I knew I had to have strong characters, without strong characters the story I wanted to tell would fall flat. Drawing from my own experiences back, and I won’t say just how far back, when I was in high school I wanted to tackle a tough subject to write about - bullying. Being heavily bullied during my school years I had a foundation to draw on, to bring the emotions that my two main characters, Lexi and Nathan, were feeling and the psychological effect that bullying had on them. Not only did they have to deal with the torture they went through at school but also home problems. Nathan’s parents put work before their only child, while Lexi lost her mother and her dad struggled financially.
With a small spiral notepad next to me at all times I would jot down ideas as they filled my head. If I was out doing my daily business and an idea hit me like a brick, I would use my phone to type it out. When I first sat in front of my laptop, that notepad was filled in an unorganized mess of words. With the second book I cleaned up my process by using simple index cards to organize each chapter to get a good flow to the story.
I wrote, then wrote more, and wrote even more until I hit what I call the 20,000 word wall. This is a wall that I had never been able to climb over with any story I had started to write. That wall blocked my vision and clouded my mind with thoughts if the story was worth even continuing. I didn’t know what was on the other side; a calm, bright sunny day beckoning me to finish or a mixture of ridicule, negative thoughts and panning from reviewer’s swirling around in a tornado. I climbed each letter on that wall until I was able to see the other side of my doubts. There they were, Lexi and Nathan waving for me to join them, for they felt it important enough for their story to be completed. I ran, not jogged, towards them after I jumped off that wall and greeted them with a smile. Together we walked off onto the screen of my laptop and for the first time I climbed over that dreaded wall and pressed on.
After weeks of editing re-writes I had reached that point of hitting the publish button on Amazon. I can’t remember how long I sat there staring at the publish button deciding if this was the right thing to do. I don’t know if you could call it butterflies, or even a knot in the stomach, but there was self doubt. I had gone through the entire book so many times that it didn’t even makes sense to me anymore. My beta reader’s enjoyed it but was that enough? Oh, there were some bad thoughts; what if my precious baby that I have nurtured and cared for gets bashed with every review? Worse yet, it gets called the worst book on Amazon. It was at that point I shut off the computer and walked away. I pondered for a few days and came back to that publish button, but this time I did not hesitate and pressed publish. I still don’t know what came over me to do it.
I sent out reviewer copies to anybody who would read them and waited. Waited for negative to flood in, for that’s all I could think about. I knew that there is no such thing as a perfect book, or will there ever be. After a few days I received the first email from a blog that did a review. This is when the butterflies fluttered wildly in my stomach. There was sigh of relief as for the review was positive, highlighting that the characters were very relatable. With each review I received each one commented on the strengths of the characters, while the latter reviewers also added how they liked the flow. Well, I thought, I did something’s right. I know that not everyone will like my books, there will be flaws that people will point out, but that is the only way that I will become a better writer. That is the way anyone will become a better writer.
If I were to give advice to anyone who is considering writing a book I would say to them, “Don’t let anything stand in your way. Don’t let self-doubt get in your way. There will be bumps, and yes, even some detours on the way, but navigate through them and you will reach your destination of being a self-published author.”
Hermann’s first novel, Morium, was published on Amazon this past September 20, 2014. Hermann prefers to write supernatural, horror and science fiction stories, but is working on some stories that fall outside of these genres. You can find S. J. Hermann on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Blogger.
Thank you, S. J. for sharing the process you went through to publish your first novel with us. Bullying is a tough issue. It’s important for authors to address society’s issues from time to time, raising awareness about them through our work, so I applaud you for taking this on and trying to make a positive difference for those who are bullied.
On another note, the Effectively Human Community is hosting the 2nd Annual Holiday Food Drive on December 4 - 6 this year. Please mark your calendars and save the dates. You can read all the details, as well as my own back story about starting this with Tina Downey last year, on the Effectively Human Blog. I hope you’ll join us and I hope you join our community too.
Thanks so much for visiting, commenting and sharing this post today. It’s always important to give first time authors encouragement and support for their work, so I’m sure your attention to this post is making S. J. smile.
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