28 August 2015

I cannot not write

Books are fun to write, for me at least. Whether writing non-fiction or fiction, I love to get wrapped up in a subject and look at it from the perspective of my prospective audience. What are they looking to learn from me? What will entice them to spend their precious time with me? How can I share my knowledge and entertain a little, too. These are the kinds of questions I ask myself throughout the process. I don't want to let them down, and yet I know I cannot satisfy them all.

At first it can feel daunting. Fear of rejection and ridicule can stifle the creative soul, even if the subject matter is nonfiction.Yet, so many people write, and the number of books published is skyrocketing with self-publishing, that sometimes it's even more daunting to think of the competition than the rejection. Let's not think about that today.

Doing research is so easy these days. you can be anchored
in Ireland and exploring China at the same time. 
What I have learned is that a book will never get written if perfection is what you strive for from the start. If you put pen to paper, and keep going, you will eventually get to a place from which you can start over. When you start over is when the really hard part begins.

The first pass builds the skeleton. The second pass fills in the viscera. The third pass envelops the viscera in muscle that flexes around the story. And the final, finesse pass encapsulates it all with a smooth skin that invites attention and sensation.

Then you go back and remove all the superfluous fluff and leave behind only the poignant, skillfully edited work of genius, or so you hope. It's like getting dressed for a party. The last thing you do is remove one piece of jewelry to ensure understatement.

Editing can be exhausting work. It takes
all the concentration one can muster.
Anyway, that's the sort of journey my husband Alex and I have been on this year: Alex writing his second novel and I writing a cruising guide to the west of Ireland, then switching roles from writer to editor. It was hard to put down our own work sometimes. But we were committed to helping each other achieve our very best.

In tandem, I edited his novel, while he edited and laid out my manuscript. We both found disconnects, errors and refinements that made each other's work so much better. We've learned that our partnership goes much farther than love, and joy, and shared interests. We've discovered that our trust in each other and faith in each other's potential are more fun to experience than just about anything else in life. I am so fortunate.

We launched our respective books in the past months, then got to work on promoting them, and started on the next projects. I have my first novel in the works and my mother's memoir, my first, already underway. Alex has any number of projects awaiting, including his third novel. The journey has just begun anew. It's going to be a busy year.  I just cannot stop myself. I cannot not write.

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