“I’m writing my book“
I can’t think of a more wildly pretentious thing to say. For extra snooty points, I should always refer to it as a novel. Either way, it’s certainly way more hoity-toidy than saying “I’m working on my blog post about Gilligan’s Island”
That being said, I’ve been working on a novel for several years. For the record, my “work” on it has been sporadic at best. It’s not unlike someone buying oil paints and a canvas and proclaiming that they’re “working on a painting”. The canvas is all set up on the easel, the tubes of paint are laid out next to the palette, the brushes are ready and willing. Six months later, the entire tableau sits there inert and is covered with a thin coating of dust, the canvas still about as blank as Sarah Palin’s resume.
Last week, I went to the beach for my annual 7 days of vacation. I told myself that since it was a vacation, I would not be writing my blog. I was going to spare my family the sight of me hunched over the laptop all day and night typing some annoyingly self-absorbed blather and then forcing them all to read it. Besides, it’s nearly impossible to work on my skin cancer and type at the same time, I’d end up with white frown-wrinkles running across my rather expansive forehead like elevation lines on a topographical map of Mars.
I opted for a more noble pursuit during vacation, I’d work on writing my book – I’m sorry, my novel.
I typically start my vacation days up by 5 A.M., standing knee-deep in the Atlantic watching the sun come up while not catching fish. This year, I managed to forget my fishing equipment entirely in the frenzy to pack everything else we own into the car. Not to worry, I’d still get up at 5, but spend my quiet morning hours writing instead. I pictured myself out on the deck, the cool morning breeze swirling the steam from my nearby cup of coffee as I wrote chapter after chapter. When the rest of the family eventually stumbled out of bed, I’d click “save”, shut down the laptop and start cooking breakfast, changing diapers and putting sunblock on them – the family members, not the diapers.
Sounds positively romantic doesn’t it?
My first morning on the deck proved to be less than successful. It turns out when you’re situated two blocks from the ocean to the east and two blocks from the bay on the west, there’s lot’s of condensation on the furniture at dawn’s early light. I went back inside on tip toes and found towels for the chair and table. I sat myself down and flipped open the laptop. Sadly, there was enough early light in the sky by then that I got lots of glare on the screen, and more than a few bugs. If you want to see a “no-see-um” just have them land all over your computer screen.
I shifted to Plan B – moving my coffee, laptop and funky-bad-self into the living room. I got cozy in a large armchair, propped my feet up on the ottoman, took a sip of coffee, and opened the file.
I knew better than to think that I’d just start writing, so I busied myself reading what I had so far. Before long, I had found some redundancies and inconsistencies. I reworked a few awkward sentences, moved some things around. As for putting new words on the screen, I didn’t get to that before the rest of the family started getting up and requiring my attention.
The days ticked by as I tried unsuccessfully to get some actual writing done. I had switched from the upholstered chair to the dining room chair with the computer on the table top.
Finally, after four days of trying, I was able to write a little bit. Not multiple chapters, but some pages.
I realized what actual writers already know; writing is work. It’s not supposed to be relaxing or something you do because you have some free time. It’s not necessarily easy to do. The end result will hopefully appear fluid and engaging – the effortless telling of a story – but there’s sweat behind it.
Unlike many pursuits, like boatbuilding or biomedical research, writing a book is something that anyone can say they’re doing. Go steal yourself a legal pad from work, or open a new Word file. Name it “book project”, hit save, and you’re a self proclaimed author. On some level, that’s exactly who I am. More correctly, that’s who I was. I am vowing right here before my massive population of blog readers – all 16 of you – to not tell anyone that I am writing a novel, until I have actually written at least 3/4’s of one.
I’m going to hit “publish” now and rid myself of this post so that I can focus on my novel.
When I’m done with my novel, I’m considering taking a break from writing to try my hand at boat building or working in oils.
36 thoughts on “Silence Everyone, I’m Writing My Book!”
I’m cheering you on right now! I’m in the exact same boat, except maybe still at the part where I can’t see the computer screen and am sitting on a towel.
It really is HARD WORK to make it look effortless. But I have all the faith in the world! In you, that is. LOL
Thanks Jules…I was a little apprehensive about posting this, as I have crossed paths with several people who i consider to be serious, legit writers on this site, and didn’t want to insult them in any way.
Not to sound shallow, but i think that part of the challenge of writing a book is the lack of applause and cheers from the grandstand. It’s just me and my critical eye. I don’t want to share my book until it’s much further along, and even then, I don’t know if a single chapter will stand on its own.
The other day, Cristy Carrington Lewis actually posted one of her chapters (I assume you read her – she’s incredible). It blew me away. I realized how far I was from that point. Anyway, I won’t get anywhere without getting off this ass.
PS – I updated my “updates” page.
FYI: The blog is “The Paultry Meanderings of a Taller Than Average Woman” – she kicks ass.
