Whatever Happened to David?

You may, or may not, be wondering (or may not even be reading this) – whatever happened to David, who’s blog this is and who used to be so active, but hasn’t posted anything in almost two years? Does he still write? Is he even still alive?

Well I’m still here. Sort of. Actually, not really so much.

The title of this blog “A Wee Adventure” and it’s original tagline “Notes from a literary expedition”, conveyed the spirit in which I was embarking on a perhaps, short-lived, fateful voyage into the world of writing and self-publishing. After many years of liking the idea of writing, but putting it off as a fanciful idea, decide to give the whole thing a proper go. I set about learning the craft of writing, putting pen to paper, getting feedback from the community, improving my skills, working out how to self-publish and getting my work out there for the world to discover and, hopefully, enjoy.

I like to think I achieved all of those things – certainly the expedition lasted significantly longer than I had pessimisticly expected it to. I made friends with fellow writers, attended local writing groups, wrote and published short stories, entered competitions, got feedback, learned and improved what I was doing. Finally I reached the giddy point where I began self-publishing on the Kindle store – I invested a lot of time ensuring everything was formatted and edited correctly, that I had good, strong cover art. I wanted to produce a quality product, not just something converted from a Word doc with some rubbishy thrown-together-in-Paint cover. You can see the fruits of this labour on the sidebar – Biter is still my favourite and a story that lingers with me still.

It was at this point that I realised things were going wrong. Nobody was buying my self-published books. Now initially this may sound petty, and I won’t that deny that it is a little. But I persisted – published some more and did my best to promote them. But no one was buying them, apart from a handful of friends. After some research, I realised that this wasn’t anything to do with the quality of my writing, or how good my cover art was, or what keywords I was using – it was because no one was finding my books, no one was seeing them. Amazon did a wonderful thing with opening the world of self-publishing up, in that anyone can do it. They also did a terrible thing, in that anyone can do it. There is no quality control as there was in the days when big money had to invested in print runs – there’s just a huge sea of noise. A lot of which is quite frankly, awful, terrible, half-baked, lazy rubbish. Don’t get me wrong – I’m sure there are plenty of hidden treasures out there, and tons of passable, average work (in which my efforts no doubt fall). I didn’t give up though, I start learning up how to promote yourself, building an audience and a platform – doing things guest-blogging, running competitions. And I did start down this route, but soon found myself exhausted. I was spending more time trying to promote my work, than I was writing and that I was the bit I enjoyed. All I wanted was people to read something I had written. The joy was disappearing from what I was doing. I started to lose interest.

Of course I could have continued just writing for my own pleasure, and sharing my work with fellow authors. But – I don’t know – that feels like that playing a beautiful violin solo to an empty room. All my life I’ve had a yearning to make things, to create experience that other people would enjoy, or find useful, and make them, if only a little bit, happy. In primary school I used to hand-draw comics and sell them in the playground. I played in a garage-band in high-school. I experimented with electronic music during university. Now I had tried writing, but just wasn’t getting that buzz of knowing people were experiencing what I had created for them. That was what I yearned for.

So I went back to the drawing-board, and started concentrating on web-development. This is also my day-job, so getting better at it made sense – I could improve my skills whilst doing the cool, funky stuff at home, and get paid for building fund tables for big investment companies during the day. I’ve been enjoying this greatly and have slowly been starting to reap the benefits – both at work where I’ve gotten to work with clients like the BBC and Expedia – and at home.

Here’s an example of a small web-app I put together: Spiral Art Generator. That didn’t take me that long to do, but when it launched, it got noticed and was getting several thousand visits an hour. Today, several month later, it still gets at least 500 visitors a day. Compare that with my eBooks where I’m lucky if I sell one every three months. Obviously there’s a lot of differences between the two – the web-app is free and can be experienced in seconds. But still, it took me probably just as much effort as writing a short-story, and far less promotional effort, to gain traction and now I know that there are people all over the world enjoying it and turning to their friends and going “hey, have you seen this?”. And ultimately, that’s all I’ve ever really wanted.

So, are my days of writing done? No. I still put pen to paper from time to time, but it is rare these days. And I don’t invest the time staying in touch with the community any more, which I do regret as I’ve made a lot of friends amongst my fellow writers – TS Bazelli, Cathryn Grant, Stephen Watkins and Helen Howell to name a few, key people. Thank you for everything guys.

If I had to pick a highlight from my short-lived writing “career” it would be Shortbread Stories selecting my short “The City That Never Spoke” to be professionally recorded by a voice actor. If you haven’t before, you can check it out here. Seriously please do, if I’m remembered for nothing else, let it be that one.

Oh – but what about that epic, steampunk novel/novels I’ve been working on for years? Yeah, that’s not dead yet. I’m still picking through it, slowly editing. Slowly editing. One day that will see the light of day, in one form or another, I promise.

Till we meet again – here’s wishing you the best in your own wee adventures, may they take you to all sorts of unexpected places…



Published in: on July 17, 2015 at 3:43 PM  Comments (3)  

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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. You gave it a shot which is something most people don’t dare do, and still admirable. Please keep in touch even if you aren’t writing!


  2. This is sad. I discovered your work as a writer just a few months ago and it was love at first sight. I was amazed by How I Managed to Kidnap Neil Gaiman, that story is so god! And then came to your blog here and read a lot of awesome short stories. So, keep up the good work wherever your efforts are. Thanks for the amazing stories.
    From a brazilian fan.

    • Thank you so much for sharing this – it’s wonderful to hear from people who have enjoyed what I have written. I’m particularly pleased that you liked How I Managed to Kidnap Neil Gaiman, that was a particularly personal story for me.

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