Welcome to the next chapter of the big adventure that is my life. This one, I’m happy to report, is all about writing and publishing.
My last chapter, however, is one I’m glad to put to rest. I call that chapter Full-Time Depressed Person. Thankfully, a sub-section called My Quest For Joy helped me navigate my way out of a truly dark spell. While Full-Time Depressed Person is lying dormant, My Quest For Joy continues and led me to where I am now.
I’ll document both of the above chapters more thoroughly in my forthcoming Medium publication on mental health and mental illness, but for now, My Little Publishing Adventure Lives here.
“You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself
Any direction you choose.”
The Adventure was born
About six years ago I got the wild idea to experiment with self-publishing. By that point, I was one book deep into a fantasy series which I still think will be my life’s big writing project. I was also fairly married to the idea of traditional publishing.
I had studied up on crafting a proposal, querying, pitching, securing an agent and all the other fun side-quests in an effort to reach the desk of a publisher and then the shelves of a bookshop. Project Souterrain, I was confident, would be a traditionally published series.
But then the concept for Project Blue just wandered into my mind one fateful day. As someone who spends a disproportionate amount of time thinking about mental health, it’s no surprise that the contemporary fiction about a young man with depression clung to my brain.
So I decided to cling back. I dove into my first ever Camp NaNoWriMo with a vague outline and a lot of enthusiasm. I wrote 47,000 words and a new plan started to form.
An experiment becomes a plan
The expediency of a NaNo experience thrilled me. In thirty-one days I had written the bones of a novel and suddenly much more seemed possible.
If I could write a novel in a month(ish), couldn’t I also fast-track the publishing process?
I decided to bypass the gatekeepers, the agents, the publishers, and dive into the world of self-publishing.
Like with NaNo, I was focusing on speed. I wanted to self-publish a book with only the bare minimum of resources. The plan was to make all of my publishing mistakes with this one-off, this throwaway novel, Project Blue. I would also document my process and share what I learned with fellow writers and readers. Then, I would take my findings and decide if this was a potential route for Project Souterrain.
The only hitch in my hastily-conceived, not-so-fool-proof plan, was that Project Blue quickly revealed itself to be more than a throwaway book. As I continued writing, the story gained personal significance. It was no longer an experimental novel; it was my debut novel.
Project Blue becomes Dear Blue
As the story of my main character merged more and more with my own, my speed dwindled to almost a flatline. It was becoming too important and, frankly, too dark for me to do the story justice without first working on myself.
So for half a decade, Dear Blue laid in hibernation. I couldn’t understand how I had written 47,000 words in a month and yet the next several years yielded only an additional 13,000ish words. And those words were subpar at best!
It became a recurring item on a ‘to do’ list, one that had sat there for so long it was practically invisible to me. Dear Blue was little more than wallpaper in a seldom-visited room. It was a project that I would complete… someday.
Someday has finally come
During my eight months or so as a Full-Time Depressed Person, my responsibilities were minimal. My entire purpose was to recover, to dig myself out of the hole my mental illness had put me in. I had to rest, take my meds, liaise with doctors and my local mental health team and, most importantly, go to counselling.
Progress was slow at first. I was still spending most days in bed or on the couch, watching TV and feeling debilitated. But gradually, I started opening up. My counsellor shone a light on parts of my past that I had always let lurk in the shadows. As counselling intensified, my recovery accelerated. I had breakthrough after breakthrough and the world started opening up to me again. As we dove into the darkest of my memories, I could feel myself healing. Like someone who gains muscle by lifting weights at the gym, I was doing the work and getting stronger.
Long story short, I’m in a much better place and the work I did on myself allowed me to finally finally finally finish writing Dear Blue.
Now, I’m picking up where I left off. It’s time to follow through on My Little Publishing Adventure.
So what's next?
I’ve fallen back in love with the idea of rapid publication and documenting the process as much as possible. Hence this new blog series, My Little Publishing Adventure!
My plan is to publish in autumn of this year. If all goes perfectly, that gives me three months(ish) for personal revisions, alpha- and beta-reader feedback, the professional edit and the actual publication.
It’s no small task and I can’t promise that I’ll remain on schedule, but I’m excited to try.