I’ve been a writer for a very long time. It started, I think as all writing should start, with reading.
Home-schooled without a curriculum for a good portion of my childhood, my parents made sure my literacy was top-notch. In books I found new worlds, intriguing concepts, shocking plots and characters of all levels from pastiche to multi-faceted. I would spend my meagre pocket money on second hand books.
Reading became writing when I was in secondary school. Longhand to start with, sprawling through copybooks and later, spidering across sheets of lined A4 with a vengeance. I learned to dislike writing short stories for school this way. Halfway through a paragraph I often realised I’d rather have started it differently. I learned to hate writing longhand and tried to plan more to counteract the perils of Tippex and crossing out.
Eventually my teacher returned a short story without a grade. She said that it read too much like it had been copied from a magazine.
No grade possible for the teacher, that is. To me it was the best possible feedback.
I upgraded to a manual typewriter and started spending my meagre pocket money on reams of cheap typing paper and typewriter ribbons.
From writing to getting published
Over the years that followed the manual typewriter became an electric one, then an electronic one, then a desktop computer. I kept on writing: creating characters and listening to the story they wanted me to tell about them. I didn’t write for anyone except myself until I discovered co-operative fiction on internet forums and mailing lists.
Over this time, I refined one of the core stories that crept around in my head. More to the point, I refined one of the core characters: Lev. And finally, after much prompting from a friend who published short novels, I did a fairly brave thing. I wrote down the first part of Lev’s story and let him publish it.
After a while when my friend was no longer in a position to be a publisher and the rights came back to me, I did the second bravest thing. I revised it and republished it through Amazon Kindle and print-on-demand. Oh, and in e-book format through SmashWords. These were steep learning curves in terms of learning layouts and filling in web-forms.
Red Right Hand is the first iteration, the first part, of a sequence of books under the Slip/stream collective. Lev is, well, he’s basically just a guy in my own science fiction universe. He’s kicking back, learning to pass the time and stay out of trouble for a change. Except, of course, it’s not that simple. It’s never that simple. Turns out that some people are looking for him. Serious people, doing serious looking.
On the face of it, his journey in the book is straightforward. A past he seeks to remain distant from is looking for him, with increasing energy. Underneath though, it’s a story about identity – because fundamentally Lev does not know who he really was back then. And if we don’t know who we were, how do we know who we are now?
Lev is also a backdrop, because we see characters move in and out of his sphere of influence. Knowing him changes them. He’s not just a character in his own right, but a catalyst for their stories. He’s not really the hero of the book: they are.
The next project for publication will be iteration 2 of Slip/Stream. I’ve got enough material in my head for a definite trilogy but in all honesty, Lev’s story may wrap up in part 2. I will put him through some rough stuff during iteration 2 – Ghosts – and by the end it might be time to let him move aside and let some of the other characters shine on into the third part. Again, he’s not strictly speaking the hero. He’s the backdrop against which others – Tal, Helia, a few new faces – have their story to tell.
I’ve got some other characters and worlds on ice, waiting for me to have enough attention span for them.
I could do with an editor at some point. And someone willing to narrate my stuff for Audible books. And there is a cluster of short stories just hanging around the edge of my subconscious, waiting to get cleared out. I basically have so much writing to do!
2018 for me also is the launch of my long-considered blog, Grow, Make, Mend – following my journey one step at a time in the real world towards better living in a busy world.