This is where it all happens…
If you’d like to listen to this post, click ‘play’ right above…
I haven’t said much about this for a while… the dream.
Anyone remember that I’m writing a book? I’m in Halifax to get on with that dream. So if it appears by the nature of my posts that I’m kicking up my heels having a party… well kind of I am sometimes, but mostly, I’m busy on the dream…
You see… when I was working in industry, half of me was never really there. The real part of me was in my head writing stories and poems, which leaked into my work sometimes. (Go back and read some of the ad copy I wrote for the University of Waterloo. It’s actually poetry. I don’t know how I got away with it without anyone noticing.)
The truth is… there’s always been a voice niggling—write a book, write a book, write a book. So here I am… with a year or so to get this thing out of my head, once and for all.
To help with the task, I have some added pressure. In my MFA writing program, I actually have to write a book to graduate.
After the first residency in August, my classmates and I were sent off to get busy. For the first three weeks, I did little more than fret about the task. Write a book? Me? I’d sit at my computer… and… nothing. Next day… nothing. Yah… that wasn’t gonna get me anywhere. Turns out writing a book is a mother of an undertaking, even if it’s something you want to do.
In lieu of writing, I thought maybe I’d figure out how to write a book mathematically.
So, I researched how many words are in the average book (80,000) and then figured how many words I would need to write being because it was my first book half of it would be crap that I would have to pitch (80,000 – 40,000). Okay. So I needed 160,000 words to edit down to the 80,000.
Next, I figured out how many words I’d need to pump out per day in order to get to that 160,000 words by the end of the year, with weekends off and other stuff here and there… Let’s… 3000 – 3500.
Word count was a start, but I also needed a threat. Easy. I decided I was allowed to have my coffee in the morning, followed by an hour run outside, but then I would self-banish to my office and not allow myself to leave or do anything else until I had written the required word count. Ask my sons, I am a scary disciplinarian, even with myself.
Miraculously, the day after making this decision, I forced myself to plop my butt into my office chair and I did it. I wrote the words. And, for the most part, I have continued to do this every day, pumping out the words.
Now, before you think… easy-peasy, lemon-squeezie, please remember that I also have to write assignments AND this blog… and I post to this blog EVERY week.
Anyway, I am at 64,383 words. Getting there, and I have time to get to my goal well before the end of the year, my self-imposed deadline.
From there, I’ll be giving myself a year to edit the mess first draft from that bloat of 160,000 words into an 80,000 word coherent story that someone might actually want to read. Believe me. I may be a wishy-washy go-along with whatever a lot of the time, but not when it comes to my goals. I expect I’ll be done the edit on schedule, a year from now.
Now, what I have learned from my program is that writing the book is barely half the work. The other half is selling it… which is what I will have to do once I’m done.
Publishing a book is HARD. Case in point. Heard of the movie Still Alice, with Juliana Moore? Well, that was a book first. A good book. Lisa Genova wrote it, and yup, she couldn’t get an agent or publisher to take a second look at it. So she self-published, and after a year of self-marketing, slogging around the country promoting and selling it on her own dime and time, she eventually sold it to a publisher… overnight success, Ha!
Now, let’s just say I do manage to convince an agent to take me on and/or publisher to publish, I will then have to PROMOTE the book… which means I will be selling it out of my trunk and please answer the doorbell when I get to your house.
Writing might be the easy part.
But guess what? I don’t care. I don’t care how hard it is to publish. I don’t care that I sit in my little closet office every day for hours by myself (desk is in the hall between the bedrooms… no windows… no outside world… and opening the closet door bumps me off my chair.)
I don’t care because I know the secret that will get that book out of my head.
Ready? You decide you want to do it and then you write. You write when you don’t want to and when you want to. You write when the sun is shining and the only place you want to be is outside but you still write because you know the call to make words is stronger than anything else in your life. You put heart, soul and being into it hour upon hour in front of a screen… you do it alone… you sit there… typing away. That’s what you do.
Write… and try to ignore the distractions…
On the phone with a cousin who was helping me with some of my research, my son, Warren, came home from school.
“Mom, get off the phone.”
I waved him away in the middle of my cousin talking of the world of our ancestors (women died in childbirth and the men were lost at sea and children were seen and not heard).
“Mom, get off the phone. I have some news.”
I hung up and joined him in the living room, ten steps from my “office.”
“You’ll never guess who I saw today.”
I couldn’t guess, so he showed me the photo of him and Bryan Cranston.
Breaking Bad aside… the dad from Malcolm in the Middle man! As a boy-mom to 3 sons + 1 nephew, I am more Hal than Lois, Cranston a family hero. Last year Warren and I watched the entire series, every episode, yet again…
We danced around for a bit and, and when I calmed down, Warren gave me every last detail. (I made sure to be the first to touch Warren’s right hand and skim off some of Cranston’s cells from their handshake.) Eventually, screamed out, I went back to my office and to my writing.
So yah, following the dream, but having a bit of a party with Warren too, which sometimes includes some of his dreams, like meeting Bryan Cranston.
PS You must know the drill by now… If you like what you read, please follow me. There are two boxes… Click the “follow” box at the bottom of the screen, and NOT the one that has a little ‘w.’ Pop in your email, and you will be sent a confirmation email. Open it, okay it and bish, bam boom… you will get an email with telling you I’ve posted… which is once a week. Think of me slaving away… in my little hall office dungeon… pumping out these posts… your following makes me smile….