When Charles Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol, it was all about the money.
Allow me to explain…
Back in the mid-1800s, Dickens found himself with a deficit in cash and a surplus of mouths to feed with the holidays fast approaching. He was working on Martin Chuzzlewit at the time – a lengthy novel – and did a little math. It would be months before he would be able to finish it, meaning it would be months before he saw any money. With necessity being the mother of invention, he went to his publisher and worked out a deal to serialize a shorter book that he could get paid for right away. Enter Scrooge, Marley, and the rest of the crew. Ch-ching. Merry Christmas, Mr. Dickens.
Cervantes succumbed to the lure of a solid payday, as well. Tired of writing novels with minuscule readerships, he cranked out the equivalent of Bridget Jones’ Diary – a book that would appeal to the lowest common denominator and score him some much needed cash flow. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Don Quixote of La Mancha. Intended to be a throwaway, the joke was on Cervantes as it turned out to be his most enduring work. Raise your hand if you can recall anything else he wrote. Yeah, that’s what I thought.
Serializing a novel or writing for a particular market is a time-honored tradition. According to this historical document, even Shakespeare cashed in.
You might be saying to yourself, “That’s nice, but what does any of this have to do with anything?” Good question.
I’ve been hard at work on a novel called Wild America. Like Dickens, though, time is of the essence – the day job went belly up – so I’m circumventing the traditional publishing model. I’m going to write and serialize a new novel and blog the whole process. The book is called Speck Martin and it will be written and distributed over the course of a year, with new installments arriving once per month in your inbox via pdf file. This blog will serve as a window into the whole experience and alert you to announcements and opportunities to contribute. A lot could happen over the course of a year and anything is possible. Peace of mind coupled with the satisfaction of spinning a tale well told? Sure, why not. A total nervous and emotional breakdown due to crippling writer’s block and an extreme lack of social contact? Now we’re talking. That’s why I’m so excited about this project. Everything is on the table. None of us can imagine where this might go. I have a book cover, one character, and a basic concept, but that’s about all. We’re all taking this leap and starting this thrilling adventure together. It’s a well-worn literary path, from Charles Dickens to Tom Wolfe (Bonfire of the Vanities) to Stephen King (The Green Mile), and I’m eager to take you along for the journey. I’m also counting on you to get involved and keep me functional by leaving comments here or sending me emails. There will be days my heart will threaten to explode out of my chest from elation as the words flow unabated. There will also be days I’ll be ready to douse myself in lamp oil and wander outside for a smoke. Throughout all of the ups and downs, I promise to give you my very best work. All meat, no filler.
The first installment arrives mid-June.
We’re in for an intense ride. Thanks for joining me. Strap in.