I love science fiction. I feel lucky to live in an age where science fiction is becoming science fact–everything from virtual reality to reusable rockets. I don’t just read now, I write too–and try to keep ahead of science progress!
As a child I scribbled stories in school exercise books. These were far from literary masterpieces, but even then the stories were science fiction – and that hasn’t changed. I quit writing but I never stopped reading, and I never stopped dreaming my own stories.
From time to time I thought about writing a novel, but like most people I had a family to feed. I opted for a more conventional way of earning money with a “normal” day job, writing in computer languages rather than English. The dream of writing faded until in 2012 I discovered indie publishing. I started reading self-published authors. That was the “light bulb” moment when I realized that publishing a novel was now within reach, even for a part-time writer.
All I had to do was write one.
While on a beach holiday in May 2013 I found my head once again full of a story, this time about interstellar colonization. While soaking up the sun I figured out how it might work and what the characters could do. I wondered if I should write it down.
I decided yes, and began to write Foothold on an iPad, starting at the beginning and writing until I had some 30,000 words. The holiday ended. I wrote a little more in the weeks following, but parked it as my normal life resumed. But I kept thinking about it and learning about self-publishing.
Early in 2014 I picked up where I left off the previous year and wrote until I finished, writing the story as it came, no outline, just a few notes to help me keep it consistent. I’m not unhappy with the way the story panned out. One advantage of not using an outline is that the story can develop in unexpected ways – interesting for me and hopefully interesting for you too.
After writing came editing, first by me, then by an ex-English teacher friend. Beta-readers followed, a small group of seven. Finally I considered the writing done and passed the manuscript to a book formatter to turn it into something I could submit to Amazon. By this time it was late November 2014, so all up I took a year and a half to write the book and prepare it for publishing.
The Seasoning followed at a much faster pace and I published it at the end of May 2015 – only six months. This book had an outline, which helped increase my writing speed.
The wheels fell off for book three, Serendipity, which didn’t hit the streets until December 2016, some 18 months after The Seasoning. What happened? Day job work pressure, a family crisis and a house renovation project combined to slam the brakes on production. Oh, and I switched to using a professional editor… and re-edited both Foothold and The Seasoning which took way longer than I thought it would. Classic planning fallacy – I underestimated the effort needed by me on both the renovation project and the re-editing. Lesson learned, I think! But I have no regrets about the re-editing, I should have used an editor right from the start.
The good news is that all these challenges are behind me now I’m back to a faster production schedule. For me, that’s about one book per year while I hold down that day job. I dream of being able to write full-time… a day I hope comes soon.