Writer, Author, or Published Author – Pick Your Poison
A lot of people want to be a writer…they fantasize that “someday” they will write a paper, book or novel. Everyone has an interesting story (even if it is just interesting to themselves), and many want to memorialize their thoughts, experiences, their life, or just tell a story.
That’s a great aspiration, but is it really for you? As I mentioned in previous posts, I’m not just going to talk about the lives, dedication and experiences of those who protect us, but also on the process of writing about those events and people – and of writing in general.
I don’t want to put a damper on anyone’s efforts, but I do want to insert a little reality here. It’s not as glamorous or as easy as shows like “Castle” make it out to be. It’s hard work, but if you’re serious, it can have its own rewards.
Once, a couple of decades ago, I was on my neighbor’s back patio having a scotch. I knew that besides being a motivational speaker, he was also a published author. I’d had some thoughts about a book in my head for over twenty years at that time, so after we had contemplated the state of the world for a while, I just came out an asked him.
I said “Jimmie, how do you write a book – what does it take to become a writer?”
He cocked his head, like he does…put down his cigar and took a drink of his scotch (The Macallan, of course), and asked me why I asked that question. After I explained that I’d had something in my head for a while, and had always wanted to write about it, he answered.
“There is a very complicated and difficult process to becoming a writer. If you’re really serious about becoming a writer, I’ll tell you the secret”, and he looked at me. I told him I was serious, and he said, “Then if you really want to be a writer, here’s the secret. Go sit down somewhere, and write.”
I’m a very disciplined guy…former Marine, law enforcement guy, etc., etc…, but I’d been sitting around for over 20 years just thinking about writing something that was eating a hole in my head. I just never started writing. It was always something I was going to do…
I picked up my glass, walked over to my house next door, sat down, and wrote the first chapter of my first book right then and there. It was a cathartic moment, and changed my entire perception of writing.
Now lots of folks write something (becoming a writer), and even finish the project (becoming an author), but then never go on to publish what they wrote (becoming a published author). That is something I’ll talk about in a later post.
As hard as it was to actually start writing, it is even harder to keep writing sometimes. As an example of where you can run into difficulties, I’ve had some stumbling blocks with the novel I’m currently writing, The Making of a Warrior (the first book in a ten book series). The book is organized a bit differently than a lot of them are, with the timeline moving back and forth between the present and the past. It sounds a bit complicated, but each book is different, and this is the layout that makes sense for this first book of the series.
Some of the chapters were easy for me to write – they just flowed out onto the paper. Unfortunately, a couple of them from the past were very difficult for me...because I didn’t have all the information I needed to make them realistic. This caused me to stall the book, struggling over those chapters.
After months of struggling, the solution turned out to be very simple, and had been right in front of me all the time. I decided to ignore the early chapters from the past, move forward with the book, and then come back and fill in the first few difficult chapters after I had finished the rest of it. That wouldn’t break my flow of writing, and would also give me time to gather the information I needed to complete those earlier chapters.
I had always known what I was going to write about – and that is key to actually writing. Pick your passion. Something you really know well, or really enjoy, or just a flight of fancy that you can follow through a storyline…and jump in.
There are a lot of difficulties in writing, but a lot of rewards if you do decide to actually “go sit down somewhere, and write.” I look forward to talking with you about those soon, and would love to read some of your comments as well.
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