My writing has taken me on an interesting journey these past years, in particular the last three, where I have slogged away at writing a series.
This journey took me from an idea through a learning curve I had no idea even existed.
I just thought I would rewrite a manuscript I wrote over twenty-five years ago after I took voluntary redundancy from my full-time job.
It will give me something to do besides renovating work. I thought.
Who knows? Maybe people might even read it? Oh, my goodness! What if they bought it? It could help me pay my escalating bills. I thought.
Well, to cut a long story short, (as if…)
I rewrote that first draft from my old manuscript, typed with two fingers on a typewriter with carbon paper and a second sheet for my copy. A few bottles of white ink helped the process. When I got to about page four of just over two hundred pages I made a slight change to it. I ditched the old manuscript as a new story developed. (Photo of the original manuscript is opposite.)
I wrote ‘The Sins of our Mother’s.’ Published it in 2015 as an e-book. Then thought it might look nice as a paperback. Did that, with no real cover and the day I held the physical proof copy it in my hand? One of the best feelings overcame me. Indescribable. The passion beast in me was aroused.
My journey began in earnest.
I will cut it short here, or at least try to.
What I learned is that the first edition, although it was very encouraging to hear people say the best things about it, wasn’t good in so many ways.
The formatting was wrong, there were a pile of grammar faults, the cover wasn’t very good and the blurb even worse. I am such an amateur!
I learned to edit. And re-edit and edit again and again. I was determined to make it better. I learned to format, set pages to assorted sizes for e-books and paperbacks. (Paperbacks need page numbers, headers and footers and mirror image margins, e-books need none of that, but do need a content list linked and bookmarked to every chapter. I learned to submit in different required formats for different distributors. Some require PDF with embedded fonts and in grey-scale, some are okay with a Word 2016 document, but some want it in Word 2003 compatibility format, you get the drift…), I learned all that, but I still made silly mistakes and probably always will, as long as I live. Like one day, I spent a full twelve hours editing and when I saved it, discovered I was editing the wrong bloody version.
Making covers was fun and I reckon I made 112 of them before I thought I had a good one. Failed. Only having limited experience with the program Paint and using Word and Canva as well I was severely limited with what I could make. I needed a proper program but simply couldn’t afford Photoshop, notwithstanding, I would have to spend a fair amount of time just learning it. I did the best my limited education and resources was going to manifest. It wasn’t good enough.
Nobody ever complained about my covers, not ever. But was that an indication it was okay? Nup.
So, I made 85 more. Changed them from one theme to another. Beach themes to black themes predominated. Now I am happy to say, I had major assistance offered by someone very special who knows how to operate Photoshop and is a born artist, who , because she believes in me made them specially for me. Thousands of wasted hours on my part later, I have new covers and I love them! (As well as the person who created them.)
Writing isn’t just about making up a story and putting it on paper. I learned that.
It’s about the first draft rewritten sometimes dozens of times. It’s about telling a good story that readers will enjoy for a few hours. Then it’s about learning to edit, editors generally have University degrees with dozens of years of this work behind them. A lot are writers or journalists, and some are proofreaders. There’s a difference. A vast difference between them and my abilities. But they are all inaffordable. (to me anyway)
So being a writer can mean you’re also a graphic designer, an editor and proofreader. The other thing you will need, is some sort of degree in marketing. Now there’s a whole different ball game to play. (Oh, boy. I am so not good at that!
So, I have since added at least another 20,000 words to that first novel. I’ve lost count of the number of edits. It has a new cover and a new blurb. It also has a new title to match the next two books to the series.
With all this, you might ask ‘Why do you even bother?’ That’s okay, I have no idea how many times I’ve thrown my arms up into the air and asked myself exactly that. I ask, why have I spent three years of my precious life writing books when I could be out enjoying the sunshine, making new friends, doing something more constructive with my home, seeing more of my family, maybe travelling, going to the beaches, reading, getting a real (and paid) job or just watching Netflix.
I think I finally have an answer. Of sorts.
It’s a passion.
A passion that develops over time, probably something a lot of people would like to do and never actually sit down to make it happen. Or they start and never finish. How many times have we heard… ‘Oh, I could write a book about that.’?
The passion grabs you and simply won’t let go no matter how frustrated you feel or how many tears are shed. It just gives you a breather and drags you back by the hair.
There were times I was resolute in giving it away, then someone calls or visits or writes me an email to tell me how much they loved the novel, or leaves an amazing review on Amazon and I am back.
I write a second book. I write a third. And every one of those stories are for my readers. To give them a few hours of escape to another place. A place away from the dishes, the kids, the floor washing and real life in general.
I’ll remain honest and say I am not making any money on my novels or e-books. I am not able to book a trip to Northampton or Dongara, let alone Perth on the money I’ve made. Its ‘s cost me far more than I want to admit. Barcodes, uploads, freight, learning/training modules on marketing and buying copies of my books, cards, flyers, photo shoots and the like, all take away any profits and then some.
However, it’s not about money. It’s about fulfilling a passion, giving something to people who like my kind of books and hearing about their enjoyment level. There-in is my satisfaction.
I am following my dream. I am attached to my passion. I am learning despite my old age and I am giving some of me, to my readers.
Is it all worth it?
Yes. It is. For all those aforesaid reasons and also because I am making some of my children and grandchildren proud of me that little bit more. Another is leaving a small piece of me behind in the National library for all time. It’s not that I need a reason to write, the passion just won’t let me stop. It’s got me by the hair again. So, if you want another story. Let me know. I’ll go sharpen my skills for 2018.
So, go ahead and write your story! It’s the only way you’ll really understand what I am saying. Live it! Enjoy it and allow yourself the opportunity, the heartache, lonely months and tears, but most of all, allow your self expressions. Your words, your story, your passion. We all have a story inside us. Let’s hear yours.
Love Kitty xxx