It began in my mind with an image...

posted Aug 31, 2010, 1:52 PM by Noah Mullette-Gillman   [ updated Sep 7, 2010, 7:06 AM ]

Some artists start first with characters. Some start with plot. I have written stories that started either way, but the ones that excite me are the ones that begin in my mind with an image.

Sometimes these half-understood blurry visions will haunt the back of my mind for years and I won’t know what to do with them. I won’t understand what I’m looking at until I’ve lived with them for a long time.

This was how The White Hairs came to me. I’d had an idea that wasn’t quite right in my mind for a long time. It involved magicians traveling outer-space, not on spaceships, but by leaving their bodies.

Now, that’s good, but it’s not quite there. I turned it over and over in my head trying to wring out the final piece until I finally saw the picture in my mind of a great being covered with white hair leaving that body and going out to explore the universe.

I imagined what it would be like for a creature in that culture, learning for the first time how to leave his flesh and wandering the sky. That quickly became Farshoul, my protagonist, and the story wrote itself in a little over a month after that.

The deeper issues in the story bubbled up from my own psyche where they had been lying for a long time, waiting for a place they could escape to. Yes, The White Hairs is fantasy, but if you read it right, it should not be light reading. It begins at the beginning of a spiritual quest, and it follows that quest through the decades of Farshoul’s life until it is resolved. You can tag along with him and experience that journey for yourselves if you allow the story to possess you at that level.

I wrote The White Hairs several years ago, and I’ve written quite a number of works since then. Some of which I have fallen out of love with in the intervening years. This story has grown in my own estimation. This story seems more beautiful and important and simply perfect to me every time that I read it. I don’t say that out of ego, because I did write it such a long time ago that it’s almost like I’m not the author anymore. Am I really the same guy I was back then? It’s hard to believe. At this point I’m simply a big fan of the work that  I happen to get to bring it to the world.

Among the works I created since then was a 250,000 word novel. Let’s call it: X. I spent two years of my life living and breathing that novel and giving it most of my waking thought, all of my dreams, and hopes. Finally completing it was the biggest accomplishment of my life.

However, I misunderstood book length. I thought that it was a 500 page novel. When I wrote in Word I used single-spacing. In fact, I’d created a maybe 1,000 word novel! All the same, I did speak with some agencies, and they were very kind and complimentary about the work. I sent some pages, and was asked to send more! At the end, I was told by two agencies that they wanted to see my next work…

Keep in mind, I’d spent two years dreaming about finishing X. I could barely imagine doing it all again without accomplishing anything, without the quality of my life improving… It was devastating, and for a year or more I had a very hard time writing. Oh, I had a lot of great plot ideas, but nothing came out with any grace. I have several unfinished novels from this period.

I then learned about self-publishing. I couldn’t bear to submit X to that, knowing that the odds were that it would hardly sell any copies. Did I have another story I could use to experiment with self publishing? The White Hairs is a funny length. At 120 pages it’s shorter than most novels, but pretty long for a short story or even novella. I hadn’t submitted it anywhere for publication. I had no plans for the work; so I thought maybe it would be a good fit!

On June 1st 2010 I published The White Hairs in paperback through I announced it on Facebook and MySpace and sold a good initial number of copies to friends, family, and people who barely remembered me from high school. Then…sales seemed to slow.

I had a plan to buy a number of copies and try to get them into independent bookstores on a consignment basis, but discovered that I couldn’t secure the funding that I needed, so I had to find a new plan.

This is when I learned about digital publishing. I made the book available on Amazon and Smashwords to be downloaded. This allowed me to charge a very low price and still make a fair profit on each copy. Only the future will tell how well it will sell! The reviews so far have been very strong, and maybe for an independent author without any real publicity that’s the best I can hope for at this early stage!

I am here to stay. Whether the audience discovers me or not, I’ll still be writing fifty years from now because the grace and elegance has returned. I can write again. Just wait until you read what I have coming this fall!

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