Some posts like memories are worth keeping. Looking back, it’s hard to believe my social media journey started way back in October 2006 with Myspace, a site many writers (including me) have left in the dust since its focus now seems to be music.
Still, it’s the time I’m thinking of here. It’s difficult to believe it’s been that long because that also means that my first book came out fifteen years ago. Where has the time gone?
I can still remember in 2004, I wondered ‘when’ would I have a larger writing credit out there. Up to that point, my credits had been for poetry, essays, and (mostly) short stories.
Though I rarely read such books, I was in the middle of a decent self-help book. Like many similar volumes, the information told me nothing new, though it’s nice having beliefs and feelings confirmed. One particular chapter talked about not sitting around waiting for things to happen but ‘making’ them happen. Not surprising, but that day, forced to face reality, was the kick I needed.
I knew with writing there were two ways to go. You write what you like and hope to find a publisher or you look for a market, and write for it. Most writers have more success that way, and I’d done pretty well dabbling with both options. For a novel, I chose Loose-Id as a market and wrote a story for them… which flopped, big time. They totally rejected it for three reasons, two of which I agreed with and one which I did not… but that’s neither here nor there, and I’m unsure I can even remember those details now. The strange thing is, I was wholly grateful for that rejection for two reasons. Most important: I learned a lot from their comments.
Determined, I studied what was selling and return to the ‘drawing board’. Second, I was trying to write for a genre I’d never attempted before and the likelihood of my story being snapped up first try would have been extraordinary. With so many vanity and unscrupulous press out there, if Loose-Id had snapped up my first book, I think I wouldn’t have trusted them nearly so much and therefore believed their good comments on my second submission attempt.
So, I wrote for Loose-Id. Why? This is a special question because my heart most lies in dark fiction, although I read all genres including an occasional romance. It’s no lie when I say I like to write as I read, and my library is eclectic. Mostly, I wrote a romance because the first stirrings of a story came to life. I chose Loose-Id because I liked the concept. They published erotic romance, and many of their books were authentic stories, not just a poorly disguised series of events loosely linking a load of sexual content. I had to get over the embarrassment of writing such scenes, but told myself I would worry about what my friends and family would think when I came to it. Before that, I had to come up with a plot so concentrated on a story I believed they couldn’t reject.
I formed my idea in June 2005. In fact, I still have all my hand-scribbled notes, not only for that first book but for books two and three of the trilogy. Looking at them now always provides me with a few moments of smiling. These notes on their own make no sense and some last scenes differ from those first images that flashed into my head, but in that large envelope of messy, nonsensical notes I have my story. But all stories begin in the mind.
As long as there are writers there will always be readers who will ask, ‘Where do you get your ideas?’ The answer is everywhere. Life. Playing the ‘What if’ game. Putting two seemingly disconnected events together. That first book I entitled Uly’s Comet, and it began when I pictured a man sitting on a bench in open parkland and a thief about to steal his money. I did not know who the man was or why he sat there. I did not know the identity of the thief. Later, I came across a name: Shavar, ‘Comet’ and suddenly I had the answers. This story nagged for me to write it. I loved the world, characters, and story I created and lucky for me, so did the publisher…
Sadly, as many of you may know, Loose-Id closed recently enough for it still to sting. A fine business and group of people which did amazingly well and should have lasted even longer, and while I have republished some tales I wrote while with them, I have yet to revisit the world of my comet. I’ve also gone on to write other things, and here’s the point of this blog. Had I not tracked down a publisher, chosen to write something good enough to submit to them, and worked hard at it, achieved my goal, started with social media, I wouldn’t have networked. I wouldn’t have made other contacts, or written for other publishers, and series, including several novels in the Lethbridge-Stewart world (The Brigadier of Doctor Who fame), or even, by recommendation, my short eleventh Doctor audio story for Big Finish. All because one day I decided it was time I achieved a larger writing credit… and took the next necessary steps, refusing rejection.