But, but I have to write. It’s that time of night! Dinner is done, and for the past several months that’s meant turning off the ‘TV’ (really a Roku connected to a monitor and the internet, ‘TV’ takes fewer letters), opening the laptop, and opening the file that is my work-in-progress, my first science fiction novel. Why and why not? The frugal part of me likes the idea that writing doesn’t affect the checking account. Writing’s main cost is time, but time spent writing is much more gratifying than time spent watching yet another repeat of yet another show. Of course, my opinion may change if my book ever becomes a show – but I’ll leave that fantasy aside for now. Today I finished the third draft of my sci-fi novel, so tonight I have the time to write this post and get ready to take a break from my novel but working on my book about tea. Ha! The writing doesn’t end, and it probably shouldn’t for me and for many others.
You have a story to tell. I may not know who you are, and yet I’m sure you have a story to tell. Laptops and free software mean more people can write than did when writing involved cramped fingers from putting pen to paper, or tired fingers from hitting keys on a typewriter. Modern self-publishing means you can take what you’ve written, and put it up for sale on places like Amazon in less time than it takes to get a rejection letter from a publisher or an agent.
When I started writing books just after 2000, there were about ten times as many books published traditionally as were published in the new technology of Print-On-Demand. Within the last few years, there are as many as five times as many books self-published as traditionally published. Add in over a year of social distancing and there may soon be a surge of books written during the pandemic.
Are there too many books? There are over seven billion people, the world is hurting and could use new ideas. We don’t have time to let things work themselves out. We need those ideas, and books are one way to distribute them.
Ideas don’t have to just live in dry, pragmatic books of non-fiction. Serious is necessary, but frivolity may be just what is needed to get some ideas across. My novel is inspired by the dystopian elements of today’s projections, but then has plays with ideas of possibilities. Why not? There is already an over-supply of alien shoot-em-ups. How about a romance story between species? ‘They’, ‘them’, ‘others’, ‘aliens’ are not always going to be the bad guys, things, whatever they call themselves.
Writing costs a lot of time and has no guarantee of making any money. Almost all books have greater expenses than income, and that’s a very low bar that isn’t crossed often. But. Writing a book can be gratifying. Getting an idea out of the head, into a story, and out into the world is one less ‘someday’ thing. If it works, great! If not, at least you know.
In my case I didn’t intend to write a book. Pardon me as a copy and paste from myself via my Amazon Author Page.
“I fell into writing by trying to lose weight. That’s not an obvious career path. I decided to lose weight by bicycling, and figured it would take so much bicycling that I’d be able to cross the continent. So I did. By the time I was done, I’d sent out 15,000 words of emails, which a friend pointed out was more notes than most writers have when they start a book. So I wrote Just Keep Pedaling. The emails tell one story. The rest of the book gets into what really happened each day.
After the first book I realized that I could do a better job and decided to chronicle the life of the natural world in Washington’s Cascade mountains. I’d hiked there for a couple of decades and was surprised to find that, despite the excellent writer and adventurers in the area, no one had taken on the simple task of describing a year’s worth of visits to the mountains. And so the Twelve Month series swept into my life.”
Now, I have written and published six completed books, have produced eight nature photo essays, and am working on my sci-fi novel, a book about tea that I hope will be a fundraiser for folks in the field, and a sequel to my book on personal finance. Oh yeah, and I have helped dozens of writers become authors.
So far, none of my published books have become lottery ticket books. I consider writing a book to be similar to writing a lottery ticket. The odds of a book hitting the jackpot is small, but some of the wealthiest people took simple ideas, expanded them, write them well, sold them well, had some luck, and touched hundreds of millions of people.
I’m a fan of writing, writers, authors, and readers. My passion is for people and ideas, and this is a time in our history when we need more people playing with ideas that might solve our problems.
If you are tired of social media and its too short style of communication, then dive into writing a blog, articles, a book. Writing is an opportunity to express an idea without being interrupted. How glorious is that? You can take your time, edit, delete, save it for later, or share it around to make it better before the rest of the world sees it.
Here’s where my writing led me.
Just Keep Pedaling – a coast-to-coast bicycle road that was supposed to be about me trying and failing to lose weight, but became a pre- and post- 9/11 view of America
Twelve Months at Barclay Lake – from the wet side of Washington’s Cascades that is probably temperate rain forest
Twelve Months at Lake Valhalla – from the cold crest of the Cascades where the fish seem more months of ice than of blue sky
Twelve Months at Merritt Lake – from the dry side of the Cascades where smoke from forest fires can’t be ignored, and neither can the rifleshots
Dream. Invest. Live. – my take on my personal finances and investing for frugal folk like myself; which was published just as the Great Recession began, during which my portfolio survived – but until a perfect storm of bad luck arrived
Walking Thinking Drinking Across Scotland – my walk from the southeast corner of the country (Stranraer) to the northeast (Aberdeen), during which there was much more thinking and maybe not enough drinking
Twelve Months at Cultus Bay
Twelve Months at Deception Pass
Twelve Months at Admiralty Head
Twelve Months at Penn Cove
Twelve Months at Double Bluff
Twelve Months at Maxwelton Beach
Twelve Months at Possession Beach
Twelve Months at Possession Preserve
Firewatcher – my sci-fi novel about an escape from dystopia and the adventure that follows
Tea (title in work) – a less-than-serious chance to play with the simple joys of tea and a few of the frustrations of trying to enjoy it in modern society
the sequel to Dream. Invest. Live – basically personal finance seen as a roller-coaster ride through America’s wealth classes
Twelve Months at Dugualla Bay- book nine of my five book series (do the math) of photo essays on Whidbey Island
That’s one of the things I enjoy about writing, one thing can lead to another thing, and another, and as many as I want – time allowing, of course.
My bookshelf of my books is growing. I lose track. But for about twenty years I’ve had an outlet for my ideas. Each book is an opportunity to make the next one better. Each book is a possibility of passive income, maybe even that self-written jackpot. I asked ‘Why and why not?’ You’re welcome to ask yourself the same.
Pardon me as I bring myself back to one of my failings. One thing I have to work on is sales. I wrote this post because I wanted to fill yet another evening of writing; but this is also the right time to start promoting them for the holiday season. So, since I’ve already written more than my carpal tunnel appreciates, (keeping in mind my motto of “If I Had More Time I Would Have Made It Shorter If I Had More Time I Would Have Made It Shorter #IIHMTIWHMIS”) here are links to the books I’ve written (Amazon) and the photo books I’ve produced (blurb). Enjoy.