Why you WON’T really write a book, unless –

18 May

The actual writing of a book IS hard, but it isn’t all that time-consuming. Most of the time spent in writing a book – especially that first one – is all those hours, days and even years spent in thinking about it before actually putting your rump in a chair and getting down to work.

I know. I’m guilty of that very thing. I think I was – maybe 16? – when I first thought about writing a book. But the actuality is that I was very near my 51st birthday before the first book finally appeared. However, the year before that one, in honor of my upcoming 50th, I’d actually started something – and even finished it! Wow! What a surprise! In more ways than one. I’d done the research and was fully intending to write a book (still unwritten, by the way) but instead, I ended up by writing a one-woman play. Surprise to everyone, most of all to me.

So, even if it wasn’t a book, I’d still learned important things, and when the next brainstorm hit, I went berserk and wrote a 70,000 word manuscript in three weeks. All this, while I was working, although only part-time. I had no family nearby or significant other to get in my way, so I just typed like a maniac. Typed being the key word here – the night I finished it was the night my very first computer was hooked up and I was shown how to use it. So the next day, I started re-typing the manuscript into the computer, editing and changing words as I went along. I hadn’t even read the entire book when I did that. But the process taught me several very important lessons.

Nothing happens ‘til somebody writes something! Make that your mantra. I put off even starting to write my first book for about 15 years, based on the ‘I’ll write when I get caught up financially’ excuse.  Huh. That’ll happen never! Then it was ‘I need to get myself emotionally stable before I start on my book’. Another Huh! Probably at some point was ‘I need a better typewriter or computer‘, or printer or paper or something. Anything to put off actually plopping my rump in the chair and writing.

Now I just need to do that again. Just like you do, maybe. I’ve done it before, so I know I can, but there are just so … many … reasons… that get in my way.

Some things I learned along the way, however, might be of benefit to you, as well. While I was writing that first book, I was in such a hurry to get it done, I couldn’t be bothered reading it over every day or so to see what I’d written. I mean, I had written it, hadn’t I? Didn’t I know what was in there? Well, yeah, mostly I did know. (I pride myself on my exceptional memory, and we all know that saying ‘pride goeth before a fall’.) Anyway, I had planned to finally read it once it was done, and so I did–as I typed it into the computer. Remind me to tell you that story, some day. All about my first computer, I mean.

Anyway, all unknowingly, I’d stumbled on one of the great secrets of writing. It’s to WRITE, not read. Reading comes later—much later—when the writing is done. Of course, you can read before it’s ALL done, but you shouldn’t read it over and over and over before it’s done. It’ll never get done if you do that.                                                                                                                                                                                  When I typed that first book into my first computer, I quickly discovered one small problem. I didn’t have a printer! Ooops. How could I read this masterpiece if I couldn’t print it out? I didn’t worry about it. I figured that sooner or later I’d have a printer, and I could read it then. In the meantime, I wrote. Once I finished that book, I started on another play. For the next six years, I wrote either a full length book or a play each year. Then I made the mistake of easing off for a bit, and while I’ve written at least the equivalent of a set of encyclopedias in the intervening 16 years, I’ve yet to finish another full-length book. I’ve written lots of short stories, but no novels. That situation is going to change, soon. Guaranteed.

At any rate, eventually, I did get a printer, and printed out my book. I sat down and read it and thought – this isn’t that bad! I made corrections here and there plus a few changes, printed out new pages, and put the pages in a binder. Then came the fun part. Trying to figure out what to do with it. I made every mistake in the book as far as query letters and sending to the wrong publishers. But in the process, I discovered Romance Writers of America™, and they got me on the right track real quick, like.

And three years later, I held my first published book in my hands. (It was the third one I’d written, however, not the first one.)  Shortly before the book came out I went to get publicity photos taken. When I called to make the appointment, the photographer asked why I wanted the pix, so I told her. There was a gasp from her end of the line then she chuckled and said, “Couldn’t you just die happy now that your book is being published?”

“Yes,” I responded. “But I’ll tell you what. I could die a lot happier if I had a copy of my book in the coffin with me.” Someday, maybe.

In the meantime, it’s WRITE, BABY, WRITE!!! Always remember . . .

Nothing happens ‘til somebody writes something!

If you have questions about any of this, please ask? My e-mail is: bookmechanic@gmail.com


2 Responses to “Why you WON’T really write a book, unless –”

  1. Kay Blevins May 18, 2010 at 10:30 pm #

    Hey Kelly,
    When is an auto biography not an auto biography? How much ‘creativeness’ is reasonable? I ask mostly because the memory is not as clear as I would like it and although I am not particularly worried about being precise I would like to know.

    • bookmechanic May 19, 2010 at 1:37 am #

      Brilliant question! Thank you for it. I think it’ll make a dandy column once I find some answers for you. Keep looking – I’ll do my best.


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