Monday, May 30, 2011

This book writing business

It's hard, you know. You'll find no argument here.

But I wonder, does everyone find it this difficult? Does everyone grow despondent? How is it that some books get churned out in what feels like a matter of months (from concept to bookshelf) where some take - checking my watch - four years and counting to even find any backing? Is this not the Universe telling me to stop?

I'm sorry, folks, this is going to be a Debbie-downer of a post. A bleat. And I'm sorry, also, to any Debbie's. I'm sure you're not all downers.

I feel like that poor contestant you see in the opening weeks of American Idol. The one who is so convinced of her good singing voice. She stands before the three judges, confident as her nerves will allow. Her family waits outside, supporting her and driving the 9 hours across country just so she can try out in Idaho. It's the moment of reckoning for her. She proudly tells them what she's going to sing for them. They smile, certain that someone with so much self-belief and so much backing from family and friends must surely have a great voice. And then the sound comes out.... She doesn't hit a note, makes the production team's eyes water and they're not even musical. She's stopped with a flailing hand by Randy Jackson and that's it. It's all over. She is stunned beyond comprehension. Hadn't she been told she had such a beautiful voice? Had she not been told by her parents, her teachers, her friends and colleagues that she should go for it, if this is her dream? Ah... the penny probably begins to drop on that loooong, silent drive home. They never said she was good. They just kept saying they would support her as she follows her dream. There IS a difference.

I know there are many who would say KEEP GOING! But at what expense? I can't find more than twenty minutes here, five minutes there each day. That's not enough time to find my creator-space in my mind. That's not nearly enough minutes to get into the groove of what I'm writing. I need hours of space. To sit still and listen to what the book is telling me to write. I need time to let the words mull over in my still silence.

When the latest bit of fluff comedic book comes out, it's easy to sell. You're pretty much preaching to the converted. When it's a memoir traversing the depths of grief and seeking the good in all manner of daily interactions.... well, that's proving much harder. Who wants to choose my manuscript over something light?

Everywhere around me online, there are tips and tricks and hints to make my book more polished. Less offensive to the "done" ways of the publishing industry. The tips are as random - valid, but random - as "Don't overuse the word "Suddenly"" and "Never begin your book with a Prologue".

Well... that's just great. That is exactly how mine starts. No, not with the word "Suddenly". I mean it just begins with a current-time pondering moment in a scene that sets up the entire book. That's all.

If something you've worked so hard at is taking so long to come.... Do you take a step back and say "This shouldn't be so hard, I think I'll stop"? In some ways, I feel like I am flogging a horse that stopped a few years ago. It seemed easier to write back then - back when I was far from approaching agents. Far from feeling like I was close. This is proving a huge lesson for me, one that has shown itself many times in my life. Will I take myself out of the running of this race before there's a chance I will come last? Or worse, not even get over the finish line?? This is my pattern. This is something that will kill me early, I have such a desire not to "fail".

I should have known the biggest thing in the way of this book getting out would be me. I just didn't expect to get this far before I realised.

What do you do when you've put so much into something you are trying to achieve but the end result relies not on YOU, but on finding something/someone external who has the same passion for the project?

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