Looking back

A great deal has changed since the first time I put pen to paper.
The internet, social media, ebooks, just to name a few. When I first started writing, personal computers were a novelty, and priced beyond the average person's means. I wrote everything long hand on legal pads then painstakingly transferred what I'd written to 20lb paper using a manual typewriter. After that it was off to the printer to have several copies made. Returning home with my latest masterpiece I would painstakingly write a cover letter then weigh the return envelope, the story, and several blank sheets of paper for the editors rejection, or dare I even pray for it, acceptance letter. Once the proper postage had been affixed to the return envelope everything would be carefully packed away into another envelope for delivery to the intended market.
I never sold anything those first few years and soon life demanded I find a real job to support my growing family. It's not to say I didn't try, I did, and I racked up a pretty impressive pile of rejection letters during the course of my first foray into writing. I did learn one very important lesson. A lesson that is still valid even in this age of instant gratification via the internet.
Story matters.
Give a reader a compelling story with believable characters and they will follow you to the ends of the earth. Rip off the reader and they will never trust you again. And what's even worse is they will tell all their friends about your work. Even in this high speed electronic age word of mouth it still the most powerful advertising medium out there. If the writer doesn't honor the reader, the reader will not honor the writer.


  1. I started with pen and paper too, transferred using a manual typewriter. Then I bought an electric one. Then came a dedicated word processor or two. Finally bit the bullet and bought a Tandy 1000 computer in 1990 or 91. Two floppy discs - no hard drive - 128 kb or memory. They were all good tools of the time.

    But you are right - story is king. Without story, there is absolutely no reason to turn the page no matter what the medium (print or electronic).

    Give the reader what they are looking for - a good story.

  2. I remember the Tandy. My first word processor was an Amstrad that came with a dot matrix printer, but guess what I found out after buying it? No one would accept submissions printed on a dot matrix printer.

  3. We were all walking the same trail, back in the day, Kat and Richard. I can remember pounding the keys of a portable manual typewriter that sat on my drafting table. Oddly enough, it took me some 20 years later to get my first novel into print. Again, I went the same route as you did, Richard. I too found out when no one was accepting the dot matrix printed page, and so I bought my first HP Laser jet printer. A 4L, which I still use today. But it does not get used as much these days. I too use Smashwords as the medium by which to get my work to my readers. Ironically also, I don't own an e-reader!