09 September 2009

A long gestation

One of the promises I made to myself on emigrating from England was that I would use some of the extra time I thought I'd have (hah!) to go back to the story I started writing on 17 November 1985. Which was a little while ago now. It had been knocking around in my mind for far too long and I needed to get rid of it and move on. I started writing it in pencil in a spiral-bound notebook all those years back, often while travelling to and from school on the bus. In later years, I used a computer to re-write the same scenes when the mood grabbed me. All of those early versions of the story are now lost, which is probably a good thing (although it doesn't reflect well upon my skills as an archivist, I do accept...).

Manchester Cathedral through raindrops
At Christmas in 2007, the year we emigrated, I did manage to get going on it again, but got stuck after I'd written down all those original ideas I'd had. Luckily, before I'd left Manchester* I'd confided my ambition to finish the story to a friend. On a visit back to the city in May this year I had dinner with her and she asked about it. Her enthusiasm for the basic plot outline re-energised me and over this summer I was able to craft it into a (short) novel. I was so pleased to have finally got this thing out of my system. But what was I going to do with it next?

I read Chris Anderson's book Free the other week. Free of charge, online (though it's now only available in that way in the US). This method of accessing the book was inspiring, especially when combined with the book's subject matter. In the old days, you needed to have agents, publishers and printers involved in order to share a story with other people. Which meant that you had to tout the manuscript around until someone decided it was worth smearing dead trees into sheets for (to borrow one of Anderson's phrases). Nowadays, it is easy to publish things online and the whole middle-person thing is less necessary. OK, that also means that there are some terrible pieces of work around, but at least they can find their own market and writers are able to get on with writing and to share if they choose to.

Which is all a round-about way of saying that my story is now out there: set free, sitting on a server somewhere for its audience to find it. Which I fully expect is not going to be the same audience as the people who read this blog (as it's basically a school story aimed at young adults). Oh well, I had to pimp it somewhere and if you've got a teenager lurking around the house, they might like it! I had a lot of fun writing it and testing it out on my not-quite-teenage daughter. I'm pleased with the way that self-publishing this book fits into our general ethos of self-sufficiency. There's another blog out there too, which covers the background to the story and my observations on the whole experience of self-publishing.

*The picture, in case you're wondering, is of Manchester Cathedral, as seen through raindrops on the Big Wheel in Exchange Square. Old, new and raining. Everything Manchester means to me, summed up in one photograph.

9 comments:

Bangchik and Kakdah said...

It is really a long gestation! ~ bangchik

Tatyana@MySecretGarden said...

Congratulations, Amanda! It's a big achievement! You should feel good now as a person who finished such a project!

The Garden Ms. S said...

Congratulations on following through! Nice to have your 'baby' out there entertaining people! :)

Anonymous said...

I printed this for my 10 year old son, Luke, to read when I saw the name of your protagonist. I'll let you know his response :)

Emily said...

I read your story last night and I really enjoyed it. I kept telling my husband that I had just a few more pages before bed. Thanks for sharing it.

June said...

Good for you! A triumph! I will go look it up...I'll have teenagers soon enough...

Amanda said...

Thanks for the good wishes everyone.

Emily - you've made the whole process worthwhile. Thanks so much for taking the time to read it and to comment back here. Consider yourself the recipient of a big hug!!!

Mo said...

Not sure how I missed this post but now can't wait to print it up and read it. How exciting to read a piece written by someone I (almost), know! :)

Amanda said...

Thanks Mo! Isn't it funny how we find kindred spirits through blogs and so quickly feel like we know each other very well?