I stumbled across an absolutely awful article the other day. The author, a literary agent and writer, comes across a lot of people who’ve been told they should write a book. “No, you shouldn’t,” she writes.
Ack! Many would-be authors get a diss before they even pick up a pen.
Oh, yes you should—or could is a better word—if that’s what you’re called to do. When has the world said it doesn’t need another great story?
Sure, it might not be a runaway bestseller, but that’s not always the point. Sure, it might not get the hours and hours of editing or brilliant cover design, but that’s not always the point either. The process of writing a book does something to us and often to the reader, even if the readership is an audience of one. That’s the point.
Living in your town is one thing. Writing about your town is an entirely different thing altogether. Writing about something, anything, puts the writer in the position of observer—from higher places than might otherwise be experienced.
One of the most important elements of writing is loving and having empathy for each and every one of the characters, even that dastardly villain or two. Writing the story with the villain’s point of view in mind doesn’t let him or her off the karmic hook, but it does make each one of us more understanding, perhaps more compassionate, and hence, a better person.
Some people can make a walk to the corner store an epic adventure: The myriad greens of the lawns and shrubs. The sounds of laughter, lawn mowers, insects, dogs barking, and a motorcycle in the distance. The different colors, shapes, and sizes of the mailboxes. And—oh! What about when you get to the store? The people, the sights, the sounds, the smells….
Right now I’m writing about a starbeing who comes to Earth and takes on a human body. Describing putting on a plush bathrobe, taking a bath, making love, even taking that very first sip of water as someone brand new in a human body is giving me an enormous appreciation for this life, this body, the sunset, even a glass of water…just about everything, really.
Other people might have a hard time writing about the epic lives they’ve lived. All the adventures, misfortunes, triumphs, challenges, heartbreaks and heartsongs maybe just don’t translate well to the page for them. So they don’t have to write. They can just be epic and convey their stories through rock climbing, embroidery, being on the PTA, whatever.
Thank Heavens for Amazon. People can write a book and then be a published author with the click of a mouse. Maybe just two people will buy it, but as I said above, that’s not the point. The point is the healing clarity and resolution that comes from writing a book. Amazon’s big enough to handle scads and scads of people doing this.
I helped a dear friend of a dear friend in the publishing of her memoir on Amazon. She’s almost number 12 million of the 12 million books on Amazon. (Wow—there are that many books on Amazon already?) She is not on social media, which is one of the most important ways to sell books these days. But she’s as happy as a lark. She’s bought a few boxes of books and has sold them in her community and church to people who love her and love her book.
Back to that writer/literary agent, in her defense, she probably receives bunches of books that aren’t written or edited well. And they don’t have to be passed on to a publisher. But the authors do, perhaps, need to write them.
I was told a long time ago, “You’re not a singer.” This was from an opera major, so I do understand where she was coming from. But I can sing—pretty well, as a matter of fact. I’ll never be a headliner, but my husband and parrot love my singing and I love doing it. That’s the point.
You came to fulfill a promise. Tell us about your journey to do that.