Today, I have seen the culmination of one of the major goals that I wanted in life. It was almost 20 years in the making, but I finally get to see the published effort that started so long ago. Threads of Chaos: Book of the South is now on sale through Amazon.com, the first of several distribution points. Sometime in 1996 I began putting the ideas together on paper . . . well digital paper anyway. Back then, I was newly married, just bought a ramshackle house in the poor area of town because of the birth of my second son. We both were working full time, but I was also going to school part time as well as teaching martial arts on a regular basis. It wasn’t a happy time.
With all the things that life has in store for us, all the obstacles, challenges, and such, it took about five years for me to finish the first draft, which, by the way was over 280,000 words (A novel typically begins around 40 to 60 thousand words). In fact, it seemed doomed from the start. I lost the first couple of chapters right away due to a power outage. Back then, I didn’t have an autosave feature on my computer, but I started over, this time obsessively saving my work to the hard drive in addition to one or two floppy discs.
By the time I was finished with the rough, I had it on several discs and at least two computers plus a laptop that I got from a friend which was the final ‘writing utensil’. I didn’t immediately try to get the book published. There were a number of excuses why. I had an idealism thing back then about selling my work, but that was just a cover. Most of my other writings had already been rejected numerous times, several stories and even my first book, summarily dismissed for whatever reasons. Mostly, it just boiled down to a couple of things: belief and fear. Fear is the easy one. Like most people, I didn’t want to be rejected . . . again. Especially something that I had spent significant amounts of time working on. Belief is a more complex problem. I was raised to believe that creative endeavors were only something I should do in my spare time. That they could never amount to anything. I was raised to believe that going to school and getting a ‘good’ job (whatever that means) is the right thing to do.
For many years I told myself that wasn’t true, but deep inside me, in my unconscious drives, I believed it. Deeply. Still do. Though I am aware of the belief now. So, I struggled with finding a ‘good’ job. I even went back to school. First for my Bachelor’s degree, then for my Master’s. But I digress . . . .
At some point, I overcame my fears of rejection and started shopping my manuscript around. By then, I had all but given up on writing. By then, my daughter was born and I was heavily into trying to be a responsible bread winner, even though it was mostly an effort at keeping the house of cards from collapsing due to a stray gust. As anticipated, I was rejected over and over, but I got a lucky strike. I found a small publisher that accepted my manuscript. It was a boutique operation run by a handful of people. A few weeks later, the owner of the business had a stroke, or a heart attack, I don’t remember which, and all operations ground to a halt. It was some time before she recovered enough to go back to work with very little of the staff that was helping before. She sent my manuscript back, rejecting it after ‘further review’. I put the manuscript away. Went back to school to get an education and a better job.
Belief had won the day.
I suppose the point here is, I never gave up. Even when I thought I had. As I wrote in the beginning of the book, I would take it out every now and then and work on it. Rewrites, edits, and organization of ideas. I did this periodically throughout the latter part of my life.
I am now 43 years old. I have four wonderful children who are struggling towards their own goals in life, but am no longer married. In fact, my whole house of cards finally did crumble. I’ve never found that ‘good’ job that my father consistently tells me to get. The education was great. One of my passions is learning new things, but am I using that education? Nope. Currently, I am not even working in the field that I am educated in. Because, like so many things in life, education is only a piece.
Already, I have been asked “Why this book? Why not a self-help book or something like that?” As a longtime coach it would seem a natural thing to do. It is also a big marketing recommendation to do something related to coaching. I have indeed started a few books based on what I coach about, but it mostly boils down to this: I enjoy writing fiction.
But why Fantasy? Because! The first book I ever read was a novel by Piers Anthony, called Castle Roogna, which hooked me on reading. Fantasy, then, became the first genre I devoured on a regular basis. From there, I moved to others: science fiction, horror, contemporary, and then onto non-fiction. Naturally, when I began writing back in elementary school, it was based largely in what I knew best. Fantasy.
However, while the setting is fantasy based, the characters are people, struggling with overwhelming odds, including deep seated beliefs and problems. In fact, much of what I coach about is embedded in the text and those that know me and what I talk about will see it woven throughout the story. So, it is not as far off as it may at first appear. In fact, I tend to not want to label the story based on genres, because to me, it is a story and limiting it to a specific genre means that people will automatically disregard it based on the label, because that is what we do. But, in a sense, it is still a self-help book. It just may take some work on the part of the reader to notice it.
Besides, the book itself is a testament to the coaching process, too. It is something that I started years ago and it is something that I finally saw through. Is it finished? No, not at all. But it is a goal that has been met. And it has led to a set of more goals to work on.
Of all the struggles we have in life, it is most important that we strive for the things that we want.