WRITING — HOBBY, PROFESSION or THERAPY?

An author’s account of his hard way up, from SciFi fan and fan magazine editor, to Design Engineering Business Executive, Software Consultant, and finally retirement as a prolific writer of near future speculative novels and short stories.

In the last decade, things have changed dramatically in the writing and publishing business, and will never be the same again. Anybody, perhaps almost everybody nowadays with any kind of computer seems to be having a go at it! Nowadays then, to some agents and acquisition editors, it must seem that there are far more writers around today than there are readers. Why do they do it? The irresistible lure of possibly doing another Harry Potter?

Perhaps things have become an amateur’s dream of a preferable alternative to a normal occupation? Maybe they’re making it an exercise in self-fulfilment too, a way to express and analyze their feelings about the world. Where they fear it’s going, and the urge to communicate about it to anyone who’ll listen, or rather read. Could be!

Perhaps it’s a therapeutic exercise?

Well, there are easier ways to relieve one’s feelings of frustration when it comes to requiring therapy. You could try beating up your partner… but that can be very expensive, especially in America. In some countries I believe you can buy little clay idols, horribly hideous to behold. With just a little imagination a suitable one of them can be identified with the galling irritation of the moment. Rage and indignation does the rest. Trials and tribulations presumably scatter in the breeze with the dust of the thing as it crumbles in your fist, or shatters under your heel.
Well, I’ve no doubt it works for some people, but if you lead a very frustrating life, it might soon get to be expensive. However, there are more economic ways to relieve one’s feelings when the need for therapy arises. Years ago, to become your own psychiatrist, the minimum you needed was pencil and paper.

Nowadays, a personal laptop, or tablet… or even a smart phone is more convenient, and most of us have one nowadays…or something similar. Everywhere can become a couch and it’s more socially acceptable than talking to yourself… or taking it out on your partner, which, as I already mentioned, can be very expensive.

So, put it all down then…scribble or tap away, unbutton your creative belt and let everything hang out. Develop your expressive urges and have your characters tell your conscience how you feel. Above all be honest with yourself, even if it hurts. It often does, and I should know…this is the voice of experience.

The nearer I got to the top of the heap, in my business profession the more I longed to release my over-pressurized feelings, throw away my collection of emotion-screening masks, insult all the customers, turn my order book in for an axe and hack away at the plastic feet of all the false idols I seemed to be worshiping. I felt disillusion and contempt for the commercial rat-race, and the way it submerged my appreciation of the simpler things in life. I resented the never-ending battle, that constantly seemed necessary, to just stay level, let alone to expand further, and I was filled with remorse at the neglect of my home-life and family. All the time you see my conscience was wearing me down. It refused to believe my contrived excuses and justification for what I was doing. I eventually knew I needed some kind of therapy, so I started writing again.

I should mention that back in the fifties I wrote and sold a few SciFi tales, as an avid Science Fiction fan and participated in several conventions. My rapidly expanding business life however, soon put a stop to those fascinating activities. Eventually in the late seventies I decided it was time to retire from my professional executive life, and went to work for myself as a software consultant. The problem with that was the way it soon took up all of my time again, so in my early eighties I gave it all up and finally retired.

Since then I have only indulged in writing, editing and promoting my speculative fiction output. Now of course, I am ruefully finding the latter, the essential marketing requirement, seems to take up more and more of my time than the writing does. But to continue…

The smaller magazines and genre websites began to take my work, and still do, and I’ve also won a few competitions, and received a couple of awards. Altogether I’ve published over ten collections of speculative stories from macabre tales to science fiction and even some humor. I’ve also had stories published in about nine anthologies in America. My first novel, Points of View, was published in 2012 by Eternal Press in California. In 2015 they were taken over by Caliburn Press in Madison. Wisconsin. The first sequel will be published by them around December 2016. They want the second one too, which I have just completed. They have also acquired my latest collection of quirky macabre stories SPECULATIVE TALES..!

In 2014, with my own self-publishing imprint, Etcetera Press, I self-published my largest book, 358 pages of THE BEST OF THE TENERIFE TALL TALES, selected from my earlier award winning trilogy, which has that most generous introduction by the late legendary, American SciFi author Harry Harrison. We met up in 2007 at a convention in Copenhagen, and he later visited me for a most illuminating week in Tenerife, Spain where my wife and I were on vacation.

He liked my stories, and gave me a glowing introduction to use with one collection, but said I really had to write a novel if I seriously wanted to get anywhere. So that I did, as already described earlier, and now things are progressing well. My very latest effort has been to self-publish an analysis of the coming Artificial Intelligence revolution, in a book entitled, THE SINGULARITY IS COMING. It has become my best selling title. Most people I talk to have never heard of the phenomenon, and yet many scientists and other experts believe it will arrive in less than a decade and change all out lives completely. If you don’t yet know about it you should… and you know how to find out about it, don’t you?

Last October it was acquired by the IT Books Division of the Chinese Information Ministry Publisher, PTPress in Bejing. for publication in simplified Chinese eBook, hardback, and paperback versions, scheduled for release in June 2016… and it was! So how did that wonderful breakthrough come about? Their Publishing Manager simply found me while searching through the Internet and took it from there. In his own words, “I wanted a follow up to Ray Kurzweil’s book and your book is concise and easy to understand.”
So my own simple secret of success can be revealed as get yourself featured on the Internet, everywhere and as often as you can.

Make sure your name and your essential website URL appear whenever a potential reader enters anything relevant in the search entry box on any browser. Inexpensive experts waiting for you on that remarkable website www.fiverr.com can provide all the facilities and the opportunities you need to achieve that objective. (Yes, it does have two letter “r”s at the end). When you have done all you can, check your website regularly, add anything new, and keep it updated and ongoing, but above all… be patient!

To sum up now, my therapy has brought me close to understanding that if you don’t have the time to be a perfectionist, there can be contentment in accepting adequacy, defined perhaps as the acceptable limit of one’s abilities. I also suspect that the trick is to never give up until you get as far as you truly believe you can, or maybe stop just before that.