There came a point during this week when I realised that I was happier than I had been in a long while. For the first time in God-knows how long, I felt content with my lot, that things were heading in the right direction. I felt that everything would be OK. I’m still riding this wave and, with that in mind, I’m going to say something here that’s very important.
It started with writing, as it so often does. Last weekend, I published an eBook on Smashwords.com. It was a flash fiction story, of only 650ish words, called Tomahawk. You can read it here. I only really put it on there to test Smashwords’ system of conversion; to make sure that I could correctly format documents in such a way that they’d work on eReaders. I didn’t include a cover, a proper blurb, or anything like that. I was putting it on there just for myself – like I said, a test, right? I didn’t publicise the fact that I’d uploaded it at all – didn’t post on Twitter, update my Facebook status, sending begging emails to my friends, any of that jazz.
And then I found out that people had actually read it.
This fact blew my mind. People, out there, people that I did not know, people in countries across the sea, had read something that I had written. And liked it. That was the bit that surprised me most. Not a lot of people, admittedly, but way more than I was expecting. More than I would have hoped for even if I’d set out with the intention of it getting noticed.
Everyone who writes even semi-seriously does so first and foremost for themselves. That’s my belief. Writers write to satisfy some itch within themselves. Selfish. Self-obsessed. Their own worst enemy. I think that most writers probably don’t even think they’re all that good. But, once committed to the page, the writer may then decide that they think it worthy enough to impart their work upon others. Maybe for money. Maybe for ego. Maybe to show off. This second process is the part I’ve always had trouble with. The vast majority of the work I’ve done is safely contained in the ‘Stories’ folder on my computer, away from critical eye.
I want to change that.
I’ve put a few bits online here and there. Never really been serious about them. If people liked them, that was cool. If they didn’t, that was cool too.
I’ve always had at the back of my mind that I might have some sort of…I don’t want to say talent, because that sounds too egotistical, but perhaps ability, to write, and write pretty well. When I want to. Some days, like the day I wrote Tomahawk, I hit every note like the expert Rock Band player that I am. Other days, I get booed off the stage, mostly by myself, and come to the realisation that I am utterly shit at writing and always will be and I might as well just give up now and condemn myself to a life of self-loathing and hatred.
So while I’m on the high of Tomahawk, rightly or wrongly, for good or for ill, I’m actually going to take writing short stories and other fiction seriously for the next few weeks. Almost as though it were my actual job. Which, who knows, if this experiment works out, it might end up being. After all, I’ve got a degree in creative writing, so I might as well get some use out of it, right?
At some point last year, I had the idea of publishing an eBook of all the short stories I’ve written, edited and fully completed, and selling it online. Then I got an actual job and my entire life got put on hold as I tumbled down the rabbit hole of depression. But now I’m doing it again, and making much more progress. So this is an announcement.
In a few weeks, I will be publishing my first short story anthology online. It will be called Not Quite Normal. And it will contain stories that I’ve written over the past five years (or thereabouts).
Now, there will be a build up to the launch, because I’m not a simpleton, and know that people aren’t just going to fork out good money to read stories they might not like by a person they’ve never heard of. Hell, even people who have heard of me and do like my stories might not even part with their hard-earned.
Over the next few weeks, while I’m putting the finishing touches on the collection, I’ll be putting up a select few stories for free. Then, on the big day (I don’t have a date yet, this is obviously still a work in progress), I’ll upload two editions of the book. One for free. No charge, on the ‘ouse, without catch. This will contain all of the free pre-release stories, plus one or two more. There will also be a premium edition. Which will cost some money, but not much. A couple of quid, no more. This version will contain all the free stories, a few more bonus stories, and extra content like appendices, and some other content to make it worth the asking price.
Hopefully, that will allow me to get the word out. Build things up. Try and get a handful of people talking. That would be lovely. I think I have enough social media acumen to try something like this.
I’m not expecting to be a millionaire out of this. Please don’t get me wrong on that. I’m not expecting thousands of people to read the free stories, let alone the premium collection. Hell, my hopes are pretty low, if I’m honest. I don’t want them to build too much. That would be foolhardy to the extreme. But I have to give it a try. I need to. And I know that making this announcement will make sure that I work my arse off to ensure that all of the Not Quite Normal stories are as good as they can possibly be. And to ensure that I actually do it. No procrastination. This time, it’s serious.
I’ll be updating much more frequently over the coming days and weeks about Not Quite Normal. I hope that you’ll come with me for the ride and help me to spread the word. It would mean a lot to me.
Thanks, as always, for reading. I’ll see you soon.