I’ve written all my life, to some degree. Fantasy, scifi, horror, romance, comedy etc. Yes, I’ve written roughly thirty unfinished novels in pretty much every genre that exists. I never took it seriously, you see, never thought any of it was any good. Until 2007.
I started writing the original Diary of the Displaced that year. I wrote what was to become the first eight “episodes” in about 2 months and put them up online for anyone and everyone to read. I also sent out about thirty emails to publishers and agents at the time spouting about how I was writing this book, and would they be interested in taking a look at it. I guess at the time I failed to look at the guidelines for a lot of them, I was all too excited about what I was writing.
Of course, what this resulted in was a year later and I’d recieved no replies at all. I also didn’t pay attention to the stats for the website that I created for the book, otherwise I may not have given up. After about a year of what felt like “nothing” I did what so many others have dones. I gave up. I lost heart. I’d written some more of the book, but I never bothered to put it online. What I originally thought was a cracking idea for a novel – maybe even a series – can’t have been that good.
I also stopped writing for the first time in my life. The writer’s career, that dream, was officially over.
Until november 2010.
For two years I hadn’t written a single word. Nothing. Nadda. I didn’t have it in me any more. Then, one day in November, I got an email from my webhost provider saying that www.diaryofthedispalced.co.uk was now due for renewal after two years. Had it really been that long? I went onto my hosting package client thingy and was about to click on the “Don’t renew” button.
Something stopped me. To this day I don’t know what it was. Maybe curiousity.
I went into my email program and looked into the accounts. I’d never even added the email address there. I’d never collected the email from my diary of the displaced email account. oh, well, I thought. May as well have a peek at it before I get rid of the domain name. I’m not paying for something I’m never going to use.
So. I added the details for the email account, after faffing around because I couldn’t remember the password, and finally hit “send and receive”.
Nothing happened. The little indicator for how many email were being collected just sat there frozen. Sigh. Oh well. I went outside for a cigarette and came back five minutes later. Maybe the program had frozen?
No it hadn’t it was on 10% collected, after five minutes. And the inbox said 2100 unread messages. Spam? must be spam I thought. Crikey can you really pick up that much spam on an email address over 2 years?
Turns out most of it was spam, but nearly 4000 of the 20,000 ish emails were from folks saying that they liked the book. When was the next episode coming out? Are you still writing this? Have you vanished? hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people had emailed me over the two years since I posted those first episodes.
Some people had been waiting for two years for the next episode!
(Is it too late to apologise to them now?)
It’s strange (actually no it’s not) how something like that can imediately switch the writer in you back on. From november 2010 to May 2011 I finished that book. The first book I’d ever completed in my life. These days I write about two to four pages a day (ish) and I’m now writing my sixth ebook, and I’m we’re still in 2011. In five days it will have been six months since I released the finished version of my first book. Just six months.
I do wonder if things would have been different if I hadn’t given up back then. If the lack of response from publishers and agents hadn’t put me off (How many writers stop writing because of that?), how many books could have I written in those two years? I also wonder what would have happened if I’d never collected those emails.
I guess I forgot what really mattered and was so wrapped up in my rejection from those in the business that I forgot that they actually stand for nothing without the people whose opinions really matter. That would be the readers. I’m so glad that this digital ebook boom has opened the doors that the gatekeepers kept shut for so long. Don’t misunderstand, I’m not bitter about the rejections – at least not like I was a few years ago – they are just business people looking for what they can sell. No different to any other business, I guess. I don’t really give them much of a passing thought these days and I think that in some ways I had some lessons to learn. I just write the stories, design the covers, and them put them online and two days later anyone that wants to read them can. Job done.