Blood, sweat, tears, and more than a few crushed dreams…and that’s only the beginning
I’ve had the pleasure of helping more than one friend celebrate a very special birthday.
Each was such an exciting day for every one of those authors, marking the end point (or, perhaps not really…there’s all the marketing, book signings, promotion etc. still to come) of a very long journey.
The writing of a book parallels a pregnancy, at least in my mind it does. In both, a fully developed entity is created from nothing. This is a slow process, beginning with a spark of life, then building tiny piece by tiny piece, until the end result is nothing short of a miracle.
Of course, when you’re building a baby, your body does that building without your conscious awareness. Sure, you may feel morning sickness, and other physical discomforts, but as far as the actual creation process, you just go along for the ride, eating sleeping, working, while your body creates this miracle. Unlike writing a book, where you are COMPLETELY aware of the massive amount of work that is required.
Oh, and most often, the gestation period for a book is MUCH longer.
Recently, I’ve thought a lot about all that is required to take a book from a sparkle in someone’s mind, to an actual published piece of work, whether that be a digital copy, or one in print.
Guess what? It’s a hell of a lot of work!
A short time back, I had a glass of water sitting on my bedside table, and because I didn’t want to mark the wood, I’d pulled an old paperback from my bookcase and I’d set the glass on top of the book.
It took a moment for this flippant act to sink in. When it did, I freaked out and apologized out loud to this poor author whose blood, sweat and tears I’d so blithely used as a COASTER!
Ashamed, I gently wiped the surface of the book, (which was not damaged, by the way) and placed it carefully back into the safety of my bookcase.
How easy is it for us, as readers, to consume the words of others without giving the slightest thought to what it took to create those words. I used to do it, all the time. I devoured books in massive quantities. I read, and occasionally re-read because the book was so amazing I couldn’t get it out of my head. But more often I read and tossed aside, I read and returned to the library without a second thought, or worse, I read, and ripped apart the book— Gasp! Not physically, I’m not that big of a monster —filled condemnation for the author who had failed to entertain me like I’d expected to be entertained.
Iwill never again underestimate what it takes to birth a book. Now that I am attempting to produce my third polished manuscript myself, I understand the pain and agony of the hours, months, and even years it takes to write those words, and then often the same length of time to edit them.
I’ve bled from wounds gouged across my soul from critiques that were supposed to inform and assist, but instead sliced and shredded my confidence.
I’ve stressed over word choice and passive voice, removed adverbs, murdering darlings, and slashed filler words. And let’s not forget the rewriting. I’ve re-written scenes, chapters, and entire stories, and just when I’ve thought I was finally finished, I’ve started all over again.
And let’s not even talk about the process of seeking publication, only a sadist would subject you to that, and only a masochist would want to listen. Perhaps that’s a topic for another post.
Yep, writing a book is damn hard work. Not sure why any of us do it.
But, I suppose when our only option is not writing, there’s not really a choice, is there?