I took my notebook with me on vacation last week thinking I would work on something and never even took it out of the bag. I find it impossible to hold any thoughts in my head with my family around, even if they are sleeping! Have you read ‘On Writing’ by Stephen KIng? He talks about his process of writing… it was fascinating to me and I learned a lot about editing myself (except in very long comments). You are a funny, funny guy. All the best to you as you pen your novel. (That was to help you feel all legit as an author). 🙂
I have thoughts in my head when my family’s around, but not ones I’d write down. Just kidding of course, we’re a regular Norman Rockwell painting here!
I’ll have to look up the Stephen King piece. I haven’t really enjoyed much of his since “The Shining”, but you can’t say he’s not productive.
Thanks for the compliments, I’m going to print them onto parchment and press them like wildflowers in my diary!
As always..I enjoyed reading this blog…I love the way you write and I cannot wait to read your novel…so get writing…I too…have a novel sitting somewhere in a file on my mac…that I started a few years back…haven’t attempted to open it up in sometime but now you have me thinking about it….Good Luck…and those no see um’s are killers..how can something so tiny have such a big bite..Thery’re out today in full force at our BH which sits across the from marsh on water no wind…no see um’s and greenheads..
We were down in Sea Isle…the greenheads were out in force in the afternoon – causing us to do the slap-that-fucker-while-trying-to-get-showered-outside dance. In retrospect, smashing my body parts into various structural elements of the outside shower usually hurt worse than the greenhead bites themselves.
Ahh, nothing ever goes quite as planned, does it? 🙂
Well…in theory, it was a great idea.
Good for you for even trying. I second the book On Writing by Stephen King. I’ve read it twice and it is without a doubt the best book on the writing craft I’ve read. First thing he said, (and I agree with) don’t share your writing with anyone until the first draft is completely finished. And even then, be selective. I make the mistake of looking back and reading what I wrote before and even that is counterproductive because then I end up hating what I wrote…then the self-doubts creep in. you start editing the shit out of it and next thing you know, you’re stuck.
I (like everyone else on this planet it seems) am currently in the middle of writting a book. I am trying to just keep plugging away, writing a few pages…then a few more. There will be time to edit it with my next draft. The first draft is usually riddled with mistakes and crap you have to weed through to get to the good stuff: the story.
Good luck with your book/novel. And finding the time to work on it…I hear you there. But like King said, no excuses, no whining about not having time (I still do though) Anyway, I’m sure it will be fabulous once you’re finally finished!
I’m trying, (aren’t we aall?) but I think I need to be stricter with myself on forcing myself to write every single day.
When I was an undergrad majoring in fine arts, I met an artist. He told me that he drew at least 3 drawings every single day, in addition to whatever projects he was doing. Some of them were doodles on cocktail napkins, some were pen and ink on board. At the end of the year, he’d have 1000 drawings. He’d immediately throw away half of them, He’d take the remaining 500 and throw away the lesser half of those. He’d distill the remaining 250 down to 125, then pick the best 100 or so and have a little show somewhere, taking almost every inch of the wall space up. People would come in and marvel at the quality and quantity of his work, unaware that he had thrown 900 drawings in the trash to get to the 100 they saw in the gallery.
While I think blogging has definitely helped me to find my “voice” and get used to writing (almost) every day, I think that sometimes it gets in the way of my novel. By the same token, writing in a vacuum is tough, and like you, I end up feeling like everything I have on the page is crap.
Still…all I have to do is pick up some horribly best selling paperback (Pick one), and I’ll know I can write a book.
It’s a struggle…but what the hell else am I supposed to do, collect stamps?
I love that story about the artist. Isn’t that the truth! We have to edit and edit and throw out the crap to get to that buried gold. Like King said, the hardest thing to do is ‘kill your darlings’ –your words. We think our words are our babies, we get too attached to them and think we need to puff up our sentences with too many. Really, my best stories started out three times as long until I cut out most of it. Now if I could just stop blogging long enough to work on that damned book of mine….
Some of my more successful blogs have been 100 word challenges and The Seven Deadly Sins, partly because they’re limited to 600 words.
I did manage to cut a few words from my book, including some sentences which I was in love with…
I really don’t ewant to lose my “blog brethren” at the expense of working on the book…maybe if I stopped wasted time sleeping…or working my day job….
Exactly. We do fall in love with our own words. We’ve gotta be ruthless and cut ’em out.
And I was just saying to pegoleg: too bad real life things like making money, paying the bills and sleeping get in the way all the time. Keeping up with a blog is hard work (which is why I’m on break!)
Once k8edid posts the finalists for the “sloth” chapter of the 7 Deadly Sins, I’ll post mine on my blog with it’s snazzy illustration, whether I make the finals or not. I don’t want to lose the little bit of momentum I’ve got going on the book, but I don’t want to lose my blog momentum either (whatever the hell that is).
Do you read “The Paultry Meanderings of a Taller Than Average Woman” on WordPress? She writes very well, and recently posted a chapter from the book she’s working on. It really impressed the hell out of me, even though I already held her in high regard.
Anyway, enjoy your “down” time, happy reading and relaxing!
I did just check out her blog–she is amazing! I love her writing style. Hope you have a relaxing holiday as well! I aim to do nothing the rest of this week on the computer, wish me luck.
