For some years, I thought about writing a novel, which makes me the one in my little group of one in four Americans. I'd read another book and thought once again that I could do as well, but I could never get past the fact that here was several hundred pages printed by a publishing company and sold to me by Amazon, and I was in my extra bedroom staring at a blank screen with the number one in the footer. A good writing day was deciding on center or right justify for the page number. (I'm still open to suggestions on this.) I never really started my novel, but I certainly stopped many, many times.
In the midst of a long period of not writing, a strange confluence of events brought me to the point where I've made a good start and am working fairly regularly. The first is that I spent most of several pleasant summer days on my back porch plotting the entire book in a notebook using my favorite Lamy pen. I'd never gotten all of the pieces out of my head at one time and suddenly I could see that there was a book somewhere in all that mess. I've completed six chapters (about 150 pages), and my original notes are unrecognizable in the written story, but they provided a structure to get me started, to give me something to put on all those empty pages.
The second and third pieces were the result of the strange thinking that happens in my brain for which I cannot claim responsibility. I can only see the result and wonder how it happened. In this instance, I was browsing through the Apps Store, wondering what new strange, silly, and obsessively mundane little gems people had put together. I came across iBook, which I wrongly assumed was an app to help organize and structure novel writing. I downloaded it. I could have read the info about it, but then I would be a different person.
I quickly discovered that iBook gave you access to publishing your book in the iTunes Bookstore. I played with it for a while, but, not having a completed novel, didn't publish anything. Then some synapses twisted in a new series of connections, there was a whiff of burnt cinnamon, and my brain spit out, "'The Moonstone' and all Dickens' novels were serialized. He and Wilkie would have loved iBooks. Write it, publish in the bookstore, write some more, publish a new version, repeat until completed." (It turned out that the burnt cinnamon was from a left over pecan roll I was heating up and forgot about, and had nothing to do with my brain. I was relieved by the discovery.)
So I stopped writing the silly adventure story I'd been playing with, and started "Families." I've now posted the first five chapters in the iBookstore and the sixth is nearly ready. About a dozen people have downloaded either "The Memoirs of Finn O'Brien" and/or "Families." They are, of course, family and friends, live and online, but knowing that someone has bothered to get them is motivation to continue. I'm not complaining, really I'm not, but it would be nice I heard from any of them about the book. I have chosen to assume that they have been overwhelmed by its brilliance and rendered speechless, as opposed to being appalled and embarrassed for me.
So that's it. Victorian weeklies or monthlies combined with iBooks and iTunes set me on way. My novel is expanding as I write. The characters don't always do what I want or they object to what their told. There is still a plan to guide these people to a conclusion, but that ending has already changed radically, so I wouldn't bet on what I have in my notes being the last word. Now I've procrastinated enough and need to get back to correcting chapter six. The phone call between Edward and Helen needs work.