Sunday, November 2, 2014

How to Be a Writer, Part Two

Have I mentioned my love of words here before? Okay, since that's been established, let's get serious. How do you take that love and manifest it? Countless friends and acquaintances have shared with me that they, too, want to write a book. I may be one of the few writers who doesn't yawn, roll their eyes, or excuse themselves from the conversation when this unsolicited confession is proffered.

Of course, you want to write a book! Who wouldn't want to be an author? Authors are sexy, mystery, intellectual, filled with wanderlust. (Let me delude myself at least for a sentence.) How often do I hear the name Hemingway tossed about in literary conversations with non-writers? We all go through our Hemingway phase (if just in our heads, and I'm due), and then we realize, okay, that doesn't work.

Let me tell you, the grand idea for your book will take you a long, long way. It will cuddle you at night. It will occupy your thoughts through dinners, holidays, sex, walks, snowstorms. I say, let it. If you have an idea germinating, who am I to tell you with a large flourish of my hands and a dismissive toss of the head, you're delusional.

Follow your delusion for a while, because it might get your project started -- that big grand idea of a novel that sweeps readers from epic corners of the globe and back again with characters no less wonderful than a James Bond or Natty Bumppo or Holly Golightly. You won't know unless you try.

If you do start, the most important part is to reach the end. The hardest part of any writing project is, as you would suspect, the writing. If you can't write through to an ending, then you'll never have something to work with, throw in the drawer, stab with the butcher knife. Really, you won't have something to revise. You won't have a draft to obsess over for two, five, ten years and wonder if you've lost your sanity. (That's a major theme on my blog, if you're just now joining me.)

That book in your head? It's all in your head unless you write it. So why are you here reading what I've written when you have work to do? Good luck.

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