Please forgive me. The last post on this weblog must have felt very misleading because it was only true for a limited time and falsely promised that my novel would be free in its entirety on this website. I should have posted an update when that changed.
To make it up to you, I will be making the Kindle edition of my book completely free on Halloween and the next four days afterward.
My agreement with Amazon prevents me from publishing more than the first few chapters for free while I'm engaged in the KDP Select program, which runs through the end of the year.
I would like to add that I have started work on a new project, a zombie apocalypse psychological thriller set in Portland, and I can't wait to share it! According to my outline, I'm about halfway done with my first draft. If you like my writing and want to read more of it, please tell me. Send me an email or write a comment so I know you're interested, and I'll be encouraged to more things more frequently.
Good news, everyone! The Total Manageability of Everything is now available, in its entirety, for you to read, completely free! You'll find chapters one through eighteen in the menu bar of this site, and I hope you will take the opportunity to read it before I turn my efforts toward more conventional publishing.
Back in April, I declared my interest in making my work available to the public for a limited time because my sole goal with publishing was to give as many people who might enjoy my writing the opportunity to read it.
If you are such an individual, then I would love to hear from you! What did you think of the story, the characters, the pace? Did it make you happy, or were you utterly depressed by the end of it? Is there anything you would change about the novel, if you could?
Leave a comment below and I will consider your feedback and respond to you personally. Or, if you're not a fan of public forums, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In any case, thank you for reading! I will make sure every chapter remains available until September 9th, 2016.
Trying get my book to people has been an education of its own. I started with a self-publishing service from Lulu while I was publishing the first chapters here on my website and now my book is available for purchase on Amazon, where everyone already expects it to be. (Well, that's not entirely true. Everyone who asks me for a copy wants to know if they can buy it at Powell's Books here in Portland, but I don't know how to approach them.) My initial goal was only for the people who might benefit from my book to be able to read it, and (as of today,) there's over five thousand of you who have. Thank you for your interest and support.
I decided to publish The Total Manageability of Everything on Kindle as well, but I hit a roadblock. As you know, I work exclusively on an iPad, writing in a robust but minimalist writing app called Ulysses. It allowed me to take my novel from concept to execution, even generating the final print-ready PDF that I submitted to Amazon CreateSpace. Exporting .MOBI, however, is not a feature. After a lot of tinkering, I'm pleased to announce that I have found a way to get my book from Ulysses to the Kindle store.
I owe a great debt of gratitude to The Real Cal for everything you've read thus far on this weblog and in The Total Manageability of Everything, not just because his own proclivity for writing was singularly inspiring, but because he has kept me in good supply of helpful books on the craft of writing itself. I've written here about Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg and On Writing by Stephen King, but both of those books are subjugated on my bookshelf by a neat little piece by James Wood called How Fiction Works.
Though I wasn't working on The Total Manageability of Everything, I still had the compulsion to write. Goldberg talks about that cresting point, where writing goes beyond something you must make yourself do and becomes simply something you must do. I had resolved not to read, write, or think about my current book, but that didn't prevent me from starting work on another one.
I misremembered Stephen King's advice to take six weeks off after writing my draft and instead took six months. King suggested that it was important to put some distance between myself and the words so I wouldn't be too sentimental when it came time to take off my Writer's hat and put on my Editor's battle gear. Honesty and a decided lack of mercy are two critical elements of the editing process, and it's impossible to be sentimental about your work and kill your darlings at the same time.
When I was finished typing it all up in Ulysses, I wanted to read through my book like I read every other book: by turning pages. I desperately needed a print copy that I could dog-ear and underline and cross out, but I haven't owned a printer since 2009. Besides, (I surmised,) there were probably dozens of ways for me to print off a one-off of my book with real pages and a real cover.
This is where it begins. After months or years of scribbling in disposable notebooks, I digitize my paper pages and transcribe them onto the screen, and the editing begins. I edit as I type, because reading my words for the first time lets me react to awkward sentences and poor word choices. The first purge is the transition from ink to pixels, and I don't want to waste my time writing something twice if it isn't something I like.
I can type between seventy-five and eighty-five words per minute on a QWERTY keyboard. When I started work on The Total Manageability of Everything, I thought that typing the words would be the most efficient way to get the story out. At that rate, the entire novel should have only taken fifteen hours or so to write, but writing is not so simple.
I kept finding myself facing blank pages on a screen, despite my classroom speed at filling them, so I called up my best friend, the Real Cal, to share with him my frustrations. I asked him (he was teaching creative writing at the time) what he recommended for his students to overcome that paralyzing "writer's block" that I kept running into. I knew that if I could just get going, I could write like the wind and get everything down.
The Real Cal told me that my predicament was a common one. Most people, even successful writers, feel that exponential increase in inertia whenever they sit down to actually do the work, one word at a time. The blank page is intimidating, it puts a lot of pressure on whomever is in front of it to add something brilliant, breathtaking, and beautiful. Most buckle under the stress of trying to live up to every page full of words that drove them to want to write in the first place.
It starts with this: put your desk in the corner, and every time you sit down there to write, remind yourself why it isn't in the middle of the room. Life isn't a support-system for art. It's the other way around.
I don't like to talk about this author because I'm intimately familiar with a very small portion of his work and he is better known by the larger corpus of his work. When I was a kid, my Dad gave me a copy of The Gunslinger, which contains one of my all-time favorite opening lines in all of fiction:
The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed.