What They Don’t Tell You
What they don’t tell you about writing a book is the high level of frustration you will reach in a very short amount of time.
Every morning I would get up, turn on my computer, and stare at a blank screen. The clock would keep ticking away and the screen would stay blank. Then I would start randomly hitting keys as fast as I could just so I wouldn’t continue to see a blank screen. Then delete, delete, delete.
My next step would be to start typing random cliché beginnings to see if one might spark an idea. “It was a dark and stormy night…” “In the beginning…” “She heard a noise in the basement…” Then delete, delete, delete.
So I would get another diet Coke. Clean the microwave. Wipe down the kitchen counters. Anything to delay the inevitable. Head back to my office. Blank screen.
Next was trying a writing exercise from one of my writing classes. Write an idea in the middle of the page. Circle it. Draw lines out from it. Write names of characters. Draw lines out from them. Write brief scenarios for each. Draw lines out from them. Write a connection between them. Crumple the paper and start again.
Time to try another approach. Index cards. Start by writing ideas and put those in the idea pile. Write scenarios and put them in the scenario pile. Write beginnings and put them in the beginnings pile. Same for endings. Same for middles. Put them on a story board and rearrange until you have an outline for a story. Nothing seems to go together. Leave it for a day.
Next day the board still doesn’t yield a story. Take those cards down and start again.
Hey, I might have something. Get it down on the computer. No more blank screen. Type, type, type. Read, read, read. Delete, delete,delete. Type, read, delete. At the end of the day I have one short paragraph. This process goes on for months.
Finally I have the first chapter done. I have typed, read, deleted, and rewritten so many times I have lost count. My husband asks to read it. I hesitate. His reading of the first chapter makes it all real. Am I really writing a book?
Why do I think I can write a book? Why do I think anyone will want to read my book? Why do I think I can finish writing a book? Why do I think someone will want to publish my book? Why? Why? Why? Just because I want something doesn’t make it so. Look how long it has taken me to write the first chapter, fifty painstaking pages. It has been three months. At this rate I will be dead before I finish writing the book, if I finish writing the book.
So I let him read it. He likes it. He likes it? Likes it? What does that even mean? So I press for more information. Did you feel anything? Did you connect with the characters? Is it intriguing? Do you want to know what happens next? “Sure,” he says. And with that lackadaisical response I think maybe I should start over. If my husband isn’t jumping up and down and hollering for more, what will the general public think of it?
But somehow I resist the urge to start over and instead I start the second chapter.
What they don’t tell you about writing a book is the warm fuzzy you begin to feel when the finished chapters start to pile up.
Granted, it’s been almost eight months, but I now have seven chapters done and am now working on an ending. I now know that I can do this. I can write a book. I will finish writing a book. And with that warm fuzzy I finally begin to realize that if no one wants to read it, if no wants to publish it, it’s okay. I will have done it for myself. And that’s all that matters.
About the Author
Donna Hermann, a student at Rio Salado Community College, is working towards her Academic Creative Writing Certificate. She has been writing for two years and this is her first published piece. She lives in Cave Creek, Arizona with her husband, two children, and three cats.