Writing a book is hard.
I thought years of experience in writing reports, documentation and training materials made me a talented writer. It didn’t.
My first lesson was “Show, don’t tell.” That’s the cardinal rule for fiction writers. Readers don’t like, “This happened, then that happened, and I felt ________.” Turns out they prefer scenes, with dialogue and descriptions. Who knew? Not me.
My second lesson was in grammar and punctuation. My lessons on simple past tense versus past perfect tense and proper use of conjunctions were in the distant past. Past perfect, actually. I finally got clear on it when I wrote this sentence, “I’d never changed diapers on my own children, but I wiped one grandson’s dirty bum and changed a shitty diaper on the other.” Past perfect, “I’d never changed” and simple past, “I wiped”. I’m sure there was a time I learned that, but I’d forgotten…
Conjunction lessons drove my use of commas. I’ve inserted and deleted more commas than I care to admit. Shout out to Kelly Kaur, a Mount Royal University professor, who shared her teaching tricks with me to get me on the right path. That’s Kelly and I reviewing the manuscript at the Calgary Stampede in the photo above. The book has invaded all areas of my life.
I’ve now uploaded my manuscript to Kindle Direct Publishing thirty times. I’m sure when my author’s proofs of the paperback arrive next week, there will be one or two more.
Over twenty-five years and thousands of classes at horse shows, I learned there are no perfect performances. There is always something that could be done better. My speaking experiences with Toastmasters also demonstrated this principle. As I wrote in the book, “Excellence is enough; demanding perfection halts progress.”
This book will never be perfect. I accept that. My ongoing conundrum is when it will be good enough to hit “publish.” I’m almost there. I’ve been “almost there” for seven weeks now. What’s the holdup?
I have shared details in this novel that are highly personal. Although it is a fictionalized account, there are enough truths in it to leave me feeling exposed. It’s taken some time to accept that the only ones who knows for sure what I made up is me and the people that shared the experiences. And even they probably have a different take on the events.
I’m clear on my reasons for writing this novel. I’m not the only woman who has been embarrassed to admit that I should have known better. This book is not always an enjoyable read. Some sections were hard to write, and I suspect may push some buttons for my readers. My hope is that my readers come away with awareness and compassion for themselves when they are heading in a direction that isn’t healthy for them.
Do you have something that’s been “almost ready” for a long time? How will you determine when it’s close enough to excellent to hit publish? I hope to be there very soon.