Because you want to write a book but don’t know how. This means you are a beginner.
That’s exactly where I was five and a half years ago. I’m still a beginner but I have learned a few things from writing ten novels, things you can learn by reading and digesting this blog.
Let’s pause a minute. I declared in my first sentence that you want to write a book. That was a little presumptuous of me. Maybe you would say, “no, I have no desire to write a book.” Although accurate statistics are hard to come by, writer Joseph Epstein says, “81 percent of Americans feel that they have a book in them — and should write it.” This of course doesn’t include you. Right?
I humbly request you humor me for a few minutes and seriously consider joining the huge percentage of Americans who want to write a book?
Thanks. Let me start with my reasons before moving on to more common, maybe universal, reasons. Succinctly put, I didn’t like the local (aka the heart of the Bible Belt) negative reaction to Obergefell v. Hodges, 576 U.S. 644 (2015), the landmark civil rights case in which the Supreme Court of the United States ruled the fundamental right to marry is guaranteed to same-sex couples by both the Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not gay nor did I have a special interest in this subject. What I held sacrosanct was individual freedom, the right to choose one’s own actions absent government and religious interference, as long as the parties do no harm. As expected, the local negative reaction followed a predictable storyline anchored in Holy Writ: same-sex relationships are sin and thus abhorrent to the Christian God.
My idea was to dispel this notion, or more accurately, to explore whether two people of the same gender can truly love each other. It didn’t take long for my imagination to create Ruthie and Ellen, two teens who, well, fell in love, My book title, God and Girl, soon followed.
No doubt there were other factors that influenced my decision to write my first novel. I can think of two: a creative writing seminar over twenty years earlier I’d attended on a Saturday while in law school; and my frustration and tiredness from years of reading craft books on writing instead of actually writing.
That’s about me, and why I wrote my first novel. Now, let’s list (not in any order) a few common (universal?) reasons I believe are worthy of your consideration.
1) To create something from nothing. Actually, it’s not nothing. But, almost. Your imagination is not nothing, but that, along with determination, and a commitment of time, will get you there. No million dollar bulldozers required.
2) To prove to yourself (or others) you can eat the entire elephant. Said another way, that you can complete a complex and difficult task.
3) To leave a legacy. You can leave money and land to your descendants but how will your great grands know it was you, alone, who created that wealth? Nothing but a book is as personal as the story inside your head, or expresses your individual accomplishments.
4) To do something that only a tiny percentage of all people have ever done.
5) To fictionally murder your worst enemy without going to jail.
Personally, I think the following are poor reasons to write a novel:
1) to become famous;
2) to get rich;
3) to get on the New York Times Bestseller list.
These are too ephemeral. You’ll likely bale if one of these is your initiating force.
“Close the door. Write with no one looking over your shoulder. Don’t try to figure out what other people want to hear from you; figure out what you have to say. It’s the one and only thing you have to offer.”Barbara Kingsolver
Now, I assume you have at least a smidgen of interest in writing your own novel. If not, you probably wouldn’t have read this far. Let me restate my initial question: “Why should I read The Pencil Driven Life blog?” The answer is simple: to go from wanting to write your first novel to holding in your hand your first novel.
I admit, it might be easier and quicker to accomplish this goal if you availed yourself of my coaching services, but that’s not required. Ashamedly, until recently, I have done it the hard way, without hiring a coach, attending a conference, or enrolling in a course. However, this doesn’t mean I haven’t learned a few things during these five and a half years. That’s what I intend to share in my blog.
Things like what writing software to use (no, I don’t write my novels in pencil!), how to choose and develop an idea, how to outline your novel even if you are a pantser (you write from the seat of your pants, without outlining), and how to structure your writing. By the way, my software choice is Scrivener.
Writing a novel takes time, a lot. And it’s difficult. However, from what I’ve learned, it is completely doable even for the beginner. The key is to break the tasks down into bite-size pieces. And take as much time as you want: a year, two years, five years. You decide; it’s your novel. Write it for yourself.
It would honor me to have you Follow my blog.
“It’s none of their business that you have to learn how to write. Let them think you were born that way.”Ernest Hemingway