How to Write a Book, First.

by | being a writer | 1 comment

I thought this would be the triumphant year in which I wrote a book.

Apparently, it is to be the year I learn to write a book.

(If you’re following, yes—I still plan to have it finished soon.)

Three months will mark the anniversary of setting off to finish my little “masterpiece.”

By the end of October 2016, I thought I had everything necessary to push it through the final rounds of editing.

By the end of January 2017, I realized the whole thing needed to be rewritten. (Upwork beta readers at $30 a pop and growing subconscious fear led me to this decision.)  

It needed more information to deserve the title How to Travel For Free. I was not happy with this fact. I wanted to be finished with my first book.

But rewrite I did, and slowly. And distractedly.

Finally I’ve reached what’s essentially another first draft. Whitney has expertly worked through a big-picture edit, and here I’m at another crossroads…

crossroad road sign dead end

My direction? Rewrite. Again.

Recently, I’ve been exposed to the writing thoughts of Derek. At first I thought we were simply two very different styles of writer, but his thoughts have seeped into my brain and I find my writing heading toward change. Now, I question every sentence: Can I cut that word? Can I whet my message?

He’s also led me to (among other things)the book On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction. And not a moment too soon.

William Zinsser’s masterpiece (yes, masterpiece!), is exactly what I needed. I realize now the imperative to hone the basic skill of carpentry before trying to carve flourish into the wood. The art may be in me, but the craft is keenly nascent.

It was silly to think a book I’d begun four years ago and revisited last September would be ready come summer 2017. Fine. Perhaps it needs not a complete rewrite, but at least a complete trimming.

This better understanding of process is a valuable thing to have learned, though. More valuable than just learning how to write a book. That I will learn in time, but not before I learn how to write.

This isn’t to say I’m suddenly morphing into a pro writer—I’m not—but I can sense at least one level up in a game with infinite levels to come.

Before reading On Writing Well, I was disheartened by all the editing work awaiting me. Now I feel lucky to have something on which to train these new writing muscles. 

I’m also rereading Lord of the Rings and, well,

 

I know what I must do.

 


 

What is this post about? I’m unsure. I wanted to share where I’m at in the book-writing process, but more, I want to know if you’ve been somewhere similar. So tell me.

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photocred: photopin.com

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