What I would say to someone who is nervous about getting started with Book Writing
Do I think it’s difficult or scary to write a book?
Oh yes, it is.
But then again, no it isn’t.
It depends on you, I guess.
I learned it all the hard way, and it’s taken me a yawningly long time.
The time before stardom is always a bit, like zzzzzzz…, don’t you think? We just want to see someone get there, and tell us the secret, to give us, to hand out and over, the elixir, so that we can also just arrive at the goalpost, amid thundering applause, no?
These are the things I encountered:
- What I am going to write about? (Easy enough for the one prodigious, researched-to-within-an-inch-of-all-known-information-on-the-subject-available-to-mankind-book; for the other books I was going write before and after, not so much)
- For whom am I writing the book? (I’d love to say: for myself, but how is that going the pay the bills, exactly?)
- Why now, why did I decide now was the best time for this specific book? (Because I only have time now, when the kids are grown? Because I now want to, because I flippen well decided that now was the time? Does this sound like the best answer to you? Nah, to me neither.)
- Why am I the best or the right person to write about this subject? (I definitively am not, but am trying my best to keep the fact a secret from all my adoring fans.)
- How on earth am I going to write this, which methods will I use? (Now if only I knew that, then this book would have been written by now, would have almost written itself and this here article would have been moot.)
All this was obviously an overload on scary, but not scary enough.
No no, there was more, loads more.
I learned that I knew nothing, nothing, about writing, editing, publishing, promoting my book, or even how to properly use social media. (Why, oh why, must I do social? Can’t someone just like my writing without being my best friend? How many best friends can one person possibly have?)
I learned that my usage of the darling English language was suspect, as I’m from Africa, and thus speak a delicious hybrid-like version, interspersed and speckled with all sorts of other languages, which spelling leaves others perplexed and less than amused at times. And it leaves the grammar police needing smelling salts if they just get a whiff of this pungent porridge.
I thought I was too old (well, anyways, any age over 25 is old, isn’t it), not good enough (according to whom, yes, you may well ask, I don’t know this one either), too perfectionistic (dash my forefathers for their DNA legacies and purist, pedantic proclivities, but I love them anyway), my memory has gone into hiding (probably from fright, or from aforesaid age), which means re-reading stuff. All the grinding time.
I learned that I could not possibly write a book if I was not connected to the world and everyone in it, to all and sundry, because I would have to promote my book myself. No big daddy or momma was going to do it for me. Traditional publishing having been dragged, begging for mercy, into the new age of doing everything so independently for ourselves, all nicely grownup, oh drat, just when I’m writing a book, sigh).
So, I had to get an engaged and connected audience, and build relationships, before I wrote the book, whilst writing the book and long after the writing of said book. (What on earth has happened to writing on a deserted island or windblown, lonely coastline, and just sending someone your awe-inspiring, bestselling manuscript to polish and print?)
Add to this potpourri a decidedly private streak, mix in a big dollop of stubbornness and you have a fragrant recipe for “How to not get your book written – ever!”
Watch this space.
It will one day say: Published. Famous. Renowned. Celebrated. Honored. Respected.
My work will be loved and enjoyed, shared and bought by millions of people, from all around the world.
(Said she, very tongue-in-cheek, but who needs to know?) 😊
PS And there I’ve just giving you THE secret: all you need to do is to want to do it, and not have to do it.