Since five days ago last year wasn’t New Year’s Eve, the question is, what happened to mark it as somehow special? Allow me to elaborate…
Six days ago last year I finished my translation of Ratpaths. I still remember that I basically did the entire translation on a whim, because I was bored, tired of waiting for the German publishing houses to stoop to speak to me.
I never thought I could actually get away with it. Or get something out of it. Or just get somewhere.
Either way, I was pretty convinced I hadn’t done such a bad job, and so I took the Peter Pan approach – I innocently searched the web for English speaking publishers. Surprise! Hardly any of them accept unsolicited manuscripts. More surprise! Hardly any of them accept submissions by authors.
Yes, I’ll freely admit that was the point where I thought it might be bigger than me.
That I might have aspirations above my station, or something like that.
And then I stumbled upon authonomy.
No, I’m not going to advertise authonomy here. But I’m going to advertise the people I’ve found there (actually, I already have. Most of them are here). Because, you see, six days ago last year I had a wild dream. And five days ago last year, I uploaded my rough manuscript to authonomy, for the people there to rip it apart. I sincerely thought they’d do that. I wouldn’t have minded much – at least it would have told me where I stood.
And guess what, they didn’t. Well, okay, that’s not precisely true. They did. But in a good way, a constructive way, an eye-to-eye way. And I learned. Lots. How to begin. How to continue. How to shuffle and rearrange for better effect. To stop using the same words a million times just because I liked them so much. To think about realism, and how to apply it to every little thing a character says or does. And so on and so forth.
It was a revelation. Prior to that experience, I sucked at stomaching criticism, so I had to learn that, too. And learn it I did, and also to give as good as I got. This past year, I beta-read more books than I can count (because I’d run out of fingers if I tried). I finished the one I’d thought already finished. I published it. I wrote another. I published that, too. I wrote yet another, which I’ll publish in three weeks. My sales figures are humble, but so what. I’m still marveling at the fact that there are people who actually paid money to buy something I wrote. And not my friends, either, but strangers, somewhere around the world, the UK, the US, Canada.
Yes, it feels pretty good. Like the biggest adventure I’ve ever been on. But you know what’s the best thing about it all? The people. Complete strangers invested huge amounts of time and energy in my dream, and I in theirs. One did a cover for me, for free, simply because he liked my book (and yes, I know, I don’t use it anymore, but that’s not the point).