I can’t think how I can weave a horse into my current WIP, but I’ll have to give it some thought.
That’s because I feel I owe a debt of gratitude to horses.
Metaphorically, I feel I’m finally back in the saddle after a fall that knocked the wind out of me.
But the equine link goes back way further than that.
It goes back to 1971 or 1972 when I found a box of girly magazines under our house in Hobart. The mags were from the 1950s when pin-up girls of that era posed in bathing suits.
Being 13 or 14, I nevertheless found the photos of interest. But with the benefit of hindsight, I now realise the box of naughty magazines was way, way more significant than I thought.
Interspersed between the photos were short stories. From memory, they were detective stories, war stories and cowboy stories. I didn’t know it at the time but many of the bylines were in fact my late father’s pen names. Dad (pictured) was from Cumbria in the north of England and as far as I know he never got on a horse in his life. But it seems he earnt a bit of pocket money (or perhaps bought me a new pair of booties) by writing about the wild west.
Why this is particularly satisfying to me is I heard recently that the pulp writers of the 1950s were forerunners for prolific writers who today inhabit the internet and indie publishing. They provided fodder for those hungry magazine readers. Yep, Dad was one of the trailblazers.
But it’s terribly sad that for many of them that was the end of the line.
My father, for instance, wrote two or three full-length novels in his lifetime but he received enough rejection notices from publishers to wallpaper a room. Finally, his manuscripts were left on a shelf gathering dust.
I feel privileged to live in an era where I can bypass the gatekeepers and publish myself.
I’ve been on a giant learning curve these past couple of years, listening to hundreds of podcasts on craft and marketing in the eBook world.
With a career in journalism and newspaper management behind me, I feel equipped to tackle a lot of it myself and outsource things I can’t do competently.
The writing is obviously extremely important, but you have to be able to pull together the other things you need to produce professional products. Editing, cover art and marketing spring to mind.
I listened and observed for a long time and came to the conclusion that the people doing best in e-publishing were the ones capable of being prolific.
I launched a plan to publish four novels in seven months (though I had written them over several years). The first three went to plan but I fell over with the fourth when my cover artist’s computer broke down and I missed the deadline. I did get the book up with an amateurish cover I made but I think readers saw through that. Unfortunately, people do judge a book by its cover.
I’m not saying if this hadn’t happened I’d be tripping the light fantastic now, but I did lose any momentum I had built up.
To make matters worse, I injured my hand in a real fall and that has slowed down my progress on my new WIP.
Pleased to announce though that I feel I’m back on the horse.
Nothing I can do about losing momentum, but at least I know I have a back catalogue of four novels to build on (still waiting for a decent cover for #4 but I know it’s in the pipeline).
I wish the eBook option had been possible in the early 1990s because in my 30s I could have been as prolific as anyone going ‘round.
I’m setting my sights on three novels a year now.
Giddy up, horsey, don’t you stop. The fingers on my keyboard go clippity clop.