As more people are reading Getting Lucky and providing feedback there is one common theme. Most of the reviews are something along the lines of ‘loved the story, wish it was longer!’ I feel that perhaps I have some explaining to do regarding why the story ends when it does. The reason that Getting Lucky is only 20k words is because of the 3 P’s.
The first P is for Procrastination. Like so many writers I am a exceptionally good at finding reasons to really drag out finishing a story. Some nights I won’t even get started with writing, instead stumbling across an interesting article on Wikipedia which somehow results in me spending four hours reading about squirrels. Even when I do start writing I am easily distracted, always popping away to write a short story here or a blog post there. There is no better example of this than my first novel, Project Christmas, which I have been writing for years. I just can’t quite seem to finish it, although I am getting agonizingly close. Anyway as I think I have mentioned before Getting Lucky started as something of a side project, a short story meant to get my creative juices flowing again. Somehow though it became much easier to write than my novel, and I just kept adding to it, developing the back story, adding in new characters and generally just having fun with it. Unfortunately it wasn’t the story I was supposed to be writing! I started to panic that I was well on my way to having two unfinished novels instead of one, which was only going to make finishing either of them that much harder. Coincidentally around this time I reached a natural break point in Getting Lucky and made the decision to end the story whilst I still could.
The second P stands for Perfectionist. Combined with the first P this is the kiss of death for me hitting any deadline. Note that I do not consider this to be a positive trait, nor am I implying what I release is perfect (far from it!) What I mean is that I obsess over the tiniest details and keep tweaking and tweaking until I am happy, often spending far longer than necessary for barely noticeable improvements. The best example I have of this is a video I made for work where words appeared on the screen timed to a voice-over. I had a solid version up and running in four hours, which looked just fine. Unfortunately I couldn’t settle for ‘just fine’ because all I could see were the millisecond delays between the voice-over and the words. I went through frame by frame until it was synced down to the vowel, listening to the voice-over hundreds of times in five second increments, which added an additional twenty-six hours of work (most of which was spent rendering, over and over again.) Sure I was happy with the end result, but I can’t truly say that all that extra time made enough of a difference to the final product to be worth it. Anyway, these same OCD tendencies tend to infect my writing and it’s not uncommon for me to spend an entire afternoon writing and re-writing the same chapter, and then more often than not preferring the original version and pressing undo an awful lot. Thankfully it’s a trait that Getting Lucky helped me to shake, because once I’d finished my first draft I set an actual date to release it and stuck to it, even though I know I could have spent several more months obsessively tweaking it. It’s another reason I couldn’t afford for it to be a full length novel, because the more I write the more I am tempted to re-write!
The final P has actually shifted a bit from my original intention. It stands for Pilot. Initially my justification for continuing to work on Getting Lucky was to use it as a test run, to understand the process for submitting e-books, to test marketing strategies and to gauge what kind of interest it received. This part was a success, I learned a lot from it (which I am going to cover in future blog posts) but interestingly enough one of the key things I learned was that it was a useful pilot not just for me but also for my potential readers. A lesson I learned the hard way was that books from completely unknown authors doesn’t exactly fly off the digital shelves, and that word of mouth is most effective when you have a large pool of people talking. Whilst I priced Getting Lucky aggressively at 0.99c it still had too high of a barrier to entry. After a month I made the decision to change direction, making it a free e-book which people can use to test the waters, to see if they enjoy my writing style. This is a mutually beneficial arrangement as I get more people reading my work and a lot more valuable feedback, plus I get to see if the world I have created is something that people enjoy and would like to hear more of. With the time investment of a few months instead of a few years I can now gauge if it’s worth spending more of my very limited writing time continuing the story.
So there you have it, my excuses/reasons for why Getting Lucky is the length that it is. If you enjoy the book please let me know so I can be sure to focus my energy on stories that people are interested in. If you don’t enjoy it please let me know too, I’m still relatively new to writing and so all feedback is extremely valuable.