Monday 3 April 2023

Looking Back On My Debut - The Creative Process


Over twenty years ago, I sat down at my desk and started to write the book that would end up being my début novel. I can't really fathom how long it's been. It feels like just yesterday that I was starting to get the book into shape so that it could be published, and seeing the way the publishing landscape has changed since then, it kinda blows my mind to really think about it.

The idea had been planted in my head as a teen, and it was something that I couldn't stop thinking about. I'd just been retired on medical grounds from working life and I was nineteen and looking at a life without anything to really do. I didn't have the funds to start a hobby of any kind, but I did have this idea, and I did have pen and paper and an urge to finally write it out and see where it took me. From first word to last, it took me ten days to write BLACKOUT, and I've always been really proud of it, always been happy that it ended up being my début, even though it wasn't, by far, the first book I'd written.

BLACKOUT was my way of taking an idea that I'd had for years, and making it into a reality that pulled, a little, from real life. I'd been out of school and college for a couple of years at that point. I'd never actually finished my college years, dropping out for reasons that even now astound me for their idiocy, but I was sure that I would get a job and work like everyone else, and I did for a long while. Until I got sick, and my lung condition flared to the point where working any kind of job was going to be impossible.

I sometimes think about young Joey, and how she had no idea that this penning of a story would lead to twenty books published with another twenty-odd written in first draft status. That Joey was happy to have one book behind her, and thought that ten would be hard, but doable. I surpassed the ten after about twelve years or so, and then hit twenty another few years after that. I got better at managing my time, got better at putting butt in chair and fingers at keyboard, and crafting my stories, but I never really let go of what that all had meant to me.

At nineteen, I was pretty sure that I wouldn't reach forty. It wasn't all doom and gloom and teenage angst, but my health was bad, my lungs were terrible, and the M.E and Fibromylagia making themselves known didn't help any. I went from walking pretty much everywhere to needing a wheelchair sometimes, to eventually, but the age of twenty-one, needing it most of the time. I look back and see someone who thrived and grew through their stories and I can't help but be proud of where I've ended up.

You have to realise that KDP and the indie path were either not around, or not possible without huge amounts of connections or cash. The internet was in its infancy, there were no social media sites, and you just had to make do with what you had. I wrote not necessarily thinking I would get published instantly, but because I had stories I wanted, I needed, to tell. BLACKOUT was one of them. The story of Tally, and her missing memories, and the fight to find out what it all meant, spurred me on through some pretty dark days in my life, and I've not looked back since.

One thing that is clear to me now that wasn't back then, is that I was meant to write these stories, meant to be the one telling these tales, an meant to be someone for whom stories and writing are very much a way of life. And it all really started with my début. My 18 year authorversary isn't until August, but I wrote BLACKOUT in April of 2001, so it seemed fitting to look back on it now, and share that growth that has been in my life ever since I first put pen to paper for that story.

Any questions? Lemme know in the comments!

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