Monday, 30 April 2012

The Beginning

I consider a genre novelist to be an entertainer — and that's what I plan to do. Weave worlds in my imagination, give life to solid characters and craft them into stories that will ultimately entertain people. Enough people that is, so that I can do it for a living and support my family. That's all I really want; anything else would be cream on top.

You see, I'm going to make a serious go at being a genre novelist and I want to do it full time.

I'm almost there — my debut. It's 75% done. Edited as I go and carefully eyeballed by my wife of seven years who is herself, midway through a PhD in Literature. My work is not her genre at all but she says that it flows and works well enough for her to have confidence in my abilities.

We have two children - I look after them most of the time as a stay at home Dad. I must say, it has been quite a challenge. (As I wrote the previous sentence my three year old daughter just came into my study to ask for assistance in the bathroom.) Writing with children is almost impossible. Almost. You just have to find new ways. Mine is 3am starts. Strong coffee, industrial strength ear protection and a dark room where I can get lost inside my imagination. I get maybe three or four hours before it begins. It's not hard, raising children, just relentless. I swear to you that I must hear the word "Daddy" 1000 times a day. Dawn till Dusk - 7 Days a week. It's on. Children under five. I know your smiling, if you've been there. You know. If you haven't, well lets just say it's something you just have to experience. Then you'll understand what me and the other one is snickering about. My children, in particular, are so pervasive they even interrupt my internal dialogue. I might be imagining a scene in my head while doing the dishes (I can't actually write, fingers to keyboard, while they are conscious.) It's going really well, but like stacking a house of cards, it's a fragile and delicate process. I have to remember all this, down to the inflection in a characters voice. It's pure brilliance.

 "Daddy - have you seen my fluffy dog?"

Argh. Even the shrill pitch of her sudden voice has startled me. <-- Poof --> it's all gone.

At least my boy goes to school now. Six hours of semi-respite. Only 500 "Daddy's". Still have 20 months until the girl goes too. I shouldn't be counting that down - but I am: 634 Days or 15,200 hours. Hmm - 20 months still sounds easier to deal with.

I check out the bios of various Authors to see how they do it. Most of them live with a very supportive partner and some sort of cute animal that keeps them company. No children. None of the successful authors - or even mid-listers seem to have children. I completely understand why. If you want to be a novelist, and do it for a living, then children might not be for you. But there are successful exceptions to the rule and I plan to be one of them.

I'm forty now. I've done a dozen jobs, mostly in creative arts or in some other role that can use my abilities as a communicator but I've also had my fair share of mundane and menial. You know the ones. They appear in the resumes of starving artists, musicians and actors. I've done those too. I could just never seem to stabilize in a single career. Find your passion, they would say. Well my ultimate passion is — dreaming! They say it is a bit hard to make coin doing that. Hmm, perhaps.

I love playing with my imagination and the concept of writing it down and selling it as entertainment has always held the great promise of a "lifestyle of choice". How hard could it be? We both know the reality of that is, well... difficult. First of all  — you have to be good. (Let's move past that foundation for the moment, in the interests of progression) Then you have to chase an agent who would in turn have to chase a book deal. Then you have to sign your rights away for a meager advance, wait a year or two for income. The whole process is insufferable, it takes so long. I just can't wait. I have a family to support.

But... (cue the slow building inspirational music of your choice)... A glimmer. A hope. I begin to hear rumors on the internet. There are those who are leading the way to a new path. I hear a name whispered. Konrath — J.A. Konrath. He speaks of a new sorcery, the power of self-publishing. Not for vanity, but for mass consumption. How can this be? He is called a heretic by some. His words are poison in the minds of new authors who wish to publish. Heed them at your own peril, I am warned. But his words intrigue me, like a sparkly lure, I'm hooked, awed by the possibilities. I hear names like Hocking and Locke. They have used the power themselves. And it is good. Then I understand. Amazon Kindle. e-publishing. I too can have the power. Now all I have to be is — good. Apart from that, nothing and no one can stand in my way.

He shows me, that it can be done. It shall be done.

Five and a bit chapters to go. Final edit and proof reading by the love of my life. (Handy having her by my side; she marks undergraduate essays and is heavy with the red pen. She is ruthless with me, especially if I tick her off prior to a reading. The things I do to ensure brutal honesty.)

Lets say by July this year I plan upload my debut creation to the Amazon Kindle network. I'll press the "go" button and watch. I am Indie published! (It's only taken about ten years.)

Of course I know that is only really step one in a long journey of self promotion and marketing. Advice has been to increase my digital footprint well in advance to the launch.

Blogging... that's one. (But don't expect a daily entry.)
Facebook. <groan>.
Twitter - probably not.
My own website. It will come. Small steps.

This blog is more about the journey. A dialogue of how it all happened — and where it all began. 

Anyway, in case you were wondering, I'm not going to tell you what my novel is about. Not yet at least. You'll have to wait and see. But it is coming. And because you are here — you will have known it, from the beginning.

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