When I was sixteen, I got my first real job. My first introduction to the working world of W-2s, withholding and fifteen-minute breaks was as a retail sales clerk for the now-defunct B. Dalton Bookseller. For a teenager whose nose was always buried in a book, it was the perfect first job, even if it did pay only a nickel more than the minimum wage of $3.80 an hour.
I loved working at the bookstore, which was tucked into a busy corner of the old Southglenn Mall in Littleton, Colorado. Being surrounded by books, seeing the new ones come in and handling the stripping or return of older titles that didn’t sell—it was a great gig for a young bibliophile.
That same year, I started to write a book of my own—a long, aimlessly rambling monstrosity called The Four Horsemen that told the story of a Scottish soldier during Henry V’s invasion of France in 1415. For a year, I sat in the unfinished basement of our house in Littleton and banged it out until the demands of college applications and Advanced Placement exams forced me to abandon the effort.
Over the ensuing years, I made four more attempts to write a novel, always with the hope that maybe, just maybe, my book would end up gracing the bookstore shelves where a reader could stumble on it while browsing.
As the years went by, I held fast to that dream, despite my past failures.
On New Year’s Day 2014, I sat down and started to write, giving life to the rough-hewn idea that had been rattling around in my head for the better part of a year. Three months later, on the night of April 4th, I finished the first draft of the novel I would eventually call The Road Back From Broken. I felt a huge sense of accomplishment, in no small part because of the five previous times I’d failed to reach “The End” on other novels.
What I didn’t realize that night was that typing “The End” wasn’t the end of anything.
It was only the beginning.
And so it is with any writer who seeks to publish. Writing the book (poem, magazine article, etc.) is only the beginning when the intended end is getting that piece out there and read by paying readers.
My friend A.C. Dillon is on a journey of her own, but she chose to self-publish her novels Change of Season and Waiting for a Star to Fall. I’ve watched her journey with interest (and a little envy) as she readies her first novel for re-release and her second for its summer 2015 debut.
We hope that our little cross-posting blogging experiment “Behind the Book” will cast some light on our respective experiences, highlighting the differences and allowing us to commiserate on the similarities along the way.
Will you join us?