Starting to publish

I haven’t been blogging very long. I tried it before, several years ago, but I didn’t stick with it. I think that was partly because I didn’t really have an audience, and partly because I didn’t have much to say.

Things are different now; I have Twitter (yay!) and I have a job in digital learning. That’s really changed the landscape for me. Most of my posts so far are about technology and education. The one will be a little bit, although it’s broader than that. I’m thinking about publishing.

I could have written this privately

It started that way. This was a draft post (as I type this out, it is a draft post), and then I published it for anyone to see. If I didn’t publish it, that’s because I didn’t think it was worth sharing: either I didn’t think others should bother reading it, or I didn’t think it would spark interesting dialogue (here, Twitter, Facebook).

But if you’re reading this, it’s because I wanted to expand the conversation. Maybe in the context of education, maybe in the context of life… somehow. I’ve learned that the conversations go where they should, not necessarily where I think they should.

What I think publishing is

Creating for consumption. Putting something out there. Sharing your words/voice/art. Maybe with the world, maybe with friends… it’s all publishing. The sharing matters, even if it’s just with one other person. Committing to a product of your mind, and taking a chance by letting someone else see it. That’s how I see publishing in all its forms. Whatever the purpose of the work, it needs to be shared.

Creative jealousy, or something

I’m listening to more music lately, as opposed to my usual complement of podcasts. Actually, I’m several weeks behind in my podcast listening, even Security Now! (embarrassingly). When I listen to music I start to think about writing a recording a song. When I listen to podcasts I think about how I might like to start podcasting. When I view artwork I start to gravitate to painting again. I want to create something.

So it didn’t surprise me this summer when I started to write out some ideas for a fantasy world that I could write a book about. I like to read, and I usually consume fantasy novels, so it was bound to happen eventually. I developed a quick system of magic, thought up a couple of compelling situations, and figured I was good to go. Of course, I didn’t actually start writing any prose. I’ve heard/read interviews with authors who say things like, “I’ve always written journals, or stories, etc., and now it’s my career.” I’ve never been like that. I think a lot, and I talk a lot, but I’ve never written a lot.

Then I saw a tweet from Colleen Rose, who goes by @ColleenKR on Twitter:


We had a short back-and-forth about publishing in which I told her that my daughter wants to publish a chapter book, and that I’d been thinking about it too. She suggested I get started, so I set a goal of December 15th for a first, rough draft.

Wow, this is actually pretty tough

Any authors who stumble across this post are gritting their teeth right now. Of course it’s tough to write something. Really tough.

I found that I started second-guessing everything I wrote. Is this name okay? Should I capitalize the words about magic to make them seem “different” somehow? Do I need a map? Should I draw the map first, or see where it goes? Oops, I didn’t think about history, and I didn’t flesh out the political situation very clearly….

Of course fantasy worlds have to be internally consistent. The magic needs to have be a kind of economy, where there is a cost to using/creating/accessing it. Can everyone do magic? What sets some people apart? Is it physical, spiritual,…? Are there materials needed? And the level of available technology needs to be considered. What kinds of materials are available? What are the methods of transportation? Will there be fantastic creatures?

Sigh. I didn’t think of all of that.

In retrospect, I imagine that successful fantasy authors have way more material written about their worlds before the book begins than actually make it into the book. Oh well. My 400 words of planning seem pretty paltry now.

Worse, after I started to write my barely-considered book, I realized that I was making decisions in the text but not summarizing them anywhere. So later I had to refer back to earlier paragraphs to make sure I wrote consistently.

But it’s okay, because…

…I’m not planning to monetize anything. I’m planning to enjoy writing something, and sharing with my family. I’d like to print a physical book, probably a paperback, just for kicks (funny, because I can hardly stand to read physical books now that ebooks are so readily available). I’ll paint the cover art, likely in the old-school, tacky, fantasy style (just because I like it). And I’ll probably share it online, maybe here, if anyone wants to read it. There’s nothing for me to lose on this, since there aren’t any dollars in this venture, but maybe someone unexpected will enjoy it (or more likely, learn through my mistakes). I even thought about posting things as I go, but I figure I’ll change too much along the way right now, and I might find it frustrating.

Maybe audio too

I’m really interested in audio. I’ve considered going back and reading each of my blog posts aloud and attaching MP3 files to the posts. I thought it might help as an accommodation, or for people who want to listen to me in the car, or just to help people connect with me more easily. It also seems like fun. Let me know if that would help you out, and I’ll do it.

So I’ll probably read the book too and post it here. Maybe after I get some feedback. :)


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