I must be clear with readers of this article that I’m not a serious university student of literature, nor a lecturer. I don’t even class myself as an author. I say I’m a raconteur who can write logically. But during my study for a first degree, I took a unit called English 10, which I passed. So I enrolled in English 20 for the following year. The focus was on Shakespeare and it took me three weeks to decide it wasn’t for me. My study continued and I achieved a Ph.D but in an area far removed from literature. So my formal literature background is limited. In reading this, therefore, please view me as someone who’s gone from writing formal research reports to creating fictional novels via a process of orally transmitted and collected stories. This foray into explaining some intricacies of self-publishing is about why I did it, how, what happened and to share the information with anyone who’s interested. I’m not setting out to be an expert on writing fiction. I’m just telling my story in language as simple I can muster.

What I’m about to say is a self-evident truth and a no-brainer but I’ll still say it: to write a novel and publish it, you must have something to write about. So the key theme is, “what’s the concept, or to be simpler, the idea you want to present?”

In this website I’ve presented how each of my published novels evolved from scattered phrases and thoughts to a coll03_05-_16-turn-on-a-light-a4-poster-cropped-page-001ective whole: what I ‘ve called the GENESIS of the three published novels. You can look them up on the following links:

Hiding Place: http://aussieyarns.com/the-genesis-hiding-place/

The WILUNA Solution: http://aussieyarns.com/the-genesis-the-wiluna-solution/

Turn on a Light: http://aussieyarns.com/the-genesis/

I have also written about my latest novel, which I am still working on, and how that evolved. It’s tentatively entitled Life Sentence and two entries can be found at: http://aussieyarns.com/life-sentence/

I think reading these will help explain what I mean about a having or developing a concept. But my summary of what how I developed each original idea into a concept, and not in a sense of order of importance, is:

  • using experiences I’ve had in working between Aboriginal communities and non-Aboriginal organisations: in what Selena in Hiding Place calls a ‘between world’
  • hearing and observing the history of places I’ve been, such as the Pilbara, Wiluna and Rottnest, and the thoughts and ideas that are generated from reminiscing on those sites
  • reading historical documents and hearing the oral histories of Aboriginal people about the different history of different sites
  • recalling my personal background: as a teacher, my sporting connections and experiences, and attitudes of different people and  impressions that grew from those attitudes

The last point, particularly the attitudes of people and impressions that grew, is central in the way I develop characters. Almost all my characters have something about him or her that can be traced to an individual I know or have known: a characteristic, an attitude, mannerisms, life events or all four of these and sometimes more. I add that despite those words, no character in my novels is real. Whatever characteristic, attitude, mannerismor life event I start with, the character’s traits and what happens to him or her are embellished and alter from reality. As one of my mentors advised early in my attempts to write fiction: “Make sure your protagonist and the journey he or she is on is believable and it keeps the reader turning pages. So make them as real as you can, no matter how unreal the situation”.

As to the future, I’m looking at creating something that draws on ideas evolving from my non-Aboriginal world. There’s a novel to be written about the process of facilitation, which I’ve been doing now for two decades. But the genesis of the idea grew from something my teacher, Tony Simpson, said when I first started to learn about the process.

“Dave, never forget that manipulation is the dark side of facilitation, and there’s no line drawn anywhere to help you know which one you’re engaged in. The challenge will always be for you to know what you’re doing,”

In conclusion, and as I’m intimating, my way of developing a concept doesn’t involve much, or often, any writing to being with. It’s simply thinking while I walk and ideas seem to evolve and revolve. It’s only when an idea continues to ‘re-revolve’ that I’m moved to write a few dot points about it. And, eventually, the ideas I’ve dot-pointed start to link and merge and a sort of a whole is developed. Other people I know sit with pads and write from the outset, while others have butchers’ paper and develop their idea pictorially (for example, in linked boxes drawn on paper). But there’s no right or wrong. It’s what works for you that counts and a way to find out is to try each of the methods mentioned, or others that you’ve heard about or you feel might work for you.

None of what I’ve written is necessarily a part or all of a pathway that has to be followed. But I hope each may give you some assistance in step one of self-publishing.