Ten long years ago this Sunday, in just the third post of my year-long 2010 personal writing challenge, I sat down at my not-fancy Target-sourced desk and hammered out A Man Alone. I still specifically remember writing that post, believe it or not, on one of those cold, blustery February nights that seemed more common in the ‘aughts, while the wife was watching some reality show in the family room. The post itself was meant to be nothing more than an exercise to see if fiction was a thing I could remotely hope to write, one more 1000-word sprint that I didn’t figure I’d ever give a second thought.
Then something funny happened. The people who read that post told me they wanted to know what happened next time. And, to be honest, I kind of wanted to find out what happened with that man myself. So I went back to him a week or so later, and then again and again after that.
It was probably 3 months before I ever dared to dream I might actually turn it into a novel. But 18 or so months later, after more than a few stops and starts and dozens of day-dreaming evening commutes where I puzzled over working out an actual plot, I wrote “The End”, the last two of the 98+ thousand words that ultimately made up the original draft for Famine.
I might have stopped there and locked the file into the theoretical trunk. After all, lots and lots of writers wilt like a old timey movie damsel with a fainting couch at the thought of sharing their mad ravings with anyone else. But I’m the kind of crazy that gets pitying looks from the Mad Hatter, and it was going to eat away at me until a few people had a chance to do what I assumed would be kindly slogging through that first draft before telling me not to quit my day job.
Well, they did tell me not to quit my day job, but that’s kind of good advice for writers in general. Do not quit your day job unless you’ve already published something that’s in its seventh printing and your last name is either Rowling or King. Getting by in this business is hard, yo.
At any rate, I picked a handful of people whose opinions I trusted, who I knew who would give me actually constructive advice and were most decidedly not likely to blow smoke up my, well, anywhere, and I let them have my baby novel. What I got back from those first few readers took my a bit by surprise, much like the Greeks took the Trojans a “bit” by surprise. Where I was expecting the proverbial sad pat on the head and a look of patient chagrin more likely to accompany that one kid in kindergarten art class eating paste, instead they told me that Famine was, like, good. That is, engaging, well-paced, and genuinely interesting. As as added bonus, they usually demanded to know when I’d be writing a follow up.
The book wasn’t perfect, of course, there were notes and other suggestions for improvement (there are always ways to improve). It proved to me, though, that the thing was worth pursuing. And so I revised and revised and revised.
Finishing that manuscript was just the first leg of the twisty, turn-y journey my writing career has taken over the past 10 years. There have been some highs along the way, and to be sure, quite a few lows as well. Times that I thought, This is finally it, this is The Moment! only to have the rug, the dishes, the floorboards, and, lest we forget, my pride all yanked out from under me.
But despite all the dishes, the floorboards, and yes, the assault to my precious pride, I’ve managed to keep plodding along on my journey. More slowly at some times than others, certainly, but always moving forward.
Which brings me to the matter at hand.
I am delighted to announce that in just a few short weeks, Famine, the first novel I ever wrote, will also become my debut. It’s set to be published under the pen name J. R. Andrews, and while I don’t have a date set in stone just yet, trust that it’s coming very very soon. When released, it will be available from your favorite fine book retailer on the interwebs or in real life, and potentially even at the library of your choosing.
How will you find it, you ask? As it happens, the book has a pretty recognizable cover, and I could barely wait to share it with you!
So that’s it! Stay tuned for more updates on Famine, including and especially for the official date of release. You can also follow my authorial alter ego, J. R. Andrews, on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Don’t be a stranger, come say hello!