Often at author events, writers are approached by folks who say, “Oh, I should write a book. I’ve got lots of great ideas!” Some writers are offended by this because it gives the impression that people think anyone can write a book. It’s a breeze. Rather than getting our backs up, I think we need to share with them the challenges that are faced by writers so that they can assess whether it’s really for them.
There are, of course, many challenges in the publishing and marketing of a book, but the process of writing a book in the first place can be the biggest challenge. Today, I would like to address one of the challenging factors in the writing of a book—Life.
Several years ago, when I had my first opportunity to meet my favorite Minnesota author William Kent Krueger and have him sign my copy of his book, I asked him, “Is it ever too late in life to start writing a book?” Being the encouraging man he is, Kent responded in the negative, and then went on to give the advice that to accomplish the goal of writing, one must look upon the process as a job. Writers need to devote time every day to their project and block out all potential interruptions.
Sometimes I have purposely brought on interruptions myself by exploring new adventures. One of these occurred this past spring when I auditioned for a part in Neil Simon’s female version of “The Odd Couple” at our active adult community in Florida. Much to my surprise, I got a part and lost three months of my life and writing time, but it was a worthwhile project that made me realize one is never too old to try something new. And our community has so many activities, like 200 clubs, it can often be an overactive adult community. For example, as well as a writers’ group, and being on stage, I am involved in two book clubs, one of which I was the organizer.
As you know, I have been trying this summer to write the sequel/prequel to my debut novel Love on the Misty Isles for you my readers because you’ve asked for it. This spring, I attended a workshop given by Kent, and came away inspired, so was able to focus on my sequel and write several chapters. Then life poked in her head. We have had a busy summer with many trips far and near for special occasions such as reunions and graduations, sad ones like funerals, and mundane ones like medical appointments. Such events are special, and one would never want to miss them. Unlike “real” jobs unless writing is your profession, it is too easy to set aside for daily interruptions besides the special ones mentioned. Once time has been taken away from the focus, it is then often difficult to get one’s mind back in line with continuing the story, even if the characters are pounding inside one’s head to get with it!
Like many famous authors, such as Krueger, I have found it beneficial to write in a coffee shop. Folks ask me if that isn’t distracting with all the people there chatting with friends. I have found that drinking a delicious Turtle Mocha at Lakes Latte near our Minnesota lake place helps me focus and write like crazy, because I am not distracted by seeing all the things at home I should be doing.
A friend and I recently attended the author event Wine and Words sponsored by the Friends of the Brainerd Library where Kent was one of the presenting authors. How thrilled we were when he joined our table of eight for the lunch part of the event. During the table discussion, I mentioned how inspired I was by his workshop and that I’d got right to work with my sequel. Then I added the current difficulty I was having getting back to it, because life seemed to interfere. Frowning at me, I got the same pointers I’d had when I first met him. I wish you lived next door, Mr. Krueger, so you would get on my case and keep me focused and inspired.
My favorite place to write in our Minnesota cabin is our three-season porch, and I hope to spend some of our last days of summer working on my sequel there among the pines. Then readers, I hope to complete the sequel/prequel I’ve been promising you on our lanai among the palms when we return to Florida.