I’m still surprised by how much literary writing I accomplished in my spare time during all those years I was employed elsewhere. Much of it, admittedly, was in a shotgun fashion, or as I’ve also said, along the lines of graffiti, while hoping for the big break that would give me the space for a more concentrated approach.
Still, it led to a rich stream of material. In that regard, Jack Kerouac was a huge inspiration.
Releasing Hippie Drum as an ebook at Smashwords.com in 2013 was an indispensable defining moment for me. I was no longer bashing my hopes against a brick wall of commercial publishing, which was ever more resistant to experimental fiction. Six more novels followed at Smashwords, plus the fiction available at my own Thistle Finch online imprint.
As I’ve already noted on this blog, my novel What’s Left led me to rethink and rework almost all of those earlier novels. For one thing, as I now see, it was drafted and revised entirely after my retirement from the newsroom.
I’m deeply grateful to an insight from Smashwords founder Mark Coker that one of the advantages of ebook publishing over printed paper is that revised editions are much easier to accomplish, and more economical, too. That – and my own ability now to create my own covers, rather than hire a designer – encouraged me to drastically recast those earlier volumes.
There’ no way to express the elation I feel in now having most of those novels stand in two distinct, orderly cycles – Freakin’ Free Spirits and Living Dharma – each with a continuity of events and central cast of characters.
There’s the relief, too, of having finally been faithful to this material and its inspiration. I can now move on. It belongs to the world, the way a parent feels about grown-up children.
I’m confident this is it, no more new novel-length fiction. In these eight current volumes, I feel I’ve said everything I have to say in this vein. The one exception might be a tightened Big Inca, which for now doesn’t press on me the way the others have.
Elated? How about having a weight removed from one’s shoulders? Even when so much of their contents is downright comedy.
Make that giddy.
Now, let’s see what I have on my plate for today. I won’t even check that to-do list.
In the meantime, you can check the books out at Smashwords and other fine ebook retailers.
Don’t you dare forget:
You better be good to toads!