The past fifteen months have been interesting for me.
I’ve undergone a bit of a transformation, though beautiful butterfly I am not. I have become more aware of who I am. Perhaps I’m a little more assertive than I once was. I’ve certainly become more prone to reminiscing about my younger years, though I’ve weathered a number of repressed memories as well.
Amongst all this, something curious began to happen.
A constant throughout my life has been daydreaming. It’s partly how I dealt with upsetting situations. I’ve suffered from social anxiety (never officially diagnosed) ever since I was a child.
For whatever reason, the way schools dealt with this issue was to, well, ignore it, really. With nobody listening to my concerns and no help given in regards to how to cope, I was prone to acting out. I have precious few happy moments from my childhood. Unsurprisingly, I am alone in those few happy memories.
The one coping mechanism I came upon by myself was daydreaming. Ahead of any social interactions, I would try to imagine every possible scenario I’d be faced with, and how best to handle it. Sometimes it backfired, but more often than not I found it beneficial.
A natural offshoot of this behavior was a healthy imagination. I soon grew fond of dreaming up random characters and the adventures they would go on. I’d occasionally try to put these imaginings to paper, but finding nobody to read them, typically relegated them to the big garbage dump in the sky.
I never left behind my precious coping mechanism. I still use it to this day, though I’ve made some progress combating my social anxiety. As a result of flexing that muscle for so many years, I’ve also become really good at daydreaming.
Jump back to fifteen months ago. I was going through one of the darkest periods in my life. I was facing the real possibility of having to start my life over once again, both financially and emotionally.
Needless to say, I was doing some seriously deep thinking during this time. I frequently daydreamed not just to make it through the day, but to distract myself from my misery. It was in this daydreaming that I had a thought.
That thought was of an encounter between a young man and an old man, who was sitting on a porch. One had a plasma pistol, and the other didn’t seem to care that it was being pointed at him. That thought grew into a great story idea.
That story idea grew into After, my first novel.
Working on After became another form of therapy, a way to escape. I worked on it late into the night after everyone had gone to bed for the night. For an hour or two, everything went away and there was just Alex, me, and a journey.
It would turn out Alex and I both were on a journey of self-discovery. I found my way to, if not the light, a brighter place in my own life. Meanwhile, I continued to forge a meaningful life for Alex.
I released After at the end of March 2017 through self-publication. I had no great hopes for it. The novel was my first published work and I had zero social media presence.
I swallowed (some of) my social anxiety and forged a Twitter account to go along with my new website(another love of mine.) I did my best to start garnering interest for both the website and my new novel. I also paid for some pell-mell advertising and crossed my fingers.
Imagine my surprise when I almost immediately had people reading my book on Kindle Unlimited, and even buying copies of the eBook edition. I even had some sales of the physical edition. Could I be on to something?
Spurred on by my accidental success, I worked up another idea I had about a detective murder mystery set in the future. Spurred on by the (relatively) astounding success I had with my first novel, I began my work by mid April of 2017. That idea would of course grow into my second novel, Preservation Protocol.
Skip to November. This was a big deal for me. Here I was, a brand-new author, poised to release my second novel in less than a year. Preservation Protocol was longer, more detailed, and showed real growth for me as an author(at least to me.) I even had a pre-order on it for the eBook edition a few weeks ahead of its official release.
Then something curious happened. I only had two pre-orders, and I was one of them. The day of release, I sold three copies. Fast-forward to the present: January 2018.
I haven’t sold any more copies.
I’ve thrown far more money at advertising the book than is reasonable. I’ve moaned and groaned about it on Twitter to the point of annoyance, I’m sure. Still, no takers.
It’s as if Preservation Protocol is in some weird black spot in everyone’s consciousness. I’ve actually seen a recent surge in interest for After again, but no follow-up purchases of my latest novel. Anyone who has said anything about After has been largely positive.
What people have said about Preservation Protocol has also been positive, for that matter.
Needless to say, I’ve not taken the wholesale rejection of my latest offering very well. I started writing my third novel, Something Deeper, shortly after releasing Preservation Protocol. I’ve struggled to find the same fire I had in my soul for the first two novels.
I’ve fought to convince myself that I’m a good writer, or even a passable writer. I’ve walked down the dark road all writers follow at least once in their lives. Maybe I should just put down my pen, maybe for good.
Maybe I should stop working on this new book. Maybe I should delete this new book. Will anyone even ever read this new book? Is it even worth punishing myself late at night by continuing to work on it?
Yes. It is.
I’m not sure what changed between my first release and my second, but what I know hasn’t changed is my passion for writing. Despite all the negative thoughts I’ve had, I’ve never stopped enjoying the process of creating and exploring new worlds. I’ve struggled, but I still want… need… to see what happens to Simon Travers in Something Deeper.
So I will continue to write. I will continue to release novels, even if only a handful of people ever enjoy reading them. I’ve decided it doesn’t matter, because I enjoy writing them.
Just over six hundred people read After last year. That’s nothing over a nine-month period, but it’s everything to me. I will hold that in my heart going forward.
I may never grow rich or have thousands of fans, but I will have fun. I’ve discovered a trick so few manage to pull off in this world. I can create whole worlds.
I can see untold tales from lands far away and people long gone. I feel the emotions of people not yet born, in realms yet to be discovered. I hold the darkest secrets of the most holy.
I am their seer, their scribe, their friend. I accept my duty to commit to paper their stories. I will sing their songs and preserve their names.
And I will always find joy in it all.