Thank you for joining me for this special REFLECTIONS post. As I look at the past two years of writing, I reflect at how my life has changed, and what direction it has taken for the good and bad. Writing has helped me to understand the world from a different perspective, and not to take anything for granted.
For 26 years, I worked at a mental institution as a cleaner. Due to an injury to my lower back, I had to resign from my position, and go out on worker’s compensation. I was diagnosed with bulging discs and moderate to severe stenosis, and was told that a series of nerve blocks would cure the problem. These didn’t work, however, and I am still having a great deal of pain, but I manage as best as I can with household chores. I’m not blaming anyone, part of it is in fact due to my weight, and I’ve had that problem since my early 20’s.
But in the absence of work, I have spent my time writing. Some people may think that I’ve given up with work, or am lazy, but this isn’t true at all. I have worked many different jobs, and have had many experiences that are worthy of a book. Many of them were very physical and at one time, I felt I was in the best shape of my life. The truth is I’m getting tired. I was also diagnosed with Afib about 2 years ago as well, and am on medication. If I do get another job, it will be a much easier one, and less hours. I’m getting older now, and I would like to set a new goal in my life-to write at least one novel a year, and at least two children’s books a year.
I amazed myself this past two years. Dimension Lapse had sat in my drawer for years and years, and I’d occasionally pick it up to work on here and there. I had started it way back in 1984, but couldn’t seem to pull it together. I had also written a couple of novels when I was 12 that I hope to put together in the future, but they will take some very extensive overhaul in writing and editing. Dimension Lapse came later, but it was still my number one project until recently.
In Fall of 2013, I pulled it out again. I had heard of self publishing, and was very interested, after piles and piles of rejection letters from traditional publishers. I thought for sure that my dream of becoming a writer was just a dream, and would never become a reality. After searching the web, I found a couple of publishers that offered free publishing, and read their guidelines for formatting very carefully.
This was the first part of the battle-the editing. And believe me, if you’ve ever done it, it can be monotonous and boring, but it has to be done, and done well. Dimension Lapse was at first a major disaster, with pages formatted incorrectly, spelling and punctuation errors, uneven pages, and so on. It took several rewrites to finally get it right. I was finally pleased with it after the 6th version. I spent many winter nights at the computer to 2:00 in the morning, racking my brains, trying to get things right. I said to myself, I wouldn’t do that again without some help.
So I went to a writer’s group thinking it would help, and yes, in some ways in did. I learned the correction punctuation, and I learned what others thought of my work. That was my next mistake, listening to what other writers think, but everyone has their own opinion of how a sentence “should sound.” I also found this group sort of frowned upon self published authors. I asked one author who has three novels out how it was working out for her, and she said,”Alright, but I could be selling more books.”
I asked her how long did the publishing agency promote her books, and she told me they only did so for six months, then it was up to her. I chose self publishing because I am in control and decide how long I will promote a book, how many copies I need, and what I want to write, not an editor’s opinion. This, however, does not mean that I don’t use one.
On my second novel Return To Doomsday, I asked my wife to edit, as well as a family friend. My good friend Don Massenzio, who is also a writer of the Frank Rozanni detective series, did some editing for me, but his time constraints on his own projects overwhelmed him, and he didn’t have time to work on mine, which is totally understandable-writing takes a lot of your time. Anyway, with the help of two other people, I came up with a much better product, and a much more detailed story. The formatting, however, has always been my job, and can be tricky if you don’t learn how to do it correctly.
Which brings us to the covers. UGH! I cannot stress how important a good cover can be to the book; you need something that catches the reader’s eyes, and a blurb that compels you to pick it up and not put it down. I’ve had problems with this as well. When I downloaded the cover template I found it extremely hard to use, so I decided to go with their generically produced cover. That was my third mistake!
To make a long story short, I managed to find a fairly cheap($10 a month) program called Adobe Lightroom. It was perfect for what I needed it for, but it is unusable for smashwords. I used Printmaster for that one, but now my pc is infected with a virus, and unusable as well! UGH! I found that Lulu has their own cover creator that is actually very user friendly, if you can get through all the other steps involved.
Writing the sequel to the first novel has inspired me to write the series into seven different books, which I hope to complete within the next ten years. But after I finish the third installment, which I hope to call Dimensional Breakdown, I will probably move onto two more childrens’ books, and a possible new series based on the novel I wrote when I was 12, which is similar to the Lord of The Rings.
When I first started writing, I had no idea what I was doing. Now, I feel that it is a process, and once you learn it, the rest is easy. I feel more seasoned as an author, and actually have given self published writers advice how to publish. Although I’m still learning myself, I feel more confident in my creative abilities. My juices flow some nights, and writing can be like a narcotic if you love doing it.
But where is the bad part, you say? The bad part is the lack of sales, the fact everyone reads on devices that can download books for free, and the lack of local bookstores that will carry your works. I was only able to find one in the area who took my books, and he hasn’t sold many. Even book signings are tough, although not impossible. The book store market is still geared towards the big distributors and publishers. Most of the books I’ve sold, I’ve sold myself.
But you can’t be a good writer if you’re just writing for the money. You have to do it because it is your passion, your reason for living. When I first started, I was hooked, and have been doing it since, whether it be stories, novels, or journals. I even kept a dream journal once to try to decipher what the dreams meant, and why I had that particular dream.
My wife and I have had it rough in the past few years, but I’m not asking for sympathy. There are billions of other people in this world with worst ones. My moto is this: If you have a roof over your head, food in your mouth, and someone to love, you’ve got more than anyone can ask for. Tomorrow, we’ll return to our back to the futuristic movie series. Until then, take care of those you love and have a nice day!