When They Leave Home

This week I have been asking myself one big question, ‘Why do I write?’

I thought I knew the answer, ‘to be published’, but this week I found out that may not be the case.

You see this week, as you may have heard, I published my first solo novel, New Earth: Beginnings, through KDP. This is the book that consumed my waking hours to such an extent that I eventually left work to give it the attention it demanded. At the time I left work I was sure this book was the be all and end all of everything. I wrote furiously for days on end, desperate to get the story out of my head and onto the paper. The closer to the end of the book I got the further engrossed in the world I was writing I became until, in the final days, I felt like I was looking back at real life through an open window. In a way completing that first draft, back in September 2012, felt a little like being set free. Oh I know I have still been heavily involved in the editing so I have read and re-read the manuscript any number of times but the story never held that same power over me.

I’m not sure how I thought publishing the book would feel, and don’t get me wrong, I am delighted it is out there, prouder than anything that it is selling in modest numbers and looking forward, eagerly, to receiving my first review, but somehow it just doesn’t feel so important as I thought it would. The only thing I can compare it to is the feeling of watching a child leave home. The achievement I feel is in completing the work, by publishing it I feel I have set it free to go to make its own way in the world. I, in the meantime, am far too busy with the kids left at home to watch its every move.

Now my head is full of my current work in progress, whose first draft is close to completion, and plans for the next story in line. I am brim full of ideas for short stories and long stories, novels, series and even, thanks to my local writing group, Writebulb, poems. I know I will never have time to write them all down but I am really enjoying trying.

So, after a little soul-searching this week, I can now say, with complete conviction, the answer to the question, ‘why do I write?’ is ‘because I can’t not.’, if you see what I mean.

Now if one of my children could just make a million and come back to take care of their Momma I wouldn’t turn them away, but I honestly love them all just the same for the joy they give me in their growing.

http://www.hellenriebold.com

Today’s The Day.

I have been waiting for today my whole life, it seems.

Today is the day I publish my first solo novel. It is called New Earth: Beginnings and it has had quite a long journey.

I have always written, ever since I can remember and, before I wrote, I used to tell stories to anyone who would listen. My poor sister, who is five years younger than me, had a lot to endure in her younger years.

The idea for the story in my novel first came to me a little over ten years ago when a good friend suddenly vanished. I started writing about the feelings of despair and helplessness I was drowning in as a way of coping. I wrote many disconnected scenes, none of which made it into the final draft of the book, but all of which sparked a little part of the eventual story.

Thankfully my friend returned home, eventually, and the story went onto my back burner as I returned to normal life. I wrote other, happier things, short stories, poems but my mind  kept coming back to the questions my friend’s disappearance had raised. What if someone you loved vanished and no-one cared? What social situation could make that happen? What did it mean about the value we put on an individual life? The story, which had been fermenting (or should that be festering) away in my mind suddenly felt like it was ready to burst out and I started writing. Obsessively. My house, which is never up to Martha Stewart standards, suddenly fell below even Shrek’s, my cooking became microwave, my husband neglected and I even started to resent the time I had to stop writing and go to work, even though I loved my job. I was getting very stressed and making myself sick. Something had to give, and it wasn’t going to be the writing. Here is where I have to tell you I married very well. I have a wonderful, one-in-a-million husband who listened as I tried to explain my madness to him and who was so supportive of my dream that he agreed to me giving up work to concentrate on my writing, even though we both knew it would mean living off baked beans and being grateful for a walk on the beach as a night out, probably forever.

So in January 2012 I left a job I loved doing working with a wonderful group of people, in an area that was very worthwhile. It was scary and exciting all at once but my colleagues, who had been very supportive and encouraging as I shared with them the first few chapters, seemed very proud of me for pursuing my dreams.

By March 2012 I had completed my first draft and then came the editing process, which, if I’m honest, I hated, but it was very worthwhile and I know it made the book 400% better than it would have been without it, for a start I’m dyslexic and can’t spell for toffee and that’s not attractive in a completed book.

Next I had to decide whether to self-publish or send off my precious manuscript to agents. In the end I decided to go down the self-publishing route because I think ‘the times they are a changin’, to quote Dylan. I thought about it pragmatically; new books sell, on average, about 500 copies. Publishers can no longer afford to pay either large advances or marketing budgets for untried authors and they expect the authors to do a lot of their own marketing. If I got a deal with a publisher I would receive a fraction of the royalties I could through self-publishing. In the end I decided that, if I would need to do all the marketing myself anyway, and my chances of selling many copies were small, I would go for the self-publishing route and retain full control of my work. So that’s what I’ve done.

If you want to see how the final story turned out follow the link below, the first three chapters are free to download so check it out and I hope you enjoy it.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/New-Earth-Beginnings-ebook/dp/B00D6G7AEO/ref=sr_1_4?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1370520207&sr=1-4&keywords=Hellen+riebold

 

Having finished writing my first book I discovered writing is a little addiction. I have already finished a collaborative effort, The Saved Saint, with a friend, which was published last October and I have almost finished my second solo novel’s first draft. I am so glad I followed my dream and so grateful to those who encouraged me.