From 2016 until last spring, I worked just about every day on a story that I wanted to be published, printed, and used in the local schools. I had plans for this story. It was going places.
It was a fictionalized history of Portland in 1903, and to make the history correct and interesting, I researched everything from the conditions of children working in fish packing plants to the layout of elementary schools. I created some characters I really liked, and a few that were loathsome.
And then, last February, I just stopped. It was like a brain fever broke and I didn’t need to do that anymore. Now that I’ve had some time to think about it, there were a few factors involved.
- My favorite character idolized President Teddy Roosevelt. The more I learned about Teddy’s racism and imperialist views, the less I wanted this character to admire him. Since that was central to his motivation, it sort of fell apart.
- I realized that for a really dramatic story, terrible things have to happen to my characters. I don’t like to even think of terrible things happening to children, much less write about them.
- I realized that it was the research, the hunting of details, that I loved the most. The writing of the story was secondary.
Also, since I have lived here in Portland, I have met a few people who have published their stories. The books are well-written, well- researched, and entertaining. But the folks say that their experience with the publishing industry was miserable, frustrating, and made them pretty much zero income. So why go there?
Ego? That would be just sad. Wealth? I’m comfortable, thanks. Fame and fortune? Nope.
But I still have this research, these interesting bits of history and trivia of life back then. How to share them without publishers? Well, maybe you’re looking at it.
Online publishing is a popular venue, costs next to nothing, and demands fewer compromises. And it seems to be just about as profitable as print publishing (that is, not at all.) So maybe I will go back to my notebooks, find the best bits from my research, and put them in this blog.
Watch this space!