This week I’d like to write about the process of how my first short story collection “Vienna in Short Stories” came about. Overall, it took approximately one year between the first day dream and when I clicked ‘publish’ on KDP.
I believe the best way to describe it is in the way of “soft writing” and “hard writing” I heard on the ‘Writer Files’ podcast. Being a parent to a then only months old baby I had little time to type away on my computer, and it turned out to be a blessing. When you have a baby your hands are never free, but your mind is quite free when it runs on auto pilot. I dreamed about the kind of stories I would write, as I wrote in my previous blog post last week, while going for walks with my son, or while we were at home. I started out with a list of ten different types of stories. And then I began imagining them one by one. Sometimes I would note down a title or phrase, but I usually only sat down to actually type a story when I had a rough, but fully formed, story in my head already. Then would come the time for “hard writing” while he was napping during the day or sleeping at night. This part would take about one to two week until I was happy enough with it to show it to my most important reader – Mr. Lit & Pie.
This initial concept quickly settled into a process, where I gave myself a month to start and finish each story. It was a very interesting alternation between daydreaming at home / on the commute and then hard writing for two more weeks mostly from home at night (because I still get the creeps when people look over my shoulder while I’m typing on a short story on the train).
Half a year later, Mr. Lit & Pie had quite a long backlog of stories to read and give feedback to. Only after I had revised them, I sent them to my editor Lara Ferrari. It was last minute, let me tell you!
I am so glad I had arranged for a deadline with her, because I was quite drained and had lost momentum at the very end. This self imposed time pressure let me scratch together my last energy and self-belief to finish the manuscript and send it to her on time in June this year. Somewhere during this year of writing I decided I would publish the book on my birthday in September. There was not much time left.
In July, while waiting for Lara’s editorial feedback, I wrote nothing. It was a month of marketing preparation, technicalities on KDP and coordination with my illustrator Melanie Chadwick. Lara’s editorial feedback was so helpful and gave me so many ideas that I worked on the revisions in every free minute I had in August but I managed the publication date in September!
Part 2 of my “How I wrote my first book” concludes with the following three takeaways:
- Try the concept of soft writing time and hard writing time. It helped me so much in my creativity and I firmly believe that it also helps in avoiding writer’s block. Wouldn’t that be reason enough to try it?
- Give yourself longer time frames for specific writerly goals. There were days, and sometimes weeks, when life just took over and I had absolutely no time for my writing but because I had set myself the time of a month for a short story, however, I felt less pressured and could even squeeze in night shifts of Netflix.
- Invest in a professional editor to give you feedback on your writing. Lara’s work was so valuable to me that I am convinced it has made me a better writer.