Small Steps

Many people in my generation have likely heard of Holes, either the book by Louis Sachar, or the film adaptation. What few people are aware of is that it had a somewhat strange spinoff-sequel. This book was called Small Steps. Now, this post is a blog update, not a book review, but I want to share an idea that I encountered in that book. An idea that returns to me every now and then, even though I haven’t returned to that book since I read it…twelve or so years ago in middle school.

The book follows one of the supporting cast from Holes. In Holes, the protagonist is found guilty of a crime he didn’t commit and sent to a sort of disciplinary boot camp for young people, since he’s too young for jail and the alleged crime was only theft. The punishment is that they have to dig giant holes all summer. (He does eventually get free, and the book has an interesting story and path to the ending.) One of the people Stanley meets there, Theodore, is nicknamed “Armpit.” He sort of did commit a crime, of drug dealing. The catch is that the “drug” was actually not a drug, but some other, legal, white powder.

More importantly, the story takes place after Theodore has returned from “serving time” digging holes. He wants to straighten his life out and follow a clean path. Throughout the book, a lot happens, but unlike Holes, it’s all rather grounded and realistic. Theodore meets people, cares for his disabled neighbor, and gets a straight clean job in landscaping. But than an old friend tries to get him back onto the wrong side of things; scalping tickets. Well, I’m going to step out of the plot summary now. You can pick up the book if you wish. It’s really more of a drama than an adventure / comedy like Holes.

I want to talk about the idea of small steps. When Theodore gets home from the correctional boot camp, he makes something of a plan to keep himself out of trouble. To keep himself on the straight road. He would have to take small steps forward. Here is the list, taken from a review since I gave the book away long ago. We’ll just hope it’s the one from the book.

  1. Graduate from high school.
  2. Get a job.
  3. Save his money.
  4. Avoid situations that might turn violent.
  5. Lose the nickname Armpit.

Small, reasonable, and steady.

Last time I wrote an update was almost a couple of months ago. I talked about how over the summer (around 3.5 months ago) I had found out my work might be in trouble if I wanted to traditionally publish them, because I had posted two entire novels for free on this site. But I reflected, maybe it wouldn’t be such a big deal for some publishers, especially since very few people actually read them. I concluded that I would still try to traditionally publish Alice and Finch, but self publish The Solune Prince. (Links to the old landing pages for both of those at the end of this blog. The first couple chapters should still be available as previews for anyone curious about them.)

This post is a continuation of that whole writing / publishing adventure, and an explanation of how I am planning to take small steps forward into the next part of my writer journey.

I have come to learn quite a lot about the independent author world since realizing that I will in some large part become a part of it. It has helped me shape my path forward.

It is possible to become a full time author writing and publishing independently. It just takes a lot of books, and especially some books in series. Fortunately, the story for The Solune Prince is promising to be very long. Possibly five or six books. Excellent! Further, there are many other ideas floating around in my head for semi-related books. It turns out that series is a little looser than I had assumed. Since my books take place almost entirely in the same universe, and even often interlaced with recurring characters, I can accurately claim them all under one broad interrelated universe.

The difficult part, the daunting part, is actually doing the work. This is where the small steps come in. My steps aren’t one time things like graduating or getting a job. They are more like Theodore’s third step of saving money; something I will aim to do on a consistent basis.

And that’s the writing habit.

So far, I’ve done a few days, and even begun to position my evenings to enable the habit. Things like listening to an audiobook or podcast related to writing on my drive home, to get me in the mood. Thinking about how to block off time; when will I write every day? I was actually stressed about this one for quite a long time. I work a full 8.5 hours, and my commute is a little less 45 minutes. so 45×2 = 1.5h, add 8.5h and 8h for sleep and you get 18 hours during which I cannot write! That means I really only have four hours during the weekdays. And I still need to shower and eat.

Well, I found my time, I think. I can get home, eat and do other things for an hour, and then spend the next hour in front of my computer, or at a notebook with a fountain pen, writing.

Small steps.

Yesterday and the day before, it was closer to 20 minutes. But I’m okay starting small. Today, for example, I’ve been writing this blog for nearly an hour now. I haven’t gotten much fiction done, but this is still writing, it’s still moving the habit forward, and it’s still an important part of documenting my journey as it were, and reflecting and affirming my goals. And my steps.

I hope you enjoyed this one, if you did and you have a WordPress account, feel free to like the post or even comment. Maybe share it with a writer or anyone else who might find it useful. That’s up to you. As for me, I will lay out a little more of this plan some time soon in another blog. I have a another novel I might chip away at as I get through The Solune Prince. …But I’ll leave the elaboration of that for another time.

A memory from that book still rings in my head. I don’t know if it’s even a direct quote since it’s been so long, but I think of it sometimes. “…We have to take small steps in life.”

Daniel Triumph


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