Jim Vines: Novelist?

I used to be a screenwriter. Well, actually, I haven’t stopped being a screenwriter; I’ve merely put the brakes on it. See, for twenty or so years I lived a screenwriter’s life. I wrote spec after spec, I queried, I went to meetings, I sold some scripts, I optioned a bunch more, and I garnered many writing assignments. I even had a couple of movies produced (one was released; the other sits on the shelf awaiting a release that may or may not ever come). It’s been a fun ride, and I’ve made a few bucks, but a couple years ago I looked at myself in the mirror and asked:  “Good heavens, man, WHAT are you doing?!”

I was thinking of all the spec scripts I had written over the years. I’ve lost track, but maybe there are 30 or 40 of them.  All those stories! All those characters! All that work!  A vast majority of those scripts now sit in a storage bin, all but forgotten. Now, don’t get me wrong, if you want to be a writer, the work itself has to be enjoyable—and it has been VERY enjoyable—and I realize that some of those unsold scripts led me to other paying assignments, but after a while you start realize how cool it would’ve been to actually share those now-buried stories with the rest of the world.

Think about it. If you write a screenplay, it goes to your agent and/or manager, and to some producers and development execs (if you’re lucky, that is), maybe a few actors and their agents, and maybe a few of your friends read it, but it usually doesn’t go much further than that. It’s not like you’re gonna publish it somewhere…because nobody other than a screenwriter wants to read a motion picture screenplay. The sad truth of the matter is: If a script doesn’t get produced, if it doesn’t get made into a movie, that great story of yours is relegated to the dark void known as obscurity.  Ah, but this is not necessarily so with a novel, especially nowadays with the self-publishing boom.  A writer can pen their tome and, with a few clicks of a mouse, send that book out into the world. Now, the entire world probably won’t read your book, but if you play your cards right, you can find several hundred to tens of thousands of eager readers who will. Having several thousand people reading my story? That sounds mighty good to me!

So a couple years ago I sat down with a yellow legal pad and a pen and began writing my first novel. From the first page the words just flowed and flowed. I really enjoyed the lack of restraint, the relative lack of “rules” I had to follow compared to writing a screenplay (and we all know screenplays have plenty of rules). I can honestly say that I enjoyed writing this first novel more than any script I ever wrote—and this is from a guy who really does enjoy writing screenplays!

It is now February 2015 and the novel is completed, all 80,000 words of it. I’ve considered going the traditional route, with an agent and a traditional publisher, but frankly, I’m tired of dealing with agents and I’m definitely tired of the waiting game (which is something you get a lot of when you’re a screenwriter).  So I’ve made the decision to be the captain of my own ship, to oversee the complete design, distribution, and promotion of my book. This is why I will be self-publishing. The beautiful thing about writing a novel and self-publishing is you don’t have to spend your life waiting for other people to say “yes.” The only people who have to say “yes” are the readers. With a bit of luck, I’ll sell some copies; and even if I sell only a couple hundred copies, that’s significantly better than the dozen or so people who may have read any one of my unsold, un-optioned screenplays. And if my readers like what they’ve read, I’ll write other books and share other stories…because, really, that’s what it’s all about.

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APRIL 2015 ANNOUNCEMENT: My debut novel, Luigi's Chinese Delicatessen, is now available in paperback from Amazon.com and Kindle e-book! (You're gonna love it cuz it's all about Hollywood and screenwriting!)

Come visit me on Facebook at Jim Vines Presents!

1 comment:

Mike Keyton said...

Good luck. I'm about to go down the same route, for much the same reasons.