Fiction, At Last   Leave a comment

It’s a different sort of thrill, publishing a work of fiction.

I started the independent publish venture with the short memoir Mr. Olcott’s Skies because the size of the project lent itself well to the learning curve. I was able to complete the writing in a relatively short time, and the word count was small enough that it seemed likely I could get through the process of formatting and producing an eBook (and print on demand) before I was a lot older. All of this worked out, and seeing the book for sale, watching it sell, and getting feedback from readers have all been gratifying experiences. It was a proof of concept, in a manner of speaking, one that allowed me to take the next step with a bit more confidence.

That next step was the publication of my first novel: The Luck of Han’anga. Publishing fiction of any sort became a goal very early in my life, but through the long years has remained unrealized. As I worked toward that goal, I wrote other sorts of things. Articles and essays I wrote found enough outlets to lead me on in the hope of better things that never quite came to pass. (Book length nonfiction was another matter, mostly because what I wanted to write was not seen as marketable.) But fiction, short or long, while often greeted with encouragement by editors, never quite crossed line into the light of day. I know what it feels like to be published, to see my work in print. To see a certain kind of work in print. But there was always something missing.

I stopped writing fiction completely for while, starting at about the turn of the Millennium. I also scaled back on the nonfiction, though that never stopped completely due to involvement in a couple of online discussion and review sites, most notably the Cloudy Nights astronomy forum. Oh, the ideas for fiction were still there, and every now and then I’d start to write something, but there would be no momentum. The belief would settle in that I was wasting my time, that I’d never sell the piece, and the effort would sputter out and come to nothing. This was not a pleasant episode in my life. I am by my nature a writer. It approaches being a compulsion. When I returned to the world of amateur astronomy (at about the same time I gave up writing fiction) and started a journal of astronomical observations, each night’s efforts resulted in lengthy personal experience essays. I couldn’t help it. That’s just how it works.

I also have a rather active imagination that is bent in a science fictional direction. I wasn’t writing the stuff, but it was still there, a strange sort of burden on the mind that is very difficult to describe.

They say there’s nothing worse than an itch you can’t scratch. When the itch is inside your head it becomes something more than frustrating.

While I was keeping myself busy with other matters, but slowly coming unraveled because of that itch, there was a revolution. I almost missed it. The last time I worked in a bookstore there were no viable ereaders on the market, and I quit that job at about the same time that I stopped writing in a serious way. Late in the first decade of this still rather new century a friend told me over lunch of something called “indie publishing.” I’d heard of the Kindle ereader, but had given it little thought. I was unaware until told that day that you could self publish directly to the ereader market. I never went in for vanity publishing in the past, and remain uninterested in such an approach. But this “indie” stuff sounded different. So I took a closer look, and what I found re-motivated me to a degree that I was soon writing again in earnest.

The first result was Mr. Olcott’s Skies, and it was an exciting thing to see that up and for sale for various ereaders. Gratifying as it was, there was still that feeling of something missing. That feeling has been banished, at long last and over the past twenty four hours, as The Luck of Han’anga went “live” for Amazon’s Kindle and the Barnes & Noble Nook. By the time I finished the first draft of this blog entry the novel had even sold a few copies. I finally know what that feels like, and after all these years the reaction, the thrill and the emotion, eludes complete description. Let’s just say it feels very good.

Now to take a deep breath, and write the next one.

Posted June 9, 2012 by underdesertstars in Books and Writing

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