Back in 2015 I set out to write and publish my own #indie novel - Vinyl Tiger.
Pretty much anyone who has gone down that route will tell you the same thing about their first time self publishing. That it was exciting, nerve racking and a huge learning curve full of mistakes, I mean, milestones.
It was no different for me. I made mistake after mistake "learning on the job" but I was also quite humbled by the huge support I received for my little indie project. But even after receiving complementary reviews and reasonably good interest, something wasn't sitting right with me.
I of course just continued to write, watching as we, as a collective, grappled with huge cultural and social reckonings.
At its heart, Vinyl Tiger is principally a story about popular culture - and the lack of LGBTQ icons in the eighties and nineties. Since then of course, we've made great strides; LGBTQ artists are breaking down barriers, movements like #metoo have provoked fundamental shifts and "identity" has never been part of the conversation as much as it is today. Knowing all of this, a seed planted itself in my mind, wondering whether my little indie novel needed to somehow reflect this.
Six years on, with another novel in the can, I made another realisation; that my writing style has changed. As with any skill, the more you do something, the more you bring to it.
Writing is no exception.
When I originally wrote my novel, I knew I did all the things an #indie writer is supposed to; tap into the wisdom of BETA readers, hire a great editor, and be prepared to do revision after revision.
But now, with thousands of extra hours of practice, and thousands of hours of even more reading, I knew I was capable of doing better.
I suppose I could've let things lie and just moved onto another project, but the freedom of self publishing and my belief in the original story led me to revisit it with fresh eyes.
Ruthless editing, rewrites and new bouts of research to revisit some of the references in the book took up weeks and months of my time, forcing me to look at my work critically. The upside was that doing so also gave me the opportunity to fall in love with the story again (and to indulge in some eighties and nineties nostalgia; the perfect tonic for COVID and all its restrictions).
So, here I am again, almost six years later, with a story that I can stand behind, and the knowledge that it's now in the best shape that I'm capable of putting it in. What happens from here, I'm not sure. But that's the other great thing about self publishing. The parametres of a successful project boil down to the author. In my case, I want to know that I've written a great story that people will enjoy and that I can take some comfort in knowing that I gave it my all. Anything else is a bonus.
Dave Di Vito
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Dave Di Vito is a writer, teacher and former curator.He's also the author of the Vinyl Tiger series and Replace The Sky.
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