In 2005 I started writing something. That something was a simple few pages for something else, but it left me with a question. A hole into a world that was not the original world that I was writing about. I blew off the curiosity that I had for that other place, those other characters. I tried to ignore it. That didn't go as I had planned.
By 2007 I had written several chapters of a book. The chapters were thin, slightly hollow, and mostly just action scenes with some dialogue between, but there was something there, haunting me. I scrapped what I wrote. Tore it all down. Completely refocused the story and centered on one person. Perhaps the least interesting of them all, and made them the center point. I did this because I wanted to learn as he did. I wanted to see as he did. I wanted to go along for the ride as he had done in my original draft. So I started over.
By early 2008 I had finished another piece. Something that hasn't yet found itself on the marketplaces of the world yet. Something that I was told I could not and should not write, because - who cares about a "Choose Your Own Adventure" book about Kobolds? When I was done writing that, I ended up in a place where I had few friends, and when my employment went south later that year - I wrote to keep busy. I wrote to keep my mind from the cold in my apartment. I wrote because it let me escape.
In 2009 I was finally done with the first draft. I asked friend after friend to help me edit the damn thing. Some helped, some couldn't, some did not want to do there day job for free - and I can't blame them. I am grateful for the help I did get and for having the friends to ask in the first place. By the middle of 2009, I had a completed book. I called it Wracked.
Shopping a manuscript is a daunting and odd thing. I looked around to try and figure out how I could make that work. After lots of dead ends, I happened upon a site that helped authors package and ship their stuff to publishers and authors. It was a great site with amazingly helpful people (sadly it is long gone). After lots of letters and a few submissions I got a universal "No". It wasn't a bad no, however. Almost all of them came with a note that said "Interesting stuff, no idea how to market it. Good luck!"
I found those comments filled me with more hope than despair. It helped me ask the question, "Who am I writing this for, anyway?"
The answer to that was simpler than I thought. Really, I had been chasing a publisher because that is what people who write books do, right? Well, it used to be.
In 2009, the market was shifting. Amazon was being more aggressive about getting self publishing to grow. In their push to change the market, one of their emails about Createspace.com found me. I researched. I pondered. I wondered if I could put a book together so that the people who knew me could read the pages I had poured out of my imagination. So I did it. "After all," I thought to myself, "I will never make any money from this. It is really just a hobby and I want to share my creativity with the world." Secretly, I did think it would be cool if someone I had never met read and liked my work. That would be amazing.
It was a lot of hard work. Figuring out all the things I had to get right. Worrying about the craft of making a book, skills I think we all take a little bit for granted. In the end, I had a kinda professional book.
The first version of Wracked was poorly edited, the spacing was all strange, the cover was not my favorite thing in the world, and it was missing some standard formatting that I didn't even know about. But I had done it, and on January 14th 2010 it was available for sale on Amazon.com.
That was an amazing feeling, but the excitement that other people had for my work - that was indescribably awesome.
A lot of time has passed since that publish date. A second edition of Wracked was put out. A second novel in the series came to life. Hell, a novella set in the same world came out just a few months ago. The important thing is that I am still writing. That ghost in my brain who has a story to tell - it is still whispering to me.
Yesterday, as I was working on the third novel in the Ukumog series, I thought about how difficult it is to write. Hemmingway once said, "There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit at a typewriter and bleed." There is certainly some truth to that.
Today I celebrate the publishing of my first novel. Thank you, Wrack - wherever you came from. You have changed my life forever.
Thanks to all of you who read my stuff. A writer without an audience is just a lost soul listening to his own echo. It is a lot less lonely having you all along for the ride.