Good luck! Related to the whole writing/reading “book” thing, I saw a recent New Yorker cartoon with this caption: “I’ve been reading a book just to see if I can still do it.”
Nice job of impressing me by casually slipping a reference to a New Yorker cartoon into your comment.
It’s a strange world we live in. I’m figuring that I’ll find my voice as a novelist just in time for publishing to cease in favor of the entire world getting their cultural feedings strictly from Twitter and YouTube. The way things are going, Tosh.0 is considered deep and watching an entire Daily Show is akin to reading War and Peace.
Still I’ll soldier on. My feeling at this point is that I need to finish this book just so I can start writing a better one.
All right, #soldier! I admire your @fortitude, dude… Oh, and check out my video: youtube.com/ADHD.
I tried, but the link didn’t work….or was that some kind of twisted joke?!?
Yes, I’m the poster child for ADHD… And I could use some meds right about now…
I’m reading along getting all jealous that you had this wonderful spare time at the shore to write something amazing that would most likely land you on Oprah, and then BAM reality hits like a freaking sledge hammer. You’re killing me.
Since your best work seems to be “short type stories” why don’t you consider that for your book. I for one love reading essay type writings…just a thought. Cheering you on for success on your journey.
Actually, I’m seriously considering taking my 7 Deadly Sins entires and making a small book out of them. Each sin kind of stands on its own, but they will hopefully create a story as the reader stiches them together themselves as they read them. The “sloth” entry is over at k8edid’s site now, and I’ll be posting on my own blog in the next day or two, complete with another illustration. “Lust” is underway, and should have lots of competition, since people love writing about the naughty stuff.
As for the essay type writings, the lazy thing to do would be to just take a generous helping of the ones I’ve slready written and posted here and somehow pacakge them together. First, though, I’ll have to come up with a really snazzy title for it.
There’s only one “occupation” more fun than being a writer…..being a novelist…writing a novel…a book…sitting down and just…writing….pages and/or chapters with sentences using words. Could, just maybe, have drawings, illustrations, pictures….
Dairy farmer…yessiree…dairy farmer. Way more fun.
Dairy farmer? Sounds bucolic to outsiders like me.
I admire your dedication to trying to write a book. I admire that even more since I no longer even hope to write one myself, and have degenerated into smaller and smaller forms. Hope you don’t lose that momentum, so don’t ever read what you wrote until you are done.
Fishing in the Atlantic and writing a novel? Sounds positively Hemingway! Best of luck with the project!
Sadly more Marielle than Ernest
Congrats! I think it’s awesome that you’re writing a book. And sorry sometimes I guess I am snooty and call it a novel 🙂 Good for you for working on it during a vacation. My favorite line … “the effortless telling of a story – but there’s sweat behind it.” Good line.
Thanks…of course, now that I’m home I’vef allen back into the blog trap. The novel is bearing signs of neglect…I’ll just finish this next post…
The dilemma of editing the “novel” has plagued all of us want-ta-be authors. What I have experience as of late is it does require passion and discipline to finish what has been started. I have a few unfinished projects on the computer and outside in the yard..oh, and the unfinished sewing project (since Christmas). So the passion has waned and the discipline has dissipated as new projects has taken their place. Sounds like I fired myself from the first “job” and quit and went on to a new “job”. Could be if the passion is gone. So to grab hold of that first love, we must recommit to it and make a fresh start. Hold true to the goal to finish what you have started. You will thank yourself and hold your head high even if it isn’t a best seller. You are now an author ..published or not. That sounds like a “marriage” with your “novel” Grab that passion and run with it and enjoy the journey. We will still love you if blogging takes second fiddle. Follow your first love…write!!!!
It’s all writing, but my problem with the novel is as soon as it sits, it gets stale, then it’s that much harder to get enthused about
If your rough draft has not been written then I see your “problemo”. If you have an outline of where you are heading and want to finish…then take chunks of it at a time…as in eating an elephant…one bite at a time… My “novel” was written on my over nite shift at Walmart (Oregon)..in the break room with co workers egging me on as I shared bits and pieces to them..Several wished to be in my story and so I said Sure…you are the tow truck driver…the drunk driver (or one who fell asleep at the wheel) and you are the hitchhiker(guardian angel)…so the story continued..gave myself a year to get it written and did. Now the editing part,,I signed up for a class (2 yr course) to find out what I didn’t know about writing…a lot! But I did find out I enjoy writing as I write children stories now (unpublished) with grandchildren as my inspiration as I retired from Wally last year. Sitting here on the Oregon coast Newport, loads of artists and writers around to encourage every writer. So don’t throw in the towel..keep throwing those words out there to see any of them stick.
don’t worry…i’ll keep plugging away…by the way, i went to grad school at the u of o many years ago…still have family out there and my heart is all over that state
Been hanging here since ’82 mostly on the coast (Brookings and Gold Beach) but do hail from MN…Oregon is the best kept secret…my siblings can’t find me (apparently the road goes from west to east)..Two boys live in Eugene..One in Portland and One in Medford…Daughter is here with 6 of our 11 grands. Loving all of it. Happy plugging along…see you one the blog.