One day I would like to be a writer. I am almost 74 years old so if it is going to be, it will have to be sooner rather than later for my ‘laters’ keep getting fewer with every passing day. In December of 2016, a blogging friend convinced me to write fiction. I quickly got into writing science fiction novellas-time travel. I wrote the novellas in episodes. My goal for each episode was 1,000 words. 1,000 words a day took between 90 minutes and 3 hours. The time variance was due to which platform I used to write: tablet or smartphone or computer. The computer was fastest. I may have missed writing as many as seven days in that time, never two consecutive ones until three weeks ago. Three weeks ago, I finished the draft of my 8th novella. Buried n the Park, https://www.amazon.com/Buried-Detectives-Batan-Philipson-Cases-ebook/dp/B07C6ZN9FX/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1523889455&sr=1-1&keywords=buried+in+the+park
and started to proofread and self-edit it I chose the 8th novella to proofread and edit because it is the easiest to put in a form to self-publish. The other seven have some idiosyncratic writing problems with which I need to deal and to polish (knock off some rough edges and sharp corners). I assumed the 8th would have the fewest rough edges and corens to knock off. The combination of proofreading and editing is the first thing that has interfered with what you might call my creative, productive, writing flow these sixteen months.
Proofreading and editing one’s own work is a bear. A large hungry, irritated, motherbear with two cubs. A Grizzly Bear with sharp teeth and claws. The first time through, I read it out loud. That slows me down enough, so I don’t get back into the story and forget what I am doing-proofing and editing. Reading what one writes out loud is more likely to show the author, me in this case, grammar, syntax and tone problems. It also allows me to catch some typos and innovative autocorrect substitutions. The second and third time through I used Grammarly, an app or software package that reminds me that the English language has two voices and I should be in the active one. It also ferrets out all those comma-based errors I have learned to make in my years of casual, non-reviewed, non-propofed and non-edited writing.
I do need to get back to daily writing. Not just any writing, but project writing—say another novella. I write to an old friend every day. Indeed, I use that as the basis for a blog to which I attach episodes of my novellas. But, daily letters to my friend and his wife don’t count in the writing part of my life—they are important but not done to write. Back in 2014 my friend was hospitalized and diagnosed with cancer. I live some 2,000 miles away and started daily letters to keep my spirits up and his chin up while he was down. That is a whole different category of using words than writing fiction. However, using my daily letters to him as a blog and appending my daily episodes to the blog resulted in my having four readers: my friend and three bloggers who read and comment on my episodes every day.
You have heard that writing is an isolated, lonely profession. It well may be. But, I have three readers who comment daily. If you write, you know what a boon that is. You know how that can lift your spirits. Someone is reading. Yes, 158 other people have signed on as followers of my blog. So technically I am writing for them too. And, on a good day, six to eight may like my post. But, the three who comment, are priceless. Occasionally, one will comment on something amiss in my writing. Many Thanks to them. They comment on the flow of the story, the prospects for one or more character in the story or tell me someone in the story did something of which they approve, disapprove or the like. The important thing is they read and comment. Having regular readers, as I have, has been one reason I have churned out somewhere around a half a million words and has been one of the main motivations for my continuing to churn out 1,000 or so words a day. So, if it is possible, get a reader or two who comment on the story. My readers never give me technical writing comments. Rather they tell me how they feel about characters. Accordingly, I have used the same characters in any story where appropriate. One of my characters, a woman of indeterminant age I once described as wearing tweed like Jane Marple, as portrayed by Margret Rutherford in films of Agatha Christie novels, has been in every one of my eight novellas and the eighth one is not science fiction!
35 years ago, I heard, “Know and write to an audience.” If someone is reading what you write and making comments, your job of writing to an audience is much easier. I got lucky as three readers became my audience.
I started writing by doing a short piece of fiction about a policeman seeing a four-year-old girl jump off a swing in park He took her and to police headquarters because she was an unaccompanied juvenile out after dark. That is story from the policeman’s point of view. I then wrote the story from the little girl’ point of view. Finally, I wrote it from the relevant adult in the little girl’s life’s point of view. Those three pieces required a novella to explain what happened. That became Amanda7, my first time-travel novella and the one I am now editing and proofing for self-publication.
My next six novellas were, to my mind logical places to take the stories of the characters developed in Amanda7, indeed, the epilogs to each of the third through the sixth novella led into the fourth through seventh novellas. You could say, the end of one novella leaves something unaddressed that requires more writing. A starting point for the next project. Indeed, since I write each novella in episodes of about 1,000 words, I make it a point to leave something that must be addressed tomorrow or later. My readers occasionally have commented on my leaving Pauline tied to the railroad tracks with a train coming full speed—cliffhangers or as I remember them from the 1950’s Saturday Morning Movies at the theatre, a stagecoach going off a cliff TO BE CONTINUED.
Cliffhangers not only keep the kids coming back to the Theater next week, and my readers coming back tomorrow, they keep me writing. I want to know what happens next too. Now since I write an episode and publish it before I write the next episode, I have written myself into many a corner. Using this approach turns writing into a challenge for an author. I neither recommend it nor would dissuade one from writing this way. I simply am telling you there are other ways to write than the experts tell you.
I read some posts and lots of the comments on those posts about writing, it seems to be a very popular blogging topic. I thought, writing is idiosyncratic. Here is what worked for me for 16 months. Check out deartedandjody in a few months from now and see if it is still working.
Now that Buried in the Park is available on Kindle, along with thousands of other ebooks, how do I let more readers know and entice them to at least sample it (Amazon provices for a taste of each book)?
I thought I would post the information about my book on Facebook and ask my friends to share it. I was surprised that two immediately shared and eight others liked but did not share and three bought the book. I wrote long emails to two friends who showed encouragement and tell me they plan to buy the book. I have a few more friends to write to, but this is not marketing. I suppose next I need to send a letter to the local news paper. However, this is still not a marketing plan. So, I need an inspiration for marketing that does not cost more than the royalties it will generate. At 33 cents a book that does not leave a big budget.
Warmest regards, Ed