Have you ever built your own house? Created your own business? Had your own baby?
Written and published your own book?
There are a lot of similarities!
- You think it will be done in no time. In fact, it drags on a lot longer than you would have imagined.
- When you have gotten a good start, you look around and say, Dang! I’m almost done! Only this and that to do, really. In fact, what you thought was your second and last revision was only your second revision. The revisions to go will first be numbered, and then they will be renamed things like “final” “last” and “the good one,” and then you will create a folder named “old versions,” where they all get dumped. Because, what if you write yourself into a corner and need to chuck it all back to last June’s revision?
- You think you can do it all by yourself. Once you have decided on the self-publishing route, it all feels like it’s in your own hands. Type it up, throw a cover together, follow step-by-step instructions to make a Kindle book, hit publish and Ta Da! You are an author. But…
- You have no idea. You will need a lot of people. Unless you are a technical genius, the one person you do not want to make mad is the one who is telling you what programs to load, building your website, going over how to use Scrivener (again) with great (apparent) patience, and getting your trim size and cover to all come together. You need beta readers. It was scary throwing it out to other people to read for the first time. But I was glad I took that step for my next (almost final now!) revision. My monthly Writers Forum Club meetings gave me ideas and contacts. Friends and family encouraged me (or at least humored me). And because I’m self-published, it will take a ton of people helping to share the news about my book and to post reviews, helping ultimately to make this a success.
- You think your own house/business/baby/book is the best one there is. No, seriously. It is, right?
Writing a novel started as a challenge to myself. Actually, it began further back, as a co-challenge between Mel Newton and myself. “Write an eBook and Make Money Forever,” or at least that is how I remember the title of the book from the podcast “By the Book.” (Or is it “Buy” the Book?”) Two women, Jolenta and Kristen work through different self-help books for two weeks, living by them, and then reporting on the results. For the “Write an eBook…” episode, they worked up a book apiece and then self-published. One was an Amish romance, the other a comparison of the various Greek Gods to the Desperate Housewives. Mel and I both had the same thought. We could totally do this!
We both came up with topics we already knew how to do, thought up pen names, downloaded Scrivener (an excellent program for writers) and gave ourselves thirty days to finish our books. We both squeaked in under the deadline with our manuscripts. (If you are curious about the results, Google Orvetta Black, Dinah Roberts, and Bar Napkin Guides.) At that point I felt thoroughly qualified to begin my next project, my true goal—writing a middle-grade novel!
I have tried to throw together 50,000 word novels in the past, every November, in fact. When the season turns to fall, Halloween is almost over and you can start tearing down the candy corn lights and plan your Christmas decorations, NaNoWriMo shows up on November 1st. National Novel Writers Month. You join up and get 30 days to pound out your 50k novel. It doesn’t have to be worthy, it just has to get written. Words on pages. I usually get about a week and a half in before I lose ground, fall behind and know I’ll never get it done by the 30th. Then I stash what I started in a pathetic file named “NaNoWriMo Starts” and wait until next November.
Back to my goal. My first goal was to see if I could just start and finish a novel. No standards. Just come up with some characters, give them a job, take them through it, throw a few conflicts in, and wind it up with a conclusion. Don’t waste a good idea on it, because this would just be my practice novel. Once I proved to myself I could do that, then I would do the “real one.”
But now I have my new saying. Lifted from my technical person, who is also writing a (collaborative) novel.
“I suck at crappy writing.”
Yes, if I were good at crappy writing, I’d have been done a long time ago and happily pounding out my fourth (crappy) novel. But once I own a piece of writing, it becomes personal. I see how it could be better. When someone suggests a way to give more interest, I don’t say, “Nope! It’s just a crappy novel to prove something to myself.” I gotta do the work. I become fond of my characters. Finally, I begin to realize it’s not just a throw-away crappy novel, but pretty nice, and someone else might really enjoy reading it. So I decided put it out there and hope people like it.
That is where I am with “Valeria & the Enemy of Time.” It’s done now, and will be live on Amazon in a day or two, both as eBook and print version. Here is my website so you can get a look at the book. www.CarolynRRoberts.com. Not all the buttons may be active yet, but they will be soon. I am putting an excerpt up, so be sure to check that out.