Why do you want to write a book, anyway?

18 Aug

We’re all friends here, right? So, then, may I ask an impertinent question?

Why do you want to write a book, anyway?

What do you hope to accomplish by writing this (or any) book?

These are tricky questions, to be sure. But truly, if you answer honestly, the answers might surprise even you.  There are probably as many reasons for this particular project as there are people. But you might find it helpful to know exactly what it is you wish to accomplish. Let’s examine a few reasons.

1.  It’s the sense of accomplishment!

2.  I think I have something to say.

3.  Doesn’t everyone want to write a book about something?

4.  I’d like to tell my family’s history for my grandchildren – before I forget everything and there won’t be anyone else who’ll remember, either.

5.  People tell me I’m a born story-teller, so why shouldn’t I?

6.  I have all these ideas tumbling around in my head, so I think I need to put some of them on paper.

7.  I’ve had a fabulous life – did all kinds of things people said I couldn’t do, but I did them anyway, and I’d like to use my life story to encourage other people to do their thing.

Okay. You get the idea. You’ll notice that nowhere here is listed – to make money. Forget that idea right now. You might make a few dollars,  but it’s really, really hard to make that happen. You really cannot do anything else much in your life except write, write, write – and hope that enough other people like what you do to want to gather all your books to their collective bosoms and make you a millionaire.

Oh! I forgot one!

8.  To have my book be one of Oprah’s Book Club. (You have to write gloomy to qualify, but maybe you can do that!)

A good friend of many years ago (a fabulous editor and proof-reader she was, too) told me once upon a time—rather casually—that  she had written several books.  I was astonished by this news, as she’d never previously even hinted at such a thing.

“Have they been published?” I asked.

“No,” she said, rather sadly, with a shake of her silver curls. “They’re here, in the drawer.”  “Did you submit them to any publishers?” I asked.

“No.”

“But whyever not?” I asked again. “You’re such a good editor, I’m sure you’re a good writer.”

“Oh, I am,” she stated matter-of-factly. “But I couldn’t let anyone change anything, and editors always want to change something.”

Well, that’s true. To a point. They do. That’s what editors do, and if you luck into a good editor, he or she will make your writing better and stronger: more cohesive and coherent in the process. I should clarify that and say, ‘that’s what editors used to do.’ Some of them still do. A good editor will never try to re-write your book. That’s what’s called ‘editorial intrusion’ and you don’t need to allow it. Of course, you may end up not being published, in that instance, but it’s your choice whether to allow such interference. Generally, you may appeal to a higher authority within the publishing firm, or you can ask for your contract to be cancelled.

Another friend, who is multi-published, once told me that sending your manuscript off to the publisher (even if it isn’t your first time) is very akin to parading around Public Square (in downtown Cleveland) during lunch hour. Naked.  I laughed when he told me that, but it’s fabulous description of exactly how you feel when you do drop that envelope in the mailbox. It’s a bit like sending your kid off to school for the first time. And guess what? It NEVER gets any easier!

No matter how long the relationship has been in existence, or how much your editor adores your style, or how much you’ve discussed this project during it’s gestation, it’s still a traumatic thing to actually put it out there.

But truly, not every book that’s written needs to be published for a mass-audience.  Families are so spread out these days, stories and family history can all too easily get lost or forgotten. It’s really important for someone to be the family scribe, and in that case, a spiral-bound photocopied book might end up being a family’s greatest treasure.

Whatever your reason for writing, just keep on doing it! Don’t worry about the reasons why,  just write! Figuring out what to do with it once it’s done can happen at a later date. But nothing will ever happen unless you write something first. No matter what it is, it has to be written down before anyone can ever read it. And let’s face it, typed words are infinitely easier to read than hand-written ones. With one exception – love notes. They’re treasured forever,  just as they are!

So, here’s the commercial. You knew there would be one sooner or later, didn’t you?

For the last couple of months, I’ve been struggling with trying to get my first published book re-issued in a POD version – regular and large print, plus Kindle. One of these weeks, I’ll tell you all the lessons I learned while doing this. But finally, tonight, I’m pleased to advise you that the regular print version of Secret Shores is now available here: https://www.createspace.com/3462382 I hope you like it!  It will soon be available at all the Amazon.com sites (internationally, as well as domestic) along with the Kindle version, and, a week or so after that, the large-print version!

So — don’t just sit there, write something!  Someday, you may send folks to the web to find your book!

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