Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Novel Writing Update

Wow, where do I begin?  There's been so many different things that I've learned, that have happened and continue to happen, etc.  I had started this blog for a number of reasons, of which I'll try to elaborate on shortly.  First, a heads-up for everyone reading this:  I'm going to ramble on here, and I really don't care if you like it or not.  It is what it is, and that's all that there is.

So, I had a few reasons to start this blog.  One was for the challenge, as I had never had a blog before.  I had thought about doing one, and the concept seemed interesting to me.  I guess I never had much of a doubt that I could find things to write about on a regular basis to people that I had never met in person and who might find my writings interesting.  Wow, when I just typed that, it felt like a bad run-on sentence!  But really, I think I just didn't see the reason why I should have a blog.  Until, that is, I made the decision to go full-bore, head-long into writing and publishing my first novel.  So, I accepted the challenge earlier this year, and for the most part I've held up to my own standard of posting something at least every 7 calendar days.

But why else have a blog?  Well, for one thing, if I was to write a novel, and publish it, I was going to have to reach out beyond those people in my immediate sphere of contact: friends, family, neighbors, community groups, etc.  I needed, and still need, to grow a base of people that I've never met, but yet still enjoy what I have to say, be it fictional, factual, or something else (and please, don't ask me what that something else is, because I REALLY don't know!).  To that end, as of the time of this writing/posting, I now have over 20 followers to this blog - Thank You, Followers!!  I'm still not entirely sure why you have decided to follow this blog, but I thank you none the less, and hope that you get some enjoyment from it.

Okay, so I've got two reasons.  Why else?  Well, I suppose I could say that it helps me write and hone my craft.  But in all honesty, I don't feel that way, at least not yet.  Perhaps it will over time, subtly, and in a few years I can look back at my recent novel and one that I did a few years back and say "Oh yeah, I sucked back then."  So, while flimsy at best, I suppose I could count that as a reason.

Oh, here's another one, which goes along with point #2 above:  I want the followers so that I can get more people to buy my novel when it comes out by the end of 2011.  Selfish, to be sure, but at least I'm honest about it.  I want more people to buy my novel, and hopefully to like it, as well as recommend to their friends, family and neighbors that they also need to buy a copy of it.  Believe it or not, writing is NOT my full-time day job.  No, sad to say, I'm a working stiff who has aspirations of writing full-time.  Believe me when I say that I have oodles of story ideas written down already, plus many, many more that will come to the surface over time.  To give you an idea, I'm writing my first novel, which I already have the story idea for a sequel to, plus I am working on a fantasy series that I would write under a pen name (I'm slowly building the details of this fantasy world), PLUS I have a fictional series idea based on a popular TV show on cable, PLUS I have nearly 4 full pages of story ideas for one-off novels, PLUS I have a couple of pages of story ideas for short stories, PLUS I have a number of short stories that I could polish up and put together for a short story collection.  **SIGH** But I barely have enough time just to live the rest of my life, let alone work on a novel or even contemplate any of the other ideas I have.

So, those are a few reasons why I have this blog.  I think the other one that I tend to forget about, and what I had originally planned as a major reason to have this blog, is to write about what it's like as a first-time novelist trying to actually complete a novel, then to set about publishing it on Kindle, Nook, etc. as well as having a paperback version and an audio version.  And yes, my intention is to have the novel available in all of those formats.  And I think this is where the meat of this blog post is: my experiences thus far with the process.

First, can we say "tedious"?  Because that's what I've experienced over the past few months when it comes to writing my first novel.  I guess I knew it would take time, but I never imagined that it would be so tough to carve out time just to get it done.  Some days aren't that hard, but others are.  Think about trying to get ready for a garage sale - no real time there to write, since you are finding things to sell, pricing them all, setting things up, getting the money situation ready, and all of the other aspects that come with doing a multi-day, multi-family garage sale.  Needless to say, I didn't get any writing done because of that for nearly a week.  Basically, life keeps getting in the way of the writing, and it's a constant battle to say to myself "Self, get up off the couch, stop watching Netflix, and get your butt in the chair and start typing!"

To be fair, it isn't all tough, though.  Sometimes things really click, and I'm having fun because things are coming together in my head, and I'm writing done some really good stuff.  I like those times, and I wish I had more of them.  But, I'll take what I can get, when I can get it.  In the end, if you choose to write and publish a novel, it's hard work.  Don't ever let someone tell you that writing is easy.  "Oh sure it is," they'll say, having never done it themselves.  "You just make up a story and BOOM!, there you go."  Right, because that's always how things work....  Give me a friggin break!

I must say that I've learned a ton as well.  My writer friends have been awesome to meet with (you know who you are if you're reading this, and thanks!), and they've shown me good things, and hopefully I've helped them out some too.  One of them recently published her first book (The Enemy We Know, in case you were wondering.  Go on, buy it, you'll thank me later.), and that's been a cool learning experience for her and the rest of us.  Marketing, as any experienced writer will tell you, probably takes up more time than the writing, but is very important.  So many ways to market your book, and I only know just a tiny fraction of ways to do it; there's always more to learn.

Okay, rather than drag this on any more, let me summarize for you just where I am in the process.  I'm presently on my first draft of my novel.  I've plotted out all of my scenes, characters, etc., and am using this for the first draft.  That took me a few months to get that all down on paper, but I used the Snowflake Method of story building, and I highly recommend it, lots of good ideas in there.  As for what happens next, well first is to finish that first draft.  Once I have that done, then I'll read through it all myself, find the various mistakes I made, and generally clean things up some.  Then I'll have a number of volunteers do a read-through themselves, somewhat for pleasure but also somewhat to give me feedback on various aspects of the story.  Then, I'll take all that they give me, plus read through it again myself, and make all of those changes.  Finally, I'll get a good editor to find as many of the other mistakes that I missed as possible.  At this time, a book cover designer will come into the picture and craft a stunningly awesome book cover.  Then the work will be put out as an ebook and a paper book, and I'll work on the audio book at that time.  In all, I hope to have all versions out and available before the end of the year, fall time if I can have things work out in my favor.

Wow, that's a lot now that I've written that all down - and that's just the brief overview!  I haven't even begun to talk about the marketing aspects that I'm going to be doing.  Makes me tired just thinking about all of it.  But, it's also very exciting!  I'm looking forward to continuing the journey, and I hope that along the way I'll be able to get more people to join me and ultimately to say "Yes, we really like your writing and want to buy your novel."  Like I said earlier, I'm at least honest about my intentions.  :-)

But let me know what you think too.  I love to hear what people are doing, what they like, what they don't like, etc.  Write on, good people, write on!


Donna White Glaser said...

Thanks for the shout out, Darren! I hope to do the same for you very soon!
Donna White Glaser

Jana said...

The thing about writing (and I can't remember where I read this) is that you don't write because you want write because you can't not write. I love that sentiment and it is what keeps me going.