THOUGHTS OF A WANNA BE…
I throw the clock out the window. My how time flies. Could it be that at least fifteen years have passed since I began writing my first book? Why so long? A combination of life, excuses, procrastination, maybe intimidation, the AWOL nature of Muse…a list too lengthy to mention. Although I have had articles published in corporate newsletters and Grand Strand Magazine, there has been no book to hold in my hands or to read electronically.
My original intent was to produce a private record of my early life in the event (unlikely though that might be) current and future generations of my family should give a hoot.
So, why get back to work on this unfinished project now? The increased amount of post-retirement hours, my participation in a creative writing class through Coastal Carolina University’s Osher Life Long Learning Institute (OLLI), my having become a member of the Coastal Authors Network (CAN), the adventure of trying to “find my voice,” have been factors. In addition, and most compelling, has been a recent unexpected health event which has been a stark reminder of life’s uncertainties and the need to “make hay while the sun shines.”
The constructive criticism of the other CAN members has been…and continues to be… invaluable. I know my writing is better as a result. My fellow writers (most of whom have published books) have encouraged me to write for a broader audience than family. Furthermore, they have concurred that the book should be a three-part memoir OR become a trilogy.
Part/Book One is about my first decade of life in North Carolina. Part/Book Two is about my parents’ assignment (and therefore my family’s) to the island of Barbados. The final Part/Book Three covers our move to the jungles of South America’s British Guiana before the country’s name change to “Guyana,” a place unknown by a large segment of the world’s population. Unknown, that is, until Jim Jones and the Peoples Temple murders and mass suicides put Jonestown, Guyana, on the international stage.
So where am I now? I’m reviewing/revising/creating additional manuscript chapters of Part/Book One. I have found this step to be at times exhausting, challenging, revitalizing. There have been those “why am I doing this” moments (if not days). Feelings of being overwhelmed have occasionally meandered through my mind, threatening to take up residence. And to think I haven’t even begun the printing or marketing efforts cause me to realize I’m with Frost…there are “miles to go before I sleep.”
IF I were in a position to give advice, I’d say:
If you’re wanting to write a book, or if you’re hoping to write another…start…NOW.
Join a writers group composed of members who care more about each other than their own egos. Individuals who are quick to provide direct, honest, constructive criticisms. Take the criticisms to heart.
Discover your own “voice.” My high school English teacher would be mortified to see that all my writing is not diagrammable. I have come to believe that written beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I’ve been a long-time fan of the late Pat Conroy. Yet, I know folks who don’t care for his style of writing, considering him too verbose. Readers will either like or dislike what you write.
In addition to developing your own “voice,” determine writing approaches which work best for YOU. Some authors advise writing “something” every day regardless of whether or not the “something” is related to your “work in progress.” I have not been disciplined enough to adopt such advice. What times of your day are the most creative ones and does your life schedule afford you the opportunity to write during those creative hours? If not, what alternatives exist?
Do not be deterred by those “WHY AM I DOING THIS” episodes. Carry on.
Decide when it’s time to say “enough, already.” No more revisions. Repeated polishings have given this manuscript as much sheen as is necessary, if not ideal.
Depending on your plans for the book, learn what’s required to make the book a reality. Will you engage an editor? What is involved in publishing? Do you want to independently publish or use a traditional publisher? What about cover design, pictures, illustrations? How will you go about marketing? What resources are available to accomplish all the necessary steps? How much will all of this cost and what financial resources are available?
Grab opportunities to participate in events designed to aid aspiring and repeat authors as well as provide book-selling venues. One such occasion, sponsored by CAN, is planned for February 19-21, 2019 (check Coastal Authors Network website http://www.coastalauthorsnetwork.com for details).
Since I don’t believe I’m in a position to give advice, I’m simply sharing my thoughts as a wanna be book author whose journey has been…and continues to be…my own. A trip along what does indeed appear to be by a road less traveled.
I’ve said nothing in this blog which is profound or hasn’t been already said better by successful writers of multiple genres and generations.
Oh, please excuse me. I need to get back to the manuscript before the Muse departs.