Have you ever considered writing a book? I have. A memoir, a children’s book, short stories, etc. I have no “formal training” in writing, however, and find the task quite overwhelming. Perhaps published authors feel the same way at times despite their training and/or success. Over the past year, I have toyed with the idea of writing a book, but have not been able to adequately put down on paper what I really want to say, something that captivates the reader and leaves her wanting more. Sadly, each draft has ended up in the trash.
This afternoon, I was led to an interesting article on writing tips, “Zadie Smith’s 10 Rules of Writing,” re-published at brain pickings (originally published at The Guardian in February 2010). Zadie Smith is a British novelist, essayist and short story writer. As of 2012, she has published four novels, all of which have received substantial critical praise. In 2003, she was included on Granta’s list of 20 best young authors, and her books have been reviewed on NPR a number of times. I have not read any of Smith’s works, but her writing tips really resonated with me. One particular tip caught my attention:
“Resign yourself to the lifelong sadness that comes from never being satisfied.”
Isn’t that the truth? When I began writing, it seemed impossible to get past the darn prologue, granted I’m a novice. There are so many things to consider, e.g., at what point in time to begin the story and how to order events, research needed to make the story legitimate, adding dialogue, making the narrative interesting, etc., etc. I know they say to just write and don’t edit, but nothing sounded good enough no matter what I wrote. Finally, I put the task of writing a book aside for another time when greater inspiration strikes. But, will that moment ever really come or does one just have to sit down, grit her teeth and bear it? Oh, and one other thing. I think it’s probably pretty important to have support when writing a book. Someone, or some others in your life who believe in you and cheer you on along the way. Who help pick you up when you stop believing in yourself and your writing project. Without the support of others, it would seem rather difficult to accomplish writing an entire book.
Here’s one last thought on writing from author, Kurt Vonnegut,
“Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.”
If for any reason at all to write a book, it would be great to write a memoir for my daughter as part of our family history– something I hope she’d appreciate when she’s older (Lord knows kids don’t care about family history when they’re 15-years old). Focusing on pleasing just one person alleviates some of the pressure of aiming to please a much wider audience. At least that’s how I see it. Now if I could only get started…
For those interested in the writing process, see other authors’ personal writing do’s and don’ts here.