The Beginning of Beyond
Well, I think it's about time I broke the silence on my blog, especially considering how infrequently I've been updating it. Exams and college concerns have had a part to play in my absence, although admittedly they're not the only reason as to why I've been so silent.
On Nov 1st, 2022, I began working on a written novel, longer than the children's stories/manuscripts I'd been working on in the past, both because I had wanted to challenge myself but also because there was an idea in my head that I wanted to get out onto paper. I had always thought that it'd be impossible for me to sit down and actually write out something longer than a short story, setting myself up for failure even though I hadn't really tried at it. It was only after I had written out a 5000 word length story for a writing challenge hosted by Christopher Paolini to write out a fantasy story that I realized I was capable of sticking to something for more than just five pages, and actually fleshing out a story. Admittedly I lost the competition without even a single person viewing the story I'd published (it was on a self published online stories website), but that actually only ended up fueling me further to try and make something. On the first day, all I was able to write out was the first page of the story, going back editing and rewriting the same paragraphs repeatedly as I wanted to make sure everything was as I'd pictured it. The book's name was 'The Wall of Starlight'.
I continued to work on the book here and there, trying to stick to a writing schedule but always getting sidetracked due to schoolwork and other commitments/activities. It was only until our school's Christmas Break of that year that I finally had the time to sit down and write out the majority of the story's content, attempting to write 5000 words per day, every day, until the book ended. Although I didn't always meet my goal and didn't get the full book done, I was still able to write 75,000+ words by the time the break had finished. At this point, the book's name had changed to 'A World of Wonder', before ultimately settling on something simpler yet nevertheless just as powerful. Beyond.
On February 2nd, 2023, I had the finished copy of the first draft in my hands, although it was nowhere near complete. I ended up spending the next 2 months slowly working through and editing my story, not being able to get very far until that year's Spring Break came, in which I was finally able to focus and edit the rest of it. Although I had initially thought all I'd need to do was skim through my work, I ended up rewriting several sections of the book and deleting around 13,000+ words from the book that were either excess detail or just nonsensical ramblings.
On the last day of my last Spring Break in high school, I finished the second draft of my book, rendering it finally readable to others. Coincidentally, I had finished the first draft of my first book 'What I Could've Been' on the last day of my Spring Break last year, so it was both a moment of celebration, but also reflection. I've come far since I made my first manuscript for my first story, and hopefully by the time I reach next year's Spring Break (my first Spring Break in college) I'll have achieved even greater heights than where I currently am.
Right now, all that I'm doing is waiting on a response from my Beta Readers, the people who I've given the second draft of the book to in order to get their feedback, and use it to improve the book. Whether it's finding typos or incorrect grammar that fell through the cracks while I was editing, or even entire sections that don't quite work out, it'll all prove invaluable to me once they're finished reading. Hopefully it will help me to improve upon the book, and finalize a third draft before I submit it to a literary agent. I've set the due date for my graduation which is at the end of this month, May 2023, so hopefully by then or before then I'll have enough feedback to finalize my book/manuscript before submitting it.
I haven't just been waiting and twiddling my thumbs while they all read the manuscript though. I've got a few irons in the fire which I'll go ahead and tell you all about now, so you have something to look forward to for the near future. Although... in fairness, only around 5-6 people actually read my blog so... I suppose by the time someone sees this (who isn't a part of that special few who already read my blog, I appreciate you all immensely) what I'm about to talk about will have already released, if you aren't reading this by the time that Beyond itself has released in the future. Or better yet; if you're from the far future, and are looking back at 'where it all started' before I had (traditionally) published my first book. If that's the case, hello from the past! Or rather, my present.
Alright, enough random speculation and nonsense. Let's get into what's been cooking, shall we?
First thing's first (and the most exciting of the lot) the Spanish translation for my book has been completed by Martin Da Fieno! I truly cannot express my thanks to both him and the Da Fieno family for translating the book, and I cannot wait to get it properly realized in physical form. All that's left is for it to be implemented into the proper format, and for the calligrapher (Gianna Castro) to write out an alternate Spanish title to be put onto the book's cover.
Speaking of Gianna, we move right along into our next topic; a proper symbol to represent Ud Din. Allow me to explain; During my first book signing an issue that I kept on running into is that my calligraphy skills don't match up with Gianna's, so every time that I would sign a book it would pale in comparison to the 'official' Ud Din signature. Although it isn't anything major, it got me thinking of ways I could potentially substitute my signature for something more official or add something onto it almost like an official seal of approval, and the idea of a proper symbol came into the mix. I'd already been using lanterns as my sort of unofficial calling card, and I figured it'd be nice t have something personalized to myself that I could properly use instead of just taking a random image off the internet. After some brainstorming with Gianna and working with her on what would look best, she conjured up a design which I absolutely adore, and will be using as the official seal of this website and of Ud Din going forward. Anytime I sign something or even send it off, I'll be sure to add this symbol alongside it, to show that it has my seal of approval, so to speak. Even blogposts from now on, will have this symbol.
Finally, we've got some work in progress when it comes to the art front. I think I've managed to secure an illustrator for my next children's book, "Tomorrow is Today", and I can't wait to see what she comes up with. So far, the art I've seen from her has been nothing short of stunning, and I'm truly grateful she's taken an interest in my work. Hopefully sometime soon I can get things in motion on that end, and finally be able to release my next children's book.
That's not all when it comes to illustration; after speaking with the head of the art department at my high school, I've ended up connecting with a wonderful student who'd like to create the cover for 'Beyond'. The reason why I'm having the cover be made ahead of time is because I have a very specific image on what I want the cover to be (to the point where it's even mentioned in the book itself, you'll see it if/when you read it!), and I know that when you submit a manuscript depending on the publisher you can lose some creative control when it comes to things like art and not the written word. So far she's already got the character sketches down and things seem to be moving well in that direction, so hopefully the finished front cover can be posted to the blog before the end of this month!
Last but not least, I've finished writing my first query letter as of this evening. Although it'll likely need some edits once I have others look at it, I think I did a good job summarizing my book, and I can confidently send this to an agent without regret. I mention this because it's one step closer towards becoming a traditionally published author, and one step closer to making this dream of mine a reality. It's almost unreal that I've come this far as I reflect on where I started... and it just leaves me wondering what comes next.
My summer vacation starts this month alongside my high school graduation, so expect more activity from me on this blog. Unless of course you're from the future, at least my future as of writing this, in which case an assortment of posts should be readily available for you to read, detailing how I achieved great fame and glory, yadda yadda, and some other narcissistic nonsense I'm too meek to type but secretly dream of. Until then however, I look forward to whatever the future may bring for my literary journey, and wish you well on your travels.
Good Day, Good Night, and Good Luck.
- Ud Din