Greetings, Friends ~
Having a book-length publication eminent, my awareness of others’ desire to see their own names in print has been heightened. I am reminded of my long journey and what it took to get here. Not only do I write every day, but like fellow writers, I constantly read. When you read a great deal, you quickly learn to separate well-written books from those of lesser quality. Certainly, there are excellent books for sale. Some, however, are not worth the purchase. When writers do not put in the time and hard work prior to publishing their books, those shortcuts become obvious.
In my view, there are only two types of pro writers. I am not talking about descriptive, expository, poetry, narrative, etc. I am referring to the two main types of people who write: 1) People who write but would never do so without compensation or other persuasion; and 2) People who are writers at their base. Those in the second group can be found scribing on lunch breaks, weekends and even on vacations. They sit by the ocean, around a campfire or by their bay windows, journals-in-hand, just…writing.
I am the second type, although I intentionally situated myself in careers that require me to do a lot of reading and writing. It was strategic, getting myself into these professional positions. Even in college, I knew I would not graduate and then suddenly become a well-published author. The next-best thing was to get paid every day doing something that moved me closer to my long-term goal.
The documents I have written which were published nationally often did not list my name as author. They are owned by the government because I was being paid on salary to write them. In fact, some of the best writers never get any public credit, nor is their work widely published under their own name. Ghost writers also come to mind.
Also indicative of a true writer is the sacrifices they are willing to make to become proficient. After working our respective 8-5 career jobs each day, my husband often finds me tucked away in solitude, working to capture whatever idea that woke me up the night before. No one told me to do that, nor did I have a sudden epiphany. I just showed up with writing hardwired into who I am. The sacrifices involved in developing my skills, however, were my choice. While everyone else was watching t.v….
Several of my paid vacations have been spent locked in my home office with the door shut focusing 100% on my manuscripts. I know I am in good company, as my peers in the craft have done it too. Not for a few hours here and there, mind you. But weeks at a time with the only interruption being showering, sleeping and eating. Knowing friends were vacationing somewhere on a white sand beach, I was hulled up with my laptop, chewing on my pencil erasers and reading out loud until my throat was sore.
There are exceptions to every rule. But when it comes to good writing, editing, and wide distribution of an author’s work, there is no way around it. It takes sacrifice – and a lot of it. If that sacrifice feels like a sacrifice, then writing may not be your thing. Editing won’t be, either. To me, working 10 hours a day in my regular paid job, and then spending another 4 hours each night on my books is heaven.
Fortunately, my years of hard work and perseverance have led me to 2015 – a year when several of my book-length publications will be released. In addition to my nonfiction book, Just Keep Breathing, I have three novels in progress. My first, The Rose Wall, has been written for almost a year. It will be edited in the Spring, followed, no doubt, by a massive rewrite.
Just Keep Breathing took me four years to complete and still, I do not see it as perfect. Perhaps it never could be. Its path to publication included several editors, countless rewrites and consistently reworking my original manuscript outline. That is just one book of six manuscripts I have in progress. All of it is being done in my spare time.
Also due for publication this year is my light-hearted, out-of-the-ordinary cookbook, Recipes From the Vault (Lessons From the Kitchen of Hard Knocks). I work on that manuscript at times when I must put my other manuscripts aside. Though authors must keep several plates spinning at one time, taking a break from heavy or intense composition is important. That does not mean we drop our writing for months on end. Writers….write.
In addition to composing a book intended for the stove-challenged among us, I am in the introductory phase of developing two online college classes. I have done a great deal of teaching and public speaking over my career. As well, I am an excellent editor. That said, good writers have good editors. I never edit my own publishable work anymore. Editing one’s own work is about as smart as representing oneself in court.
A writer’s job is to make any story seem as though it just effortlessly develops. That takes more work and skill than you might imagine. Writing also requires the ability to do thorough research, have good organization and the ability to take rejection well. That is true of both fiction and nonfiction authors.
A final thought to those who decide all-of-a-sudden to be the world’s next bestselling author. Read – a lot. Become proficient in high-level, complex editing. Take English classes. Do the long-term homework that is behind every successful author. And by all means, keep writing – constantly.
If you dig into any well-known author’s past, you will likely see evidence of their blood, sweat and tears spanning from the present time all the way back to their beginnings. It is not easy. It is not difficult. It is just either a part of who you are, or it is not.