The Friendly Skies
A Story About Life And Death Up In The Air
I came up with the idea for ‘Skies’ when I was on a flight home to see my family in 2005. Just as we were taking off the idea of sitting next to a ghost popped into my head. I instantly asked the flight attendant for her pen and began scribbling down some serious character detailing on the back of my printed off flight itinerary. I was jotting down everything I could see about these two people sitting next to each other. Names, hair colour, favourite food, everything. All the little details were the things I couldn’t lose. After 75 minutes in the air I landed with two completely real characters in my head.
Over the next two months I slowly chipped away at my story of Jake Green catching a flight home to his family. I used nights after work, and any weekend I wasn’t too hungover, to write what I could. Soon I noticed that the story was ending, which came to me suddenly because I was not certain where that would happen. Then began the editing process.
I had to get away from the story for a little while to gain some distance so that I would have some perspective on the story so I could rate it, and change it if necessary. The first thing to change was the title. It had originally been penned as “Frequent Flier” but as the story changed during writing I could see that the title was no longer as apt. “The Friendly Skies” came to me and I was in love. 13 grand of words needed to be churned. I found that re-reading it was easy. I was actually surprised by how much I enjoyed reading it; is there a term for literary narcissism? Little touches like chapter titles and some minor story alterations led me to the finish. I had my story.
Initially, I was only going to self-publish a small print run to send out as gifts for my family and close friends. As I went about getting quotes for publication I became overcome with delusions of being able to self-publish this for ‘major’ sales. I decided to ask the local independent book seller if he would allow me to stock my creation in his store. When he agreed I started to think that this might actually work…maybe.
I created a front cover, a blurb, a promotional poster, everything. The printers rocked out a great little copy, though for future reference 12 point font becomes pretty small when printed to A5 size.
I sold roughly 80% of my stock in the store and made a bit of money back, not that it was ever about the money. Ever. It was so scary to put something out there with my name on it. Something that other people could hold, could read, could re-read and could have any sort of reaction they liked behind closed doors. I found most of the experience positive, everyone seemed to like it, or at least liked talking to me about it. There was one glaring fuck up in the publication, but funnily enough only one person noticed it, or at least that was the feedback I got, and I know I completely missed it.
It’s weird to think that there are still copies of this getting about. There’s one in Japan, one in America and god knows where the others have gotten to. Something with my name exists on it and people can go back to it
whenever if ever they want. That’s cool to me.
I have about three copies left, and I have the one that I signed for myself. Something to remind me why I do this, and that I am actually on my way. Even if slowly.