I Used to be Undecided, Now I’m Not so Sure

About ten years ago when I decided to take writing a bit more seriously, I started a novel. I was determined that it would be the first thing I would publish.



Then someone said start small. Write some short stories first. Okay, but I still want to publish a novel. I was a little naive about it all back then.

I was inspired at the time by Matthew Reilly, the Aussie action writer, who quoted someone else as saying “There is no such things as an aspiring writer. You are a writer. Period.” Matthew’s writing journey is somewhat of a fairytale. He wrote a novel called Contest which was basically a game whose contestants are representatives from various parts of the galaxy, and must kill each other to get out of the New York State Library. No publisher wanted it. He then invested $8,000 to self-publish 1,000 paperback copies and managed to get some in a few local bookshops, where a sales rep from Pan Macmillan Australia in Sydney discovered it by not recognising the cover.

He now drives a DeLorean. Enough said.

Back to my writing endeavours. Matt Reilly did it so maybe I could also self publish my novel! Brilliant idea! Then I did a writing course. The course instructor announced that 0.3% of all the authors he knows don’t have money problems. I found that little piece of information rather sobering. He was also dead against self publishing. But that was in 2004. Times change, as we have seen.

Maybe I should write some short stories first. What to write? Matt Reilly wrote an action thriller about a game. Hmm. I remembered a logic puzzle I saw on the net once (no links, they might be spoilers!) and thought that abstract little piece could make an interesting psychological thriller. So I set to work.

I had written a few more, similarly themed stories and by the time I started this blog in 2010 and thought I might publish those as a collection first, partly as a practice run for the self publishing of the real thing I wanted to do: publish the novel. So the novel was on the back burner and the short stories were churning out.

And I started running out of ideas.

Did I have enough stories for a collection worth publishing? No idea. probably not. Back to the novel.

Then Story Time popped up and I found myself converting one of those short stories in to a serial novel. Now this was to be my first published novel. I planned to get the serial novel out there, finish it, edit and rewrite it till it was suitable for publishing.

Then I found NaNoWriMo in late 2012. A new idea for a novel. And this would be my first publication!

So my original novel and the serial novel were both on the back burner, right beside the pile of short stories waiting for more friends to fill a book.

I finished NaNo, but not the story. That is to say, I wrote more than 50,000 words but the story was only half way through. So again I changed my mind, the NaNo novel was not going to be my first published book after all.

Back to the serial novel. I’d focus on that and get that out. Yes, final answer.

But I got impatient. I cut it short so I could begin editing and rewriting. Good progress was made. Then I received more advice about getting the short stories out first. Probably a good idea.

After rearranging the back-burner (it was accumulating a lot of stuff), I sifted through the short stories to see what work was needed to clean them up, and decided to write a new one based on an interesting idea from a friend.

Now that NaNo is fast approaching, and I wanted to finish the story I started last year (call me a NaNo Rebel!), the new short is precariously balancing on top of the pile of other WIPs on that same back-burner while I read over the 51K words I blurted out last November to see where I was at.

And no, I haven’t changed my mind about what to publish first. I just haven’t made it up yet!

2 thoughts on “I Used to be Undecided, Now I’m Not so Sure

    1. Richard Leonard Post author

      Yes, true but I enjoy it all. 🙂 Part of what’s on my mind is a release strategy. It may be irrelevant but I’m wary of which genre to put out first for marketing reasons. Maybe I shouldn’t worry about it. I’m not sure. Still undecided.


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