When I Grow Up
When I was a little girl, long before the existence of the World Wide Web, I loved to read. I read books, and magazines, and cereal boxes. I would hide behind my bed to read so my mother wouldn’t disturb me to make me do chores, but she must have forgiven me, because every month, when the Scholastic Reader form was passed out at class, my indulgent mother would allow me to order more books than the rest of the class combined. She also took me to the library every Saturday.
I grew up on a farm, about five miles from town, and so every day after school meant a forty-five minute ride on the school bus. I would have loved to spend that time buried in a book, but unfortunately, reading on the bus made me carsick. My solution was to close my eyes and make up a story in my head. I’d create the characters, imagine the scene, and compose the dialogue. Horses tended to figure heavily in my stories, usually beautiful white Arabians with flowing manes and tails. Then I’d arrive home and go about my business, forgetting about the story until the next bus ride.
Now, many, many years and thousands of books later, I’m doing it again, but this time I’m writing the stories down. A few years ago, I decided to see if I could translate the pleasure I received from losing myself in a story into creating one from scratch. I discovered, like most would-be writers undoubtedly have, that it’s harder than it looks. So, I followed my usual procedure when I try something new; I checked a pile of books out from the library and started reading about how to write.
My first story that I felt was good enough to share was a young adult mystery, sort of a modern Nancy Drew story. I wrote and polished, rewrote and polished some more, and then I checked out another stack of books on how to sell a book. That turned out to be even harder than writing one.
In the meantime, I wrote a nonfiction book. They are supposed to be easier to sell than fiction, but it didn’t work for me. I admit that by that time I was sick and tired of packaging up manuscripts along with self-addressed, stamped envelopes and paying to ship them into a black hole somewhere, so maybe I didn’t work at it as hard as I might have. Then I discovered Kindle.
I bought a Kindle because I was in love with the idea of carrying around a library in the space of single volume. You have to understand that my house was in danger of exploding if I brought in one more book, and I had a habit of packing a dozen paperbacks in my suitcase every time I took a trip, shedding them as I went. The idea of being stuck on a plane without a book is terrifying for me. Then one day, as I was shopping for new books for my Kindle, I noticed an link that said “Publish with Amazon.”
That ushered me into an alternate reality. Instead of spending my time and money trying to catch the eye of an agent or a publisher, I could concentrate on writing. I didn’t have to impress the gatekeepers, only the readers. So far, I’ve published three YA mysteries, a nonfiction book on financial planning, several shorts, and four boomer lit romances. I haven’t had huge financial success, but I’ve received nice feedback on the stories, met some great people online and overall, enjoyed the process.
I’ve also read dozens of stories published by ‘indies” like me, and I’ve been favorably impressed with the talent they display. Not all were great, but the percentage is much higher than I would have thought it would be. Electronic publishing serves as an amazing matchmaker for the readers and writers of the world to find one another, but it’s still all about the story, just as it was for that little girl on the bus so many years ago.