In Which We Get Caught Up on the Past 15 Years

One day in 1998, I wrote a short story at work.

At the time, I was employed at a badly overstaffed company, and found myself with way too much time on my hands. Out of sheer boredom, I began to write. The story wasn’t much, it seemed to me, but I felt like sharing it. What to do? A while back, I had stumbled across the adult Usenet newsgroups on AOL (yes, I used AOL like everyone else back then), and thought I might post it there. I wasn’t anticipating much of anything, I just felt like seeing if anyone might like it.

That first story, Sunset on Roses, ignited something I didn’t anticipate. An audience is like crack to a writer, and I had found one without really meaning to. The first few stories I posted became so popular that I soon found myself being hounded by readers for more of them. Over the next three years, I wrote and posted about ten novels and upwards of 50 short stories, all of them tossed out for free to the Usenet. Within the admittedly limited milieu of alt.sex.stories, I was a god.

I would eventually found an erotic story site, Ruthie’s Club, with several other writers. But as Ruthie’s Club took off, I began to realize that I was getting burned out on all of this. One day, I thought to add up the word counts of every single thing I’d written, and the total came to a shocking 1.5 million words.

I had had enough.

I bailed from Ruthie’s Club, had Google—which had just started Google Groups—purge my entire oeuvre from their archives, and deleted my MichaelD38 AOL account. I would be lying if I said I never looked back, but I was at peace with the decision.

But I never lost the desire to keep writing. After my batteries recharged over the next few years, I often ran through potential stories and novels in my head but never wrote anything. Part of the problem was family: My wife and I now had three young kids, and I simply didn’t have time for the uninterrupted blocks of writing I needed. I had also changed jobs. My new responsibilities were much more demanding and got more so as I advanced.

In the intervening years, Amazon rolled out the Kindle Direct Publishing platform. A few years ago, I began bouncing around the idea of republishing some of my stuff as ebooks. But Michael Dalton seemed like a phase of my life I’d left behind for good, and I never did anything with it beyond wondering.

The change came a few weeks ago. My kids were now older and more self-sufficient, and I’d begun a new job working from home. I’d had a book idea floating around in my head for a while, and one night after a discussion with some friends about my writing career (though not the salacious details), I sat down and started writing.

Two weeks later (yes, two weeks), I had a novel. This was fast even for me, and it told me things were still there. So I finally set about reviving my old material.

What’s going to happen here? Well, not all of my old stuff is fit to see the light of day again, for various reasons. I’ve selected and revised some of my favorite pieces (some of it needed a lot of updating). I’ve commissioned covers and started converting the cleaned-up files to epub format. I hope to have things ready to go in October, but as I want to roll out the entire group at once, it will be a few more weeks before it’s all ready.

I’m excited about getting back into writing, and I hope (if you’ve gotten this far), you’re intrigued enough to want to check out my new book when it’s available. I’ll have a post about that one soon, but I think it’s the best thing I’ve written so far.

See you soon.

4 comments

  1. As a young teen I had just gotten the Internet for my computer and learned about Usenet. Wasn’t long before I found michaeld38@aol.com:s postings. Still remember the thrill or reading Orange County Babylon and I was actually sad after finally finishing it. Like something got torn away. Thanks for spicing up my youth a great notch Michael!


    /fan.of.stories

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  2. Glad to see you’re back!

    Thinking through the longer works I remember… CGC, Amber, OCB, Summer Camp… all unpublishable? Tragic.

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    1. Yeah, unfortunately, things have changed, and if you want to publish on Amazon, there are certain lines they don’t let you cross. CGC, at least, is still out there, and I’m letting it be because of that. The other stuff you can find if you try hard enough. I’m pondering a sanitized version of at least one of those, though I haven’t decided yet whether it’s worth the effort.

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