I’d been planning on taking on the Dream for a while. I think it was about three years ago that I decided to do something more about it. I already had a few novels that I’d done for NaNoWriMo; beginning with what might be charitably termed “inexpert” and going on to one which I thought might have potential. It had been written in 2008 and I’d been slowly rewriting it ever since; but that year, 2013, I actually sat down and finished the rewrite.
I had a plan: I would write a lot of short stories, and submit them to the Ellery Queen or Alfred Hitchcock mystery magazines. Eventually, something was bound to be accepted, and I’d build myself up from there. I took part in NaNoWriMo that year to make myself pump out six short stories centred on the hero of the one rewritten novel.
It was there, at a NaNoWriMo write-in, that I met JF Dubeau, among others. The place was a Second Cup on Milton, near McGill University; they had wifi, power outlets, and coffee, and outside was the brisk November chill that I find so invigorating. I remember that JF was the only one there before me, and I remember everyone else trickling in afterwards, the tables joining up as the day progressed and all of us tapping away at our recording implements of choice. I did manage to churn out those six short stories, even if the anxious pace of NaNoWriMo meant they were all hastily done and in desperate need of rewriting.
Over the next year, 2014, I aimed to write one short story every month. In fact, I averaged one every two months before running out of steam. In the meantime, JF was investigating publishing options. A group of us got together a couple of times to critique each other’s work, and JF relayed to us his research on the publishing industry: what they wanted, and what you had to do to get anywhere. I forget if he actually spoke about Inkshares then–I think he did–but I was still pursuing my original plan of “short stories first, traditional publisher after”. Not that I’d actually submitted anything yet: nothing was quite perfect enough for submission, and I was still very comfortable where I was working.
In early 2015, JF took part in the Inkshares Sword & Laser contest, with “The Life Engineered”. I received an e-mail explaining the whole setup, how Inkshares worked; I dutifully signed up, placed my pre-order, and walked away. I didn’t realise then that I would be coming back.