Starting around 6th grade, I discovered I enjoyed creative writing, and was perpetually trying to make up characters and write short stories or long stories about them, and I would also pretend to BE these various people. What would it be like for this or that person to walk down the street, play in the field behind our house, or sit at a desk for an entire school day?
Sometime in 9th grade, one of my people became a sort of brother/alter-ego. He was a better musician than I was, and I could aspire to reach the same goals -- or exceed them. It didn't quite happen for me, and when I realized I would have to think about doing Something Else, this character was still with me, and he wanted me to tell his story.
I spent my late teens/early twenties struggling to do so, but no matter how hard I tried, I could never come up with a convincing female character to go with him. In the Fall of 1984, as I walked beside Minnehaha Creek (in Minneapolis) one fine evening, I suddenly knew what was wrong with everything I had written up to that point. The character made it known to me, that night, that he was not interested in women. He was gay, and as I scuffed through the leaves, I had a lovely mental vision of him with the man who would become his partner.
This led me down some pretty uncomfortable paths as I worked intermittently on my first novel over the course of 16 years. Finally, in the year 2000, I had all the pieces in an order that pleased me, and I self-published the novel under a nom de plume. It had a small, select (mostly gay male) following for a time, as did its sequel. Occasionally, I still get a nice piece of fan e-mail.
Not being a good self-promoter at all, the books are out there, but have not sold many copies. It has been a number of years since I last perused the pages of either one, but over the last few days, I began to wonder about those stories again. Kindle readers have become very popular -- heck, I even have one, myself, finally, after resisting for a number of years -- and Amazon makes it pretty easy for an author to share their work.
I thought print-on-demand was a good way to go back in Y2K, but it's a rare person who wants to pay 20 bucks or more for a paperback, no matter how well-written the story. Since both novels clock in at almost 400 pages, the cover prices were $18.95 and $20.95, respectively. They are nice editions, not cheap grocery store trade novels that fall apart after one reading, but still, they are paperbacks.
Kindle books are a lot cheaper, and they take up less space.
Re-reading novel number one, I have found, much to my relief, that it isn't bad at all. Very much a first novel, yes, but I still like my characters, and I still like the way they go about things. I find I want to revisit them and tweak the manuscript, with the intent to make it available as a Kindle book in the not-too-distant future.
It took me awhile to find my submission copies in my computer archives, but I finally did find them, and I'm excited about whipping them into shape. Maybe once I've done that, I can finally begin to work seriously on the third book in the series, which has been complete from point A to point B for a few years now, but I needed more life experience before I felt I could handle the topics of aging and approaching demise in a convincing manner. At age 51, I think I'm there.
Will I still use my nom de plume? Probably. It still resonates. I'm still very much attached to "him." Plus, living in a small town and having a relatively ordinary existence, I'm too chickensh*t to publish any of this under my real name. At least for the time being. We'll see what the future holds.