to write but fizzled out on, and noticed that they all had one thing in common. They were all third person. The two ideas I had made more headway on and just flowed naturally were the ones where I wrote in first person.
I made the connection that if I’m telling the story, I need to tell it like the protagonist would, and I started writing Exit Pass, again.
I finished the novel about eight months later, and let it sit for a while to percolate as I puttered around on a different programming project. I had a couple of people read it, and they liked it, but it still felt a little too rough around the edges.
I started writing Wall of Ghosts the same day I started my training for the job I currently work at. Using some of the lessons learned writing Exit Pass to completion, I came up with a basic outline of the way I expected the book to play out, but I didn’t plan everything in excruciating detail. Just a vague idea. That gave me some flexibility as I was writing things out, and it took about a year to finish.
I also set that book aside to percolate. I realized, though, that there was more to the protagonist’s story. So, I turned the clocks back a couple of years and wrote That Night in the Park, which was essentially a prequel to Wall of Ghosts. I finished that one thanks to rigid scheduling, where I would make myself put aside time three times a week to write at least three pages to move things forward. It was just fun to write, too, so it didn’t take too long to finish.
The Light Rail came about as a logical prequel to That Night in the Park, and it was dawning on me that I was writing the trilogy in reverse chronological order. But, doing this allowed me to plant seeds in the first book that were touched on in the second book, but not resolved until the third. I had to make some changes to the different novels to fix some continuity errors, but compared to the other books, The Light Rail was a snap to get done. Thanks to having my wisdom teeth out, I couldn’t work for about two weeks and I was actually able to finish two-thirds of the novel during that little window of time. All told, I finished it in less than three months, back in February of this year.
So I had four novels that were unvarnished and unpolished. I did some research in the hopes of finding an editor on the cheap, but that didn’t really pan out. So, I used the Grammerly website and in about two months, I had a nicely polished version of the books.
My experience in 3D rendering software allowed me to come up with the perfect covers for the novels, so as of this typing, I’m at a point where I feel I -could- publish, but I’m awaiting some feedback of a couple beta-readers before I pull the trigger and release the trilogy.
I’ll be doing all of this via the Kindle Direct Publishing app, and I will be posting updates as that process moves forward. Stay tuned for updates!