Sometimes, you just give in to peer pressure. I have always had the writing bug. However, I never pursued this endeavor until many family and friends said it is time to write a book. But, never really explored this “art” until October of 2008. That is when I started writing my novel, “Diary: Alone on Earth.” Now, many people have asked me over the months, “David, why did you write this as a blog?” My answer is…I simply don’t know. It seemed like a good idea at the time. But, once I started, I felt obliged to continue in this particular format. Plus, I wanted to see what kind of feedback I would get by writing this novel online.
To put it bluntly, I was stunned by the reaction to my blog-novel. I had some people who commented (at the end of each entry there is a comment section in the blog) they were simply “dying” in anticipation of my next entry. At first, I thought they were being sarcastic. I just didn’t assume the story would have that kind of draw or impact. But, it did and the followers soon begin to follow faithfully each week. At first, there were only about five people who followed my weekly entries. Soon, that number increased exponentially. I felt inspired by the comments, the people who felt the story was something that they looked forward to each week. In fact, I received comments and email that they looked at my blog-novel as some sort of “cyberspace TV weekly mini-series.” I was flattered beyond my ability to comprehend. I decided that my thoughtless inclination to write in blog format was a lucky “shot in the dark.” Maybe some publisher or agent will think likewise someday!
However, despite all this glowing commentary on my blog-novel, it is not without its critics. The one agent who read my manuscript felt the story was unique and interesting. However, she felt the story would not transcend itself into book format simply because it is written in the form of a diary. She suggested that I rewrite the story into the traditional chapters and with dialogue. But, I suspect she missed the entire of idea of this story. “Alone on earth” is just that; alone. I explore the overwhelming loneliness the central character faces throughout the book. It is written in diary form so the reader can really experience his thoughts, his fears and his anger. As I told her, this isn’t the first book written in diary format. “Robinson Crusoe” did fairly well in this manner, as I recall. I simply will not change the format from the diary form. I just feel changing this story to the traditional chapter form would ruin it. The message would not be as powerful in my opinion. I also had people saying I had committed “blasphemy” in email when my story developed religious overtones midway though the story. I expected that, but not nearly the vociferous reaction I got from some people. It comes with the territory, I suspect.
Writing in the blog format has been enlightening. I would not have had the impetus to continue if I had not decided to create a blog to write my novel. Like many people, I need to be cajoled, prodded and complimented to continue (some outright threats from friends doesn’t hurt either). In short, the blog format worked for me.
Would I do it again in my next novel? Maybe. That depends on how well things go for Diary insofar as getting published. But, I will say I enjoyed this experience. I had interaction with readers that you couldn’t get just plugging away at your computer in Word. I enjoyed writing the story. I enjoyed reading comments from readers. Hopefully, my hard work will be rewarded in the way of a publishing contract. I am under no illusions that I will become the next Stephen King at age 58 or become rich. But, someday, on some dusty bookshelf somewhere a copy of Diary is picked up by a man or woman with personal problems, some kid looking for entertainment other than computer games, or some elderly person facing the heartache of loneliness, and my book takes them away for a few minutes each day…then I’ve done my job.
James Weldy: Born and raised in Mobile, AL, I’ve always had a penchant for the art of writing. Finally succumbed to years of pressure and wrote my first novel at age 57. I am the author of “Diary: Alone on Earth (aloneonearth.blogspot.com),” a yet to be published novel first written in blog format.