Endings and epiphanies

I write The Book every day so I guess a bit of tunnel-vision is to be expected but even so, suddenly realising that the first draft of book 2 was almost done took me by surprise. That was yesterday and by day’s end it was done. I am now officially miserable, which may explain why I had my earth shattering epiphany today.

Before I explain about the epiphany I should say a few words about The End. For me, the process of  writing a novel is made up of many layers : there’s all the research [fun], then there are all the false starts [not so fun but necessary] and then there is the utter joy of beginning to see the story unfold.

I don’t outline per se. The false starts I mentioned are the closest I get to outlining. They are like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle set out on the dining room table without a reference picture to tell you what it is that you’re trying to achieve. And then, one day I start to see patterns emerging from those pieces. When enough of those patterns fall into place the journey of discovery begins. This is when I start to tell myself the story. No, this is when I start to live the story. The people and places in the story become so real to me that, while it lasts, I really don’t want to be anywhere else… especially not in the kitchen cooking dinner, or driving down to the bank. As an aside I had to physically go to the bank a few days ago. It’s only 5 minutes from home and I could drive there with my eyes closed yet I was so caught up in my own head space that I went right past the bank… twice. Talk about being on autopilot.

So you see for me the storytelling phase is a great deal like being in love – it consumes me. And then it ends. The characters are still there, the world is still there but I’m no longer a part of either. They now have a life of their own and I go back to being just me. They will still need me for the heavy lifting and cleaning, I may even have to sterilize my scalpel and do some judicious surgery but all of that is just ‘work’. Playtime is over. Hence the misery.

Adding to my woes is the knowledge that once the grunt work is finished I will have to start doing something that truly terrifies me – I will have to publish.

Now I know that for many writers publishing is the end game, it is the holy grail, it is the whole point of writing.  And I do share the desire to be read, really I do. But. The closest I’ve ever come to personally getting something published was a few years ago when I finished a step-by-step ‘How to use internet banking’ guide for customers of bank XX. The bank did not commission this guide. It was something I decided to do after helping many of my clients learn how to use their net banking facility. These clients were baby boomers who were just starting to realise that they were missing out on the whole personal computing revolution. And I have to say that back then most banks had atrocious user interfaces. Anyway…. I sent copies of my guide out to every publisher I could find in Australia. Three showed some interest. One actually looked into the viability of such a guide and all turned me down [partly because the banks showed no interest]. So I know how hard it is to get publishers to bite. And going through all that heartache again scares me. In some ways I think I would rather have a root canal done without anaesthetic.

And then at the start of this year [2012] I discovered that self-publishing was no longer just vanity publishing. Could this be my way out? I began to research and learned that self-publishing is no easier than traditional publishing because it requires the author to become a publicist, marketing guru and saleswoman all in one. Nonetheless, as I stumbled on more and more truly great indie authors who could not get published the traditional way, the idea began to take root.

Today my friends that idea blossomed. I was in the bathroom, a place where I do some of my best thinking, when I started thinking about what I would put on the back of my book – the blurb if you will.  These are the key words that popped into my head : aliens, psychopaths, hermaphrodites, murder, castration and rape as mating.

Gott in himmel! What publisher in his or her right mind would publish something like that? Just last week I was reading about an author who was knocked back for having a dwarf and the mere mention of porn in his novel. I’ve gone gender bender with a vengeance and I expect to be greeted with open arms? In a science fiction market that is already as dead as the dodo…

I tried to tell myself that I had only been true to the biology and that these were aliens after all – weren’t aliens meant to be different? I knew though. I had fallen off my donkey and seen the burning bush and there was no going back. If Vokhtah was ever to see the light of day then there was only one path I could take – Indie or bust.

Oddly enough this epiphany, as painful as it was, has made me feel better. At least now I know where I’m going. How long it takes me to get there is another story entirely but I’m in no rush. I still have a lot of work to do and who knows, maybe by the time I’m ready to step off that cliff the world of publishing will have changed for the better.

And maybe, just maybe the world of readers will be ready to look through the eyes of an alien. I live in hope.


Meeks [aka acflory]



About acflory

I am the kind of person who always has to know why things are the way they are so my interests range from genetics and biology to politics and what makes people tick. For fun I play online mmorpgs, read, listen to a music, dance when I get the chance and landscape my rather large block. Work is writing. When a story I am working on is going well I'm on cloud nine. On bad days I go out and dig big holes... View all posts by acflory

18 responses to “Endings and epiphanies

  • acflory

    @ Candy – sorry I’m going to have to readjust my settings – wouldn’t let me comment further. Anyway…..no, Hollywood calling would be hard to say no to although as you’re in NYC already why not put Candy’s Monsters on Broadway! All singing, all dancing Dra-coo-lah!


  • Ilil Arbel

    On the contrary, readers love transgender books (there is a whole industry of that), sci fi is not dead at all, it’s really thriving, and I think your key words: “aliens, psychopaths, hermaphrodites, murder, castration and rape as mating” are tremendous sellers. Don’t wait too long — go back to the computer and finish the book! I think you will be pleasantly surprised by the respons.


    • acflory

      I have to say I’m kind of stunned. Candy implied much the same thing but…it is as far from well, erotica, as it can get. Nonetheless you’ve given me hope so yes, I will soldier on. And thank you 🙂


      • Ilil Arbel

        I know you are busy, but you might want to join a group of authors on either Linkedin or Facebook. It will require some research since you want a group that is sharing your genre. They have enormous amount of information out there that no individual can find on his or her own, and it really might help you on your road to publication. You could use your (very intriguing) key words to find just the right group…


        • acflory

          Thanks Ilil. To be honest I hadn’t even thought of searching on those keywords but it’s a very good idea and I will see what I come up with. I used to be on LinkedIn and learned a great deal. I hadn’t thought of looking for other authors on FB but I will do that too 🙂

          I’m currently spending a lot of time on Indies Unlimited and the authors there have been brilliant but perhaps I do need to spread my net a little further.



  • littlemissobsessivesanatomy

    now im even more inspired to work on my forgotten and untouched story…


  • metan

    No wonder you are miserable, with the Book out of your head there is more room in there for the mundanities like going to the bank, making dinner etc. The Book would be a far more interesting place to spend your time than real life… 😉


    • acflory

      It has indeed. I actually got the vacuum cleaner out today but before I could use it I had to get a duster to wipe all the dust off. -sigh- being chased by six-legged to’pak was so much more fun!


  • lorddavidprosser

    Awww. I was going to write sooner but first I had to rush off to see if I could find a heat pack for your painful epiphany. Then second I had to wait for the email arrive to let me read what you’d written. You see , my day has started with precognition.I’m having these strange little flashes of the future that let me see your painful epiphany ( sorry but you should wear bigger towels) and also the future of your book.
    I see ( btw. have you crossed my palm with silver yet?) no change in publishing for the forseeable future and traditional publishers will continue to take fewer and fewer risks, but since there are still some who specialise in the SciFi genre and since it still has a following you may be lucky. If not, the ranks of the Indies will part to allow you in and having sorted out any tax deals Australia has with the US you can go on and publish with Createspace ( or Lulu, smashwords or any other. Be fair, I never said how clearly I could see the future).
    You will have to work your charm on everyone (easy-peasy for you) and start being your own advertising whirlwind. There will be plenty of help as all your friends tweet and blog as well as interview you. Fear not, your aliens are determined to see the light of day on this forlorn planet of ours.
    So, head down and concentrate now. Get your final editing done and be ready to blast off.


  • Candy

    ‘Gender bender with a vengeance’ sounds like a sales pitch to me!


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