Today my novel ‘Customerpocalypse’ officially releases as an e-book. It’s an exciting feeling but I’m also nervous about putting this novel out into the big wide world. I’m nervous because I know it won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, it’s barely mine, and yet I’ve sunk so much time into it so I’m terrified of people hating it. But I need to get this out, it’s the first novel I completed (way back in November 2015).
At age 22 I was working customer service in a casual position, but I was practically working full time. I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life working there and I had always intended on being a writer, I just hadn’t managed to finish anything. So in November 2015 I took part in NaNoWriMo, I spent the months beforehand outlining the story arc and building the town of Mavin in my mind. I knew getting the novel finished in that one month was my only hope of actually finishing a manuscript, I needed to be disciplined. Every day after work I would write, didn’t matter if I was tired or my brain felt like mush I pushed myself to write. And lo-and-behold at the end of November I had the first draft of a novel, ‘Customerpocalypse’.
You’re not going to always love what you write
When choosing a title for this blog I decided based simply on the fact it was no simple task writing ‘Customerpocalypse’ or editing it, and also to remind myself it’s okay to not like your own work. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle didn’t particularly like Sherlock Holmes, he killed him off only to bring him back because of fans, and yet Sherlock Holmes is his most famous work. So it’s okay that ‘Customerpocalypse’ isn’t one hundred percent perfect nor do I have an inextricable love for the characters because at the end of the day my own opinion isn’t really what counts.
I tried jiggling things around and putting in extra scenes, not every suggestion my Beta readers made ended up being acted on (because frankly, it seems the novel is done with me). But I did take all the comments to heart.
I do know that whilst my debut novel doesn’t start as strong as I’d like it does end relatively strong (and endings are always where I struggle). Besides I feel that the start builds on the characters, it gives a shade of understanding to some later comments, and where one Beta said to cut down on the customer service details another said they’d love to have more of those details — it’s impossible to please everyone.
So I’m done working on ‘Customerpocalypse’ and I’m not wasting time trying to find it a publisher. I don’t want it to find publication after I’m long dead — I want it out in the world now (which is why it’s coming out simply as an e-book with no plans on a paperback).
The first won’t be the last
This is by no means going to be my defining work, the pièce de résistance of my writing career, I still have plenty of ideas to turn into full-fledged manuscripts and ‘It’s All Magic To Me’, my second novel, is searching for a publisher. Writing is a part of my life, and while ‘Customerpocalypse’ is a part of my journey it isn’t the final destination.
Working on ‘Customerpocalypse’ has taught me a number of valuable lessons and helped build my writing skills, but I still have room for improvement. Plus the story isn’t my usual genre either, it’s speculative fiction but also a comedy — the bleak observations of Millicent are no longer my own.
About the actual book
‘Customerpocalypse’ is an apocalypse story but also not an apocalypse story. There are three stages to the story: pre-apocalypse, apocalypse, and post-apocalypse. But the world doesn’t change too much after all people are still people.
It has some questionable points, strange career paths and very little to do with science. Comedy is at its core, even when it’s bleak it’s fun or at least that’s how it was writing it. The point of the story at times seems to be that there is no point, but by the end, you’ll see there is one.
At the time when I wrote ‘Customerpocalypse’ I was working in customer service, so it’s fitting that I wrote what I knew. Some small parts that I hope will get a laugh are based on my own experiences and real-life occurrences but for the most part it is obviously pure fiction. As a quick tip if you’re not enjoying the beginning then skip to chapter 4 (you’ll miss a fair bit of character background but I promise the story picks up around here).
It’s not going to be a story everyone enjoys but for those who have worked in customer service hopefully it’ll feel familiar and for those that haven’t maybe it’ll give you some insight into what customer service workers go through.
That’s all for now,