One: The Making of a Novel
There are a ton of stories sitting in people’s heads or on their desks and computers that will never see the light of day. When I was a kid, I spent a lot of time making up stories for my toys long before I put my hands on a video game controller.
When I was in school, I did some early writing, but then dropped off of it and really did not think about it again until I was in my late teens. In between delivery runs, I wrote a novel about the afterlife, which I hope everyone will get to read next year. To think now that I wrote a novel by hand amazes me, even more because I stopped writing again around age 20 and did not write again until age 30.
A good friend of mine had me pick a book to read from her collection and I picked What Dreams May Come. I had already watched the movie and wanted to read the book. I really enjoyed it and read it cover to cover within a few days, something I never did before. I wanted to resurrect that old book about the afterlife and so I began the writing process.
Before I knew it, I had written that novel and a second that was much more action oriented, but also based on the afterlife. Again, I hope to have those out in the future, but during this time, I began thinking about my life and the changes I had undergone.
Even though it had been more than a few years, my mother death was still in my mind more often than I thought it would be. I was lucky because I had many friends who were there to help me even though I felt I could do it all alone. I began to realize that since then I had withdrawn more. Sure, I hung with friends, but I valued being alone and kept thinking it was the best. I even began to think being alone was a virtue and it made me better, stronger. I believed I could adapt to anything life threw my way.
Strangely enough at the same time I turned to humor to make me feel better and had been a longtime member of the comedy site Something Awful. Since I was writing, I hung out in the creative message boards and one day I saw a post asking what would you do if you woke up one morning and everyone disappeared.
What captured my attention was not so much the premise, but that many people replied that they would not be that affected. Some people talked about how it would be fun or that they are alone all the time anyway so they would adapt. It made me think about my own feelings and I realized that most of these people don’t get what being truly alone is.
Later I talked with my sister about the question and told her I wanted to write a story about it. She loved the idea being a horror and Stephen King fan. I told my sister I didn’t want to write your standard last man on earth story and that it had to be about the character not so much the environment. I decided to take a part of my feelings and pull and stretch at it until Timothy was created.
Timothy is a 20-year-old man who believes he is dealing with the death of his father, who just a year prior was killed by a drunk driver. He believes it is his mother Martha and sister Ashley who are putting their own issues onto him. Timothy is smart, perhaps too smart for his own good and having to deal with his family and his girlfriend Christine, believes he just might be better off alone.
The next morning Timothy awakens to a world of one. Now Timothy not only has to find out how everyone disappeared, but why he is suddenly plagued by visions of his recent past. What keeps going through his head is something his sister told him the night before.
When you’re all alone and the only voice you can hear is your own, you find out the truth about yourself.
I wanted this story to be a mystery as well as a tale about how we view our life and how we deal with it. My hope was to put a new spin on these types of stories and when it was done, all I wanted was for people to see it.
The problem is you can never get a story 100% right. You can read it a million times, edit it, have friends and people you do not know read it. However, each time you come back and look at it you will feel something isn’t right. Also, you know there are people who want nothing more than to rain on your parade and no matter how many times you say it does not matter, you do care what people think of your work.
Getting something published is like becoming a movie star. You can be a great actor or not, you can be lucky or you are not. What I mean is there will always be great, new stories out there people will never see for many reasons be it that you are not well known, you don’t know people who can help you, you don’t have money or all of the above.
This is not to say I think my story is great or even new because I frankly do not know. The point is, many people will become discouraged by publishing houses that rather push out books from reality stars than spend the time on an up and coming writer.
What did I do, I stepped away and worked on my other novels. I was scared. Scared to fail, scared it wasn’t good enough, scared to succeed. However, I kept writing and I thought that was good enough. As time went on I came back to the story and polished it over and over, but I was never trained in writing and even with friends who read it for me and helped me edit it, I felt there must be a mistake I missed, a typo, a comma missing, something.
Finally, a good friend told me to just do it. Forget the rewrites and get it out there. Sounds simple and in the end it was. Places like Amazon and Google and even ITunes makes it simple to self-publish. The hardest part is letting go and putting it out there.
There was more editing that I did to try to catch what I could and I formatted it to look good on phones or Kindles or what have you. In the end, I had to let it go and admit I could not do any more. In my heart, I know the story is good, in my mind I assume it is not perfect, but it does not matter because it is out there.
This is the part where I say give me book a look, but honestly not so much because I think it is a great story, even though it is. This is for anyone and everyone who wants to write. I want them to see that a guy who misspells a lot, messes up with grammar and fears criticism can put something out there. I hope if nothing else it makes you say “If he can do it so can I.” I want to see more people self-publish and get their stories out because we know most movies and television have exhausted their supply of decent stories, we need new blood.
No matter what happens I will continue writing. Even writing for these websites and as part of my day job, I get a little bit better. If you need the key to this here it is, keep writing and don’t let your work sit forever. We are all waiting for you.
My book One can be found in the Amazon Kindle bookstore.