I have been attempting to write a novel for almost eight years. I will go at it furiously for awhile, get worn out, and not touch it again for months. I was inspired to write a book by my two sons, who are profoundly autistic. My youngest son, who is my main character, is still ten years old in my story, but in reality is about to turn eighteen next month.
I think writing a book is like marketing, coaching, and politics. It is an occupation that most people think they can do, but find out how truly difficult it is once they actually get an opportunity. For me the time I have spent on my novel has been therapeutic, traumatic, exhilarating, and fatiguing.
I finally got to the point where I had what I felt was a complete story. But I was riddled with doubts. Was my book long enough ( the entire story takes place over a twenty-four hour period)? Were my characters developed enough? Was the story plausible enough for the audience to accept it as reality? Did the story flow well enough to hold my readers attention?
With those points in mind I sought professional help. With the guidance of a college friend I was able to contract with an editor who read my book and basically gave me the unvarnished truth. I learned I needed to work on my paragraphing to make the formatting better. My style was deemed to be good but I needed to make my character’s speech more natural. The flow was good but I tended to introduce too many points of view from too many characters at the same time, which I was told could frustrate my readers. I was cautioned to be aware of repetitious words and my punctuation needed to be cleaned up.
I obviously had a lot of work to do but all of this was technical stuff that I could correct. What I really wanted to know was if I had a good story, one that would grab readers attention?
At the end of the assessment I was told that I had created an interesting and ethically challenging concept but it was one that the editor could imagine actually happening. My editor said it made for a great story and that I definitely should go forward with it.
After reading that I instantly imagined myself at book signings, giving interviews regarding my perch atop the New York times best sellers list, and my negotiations with Hollywood over the movie rights. But after six hours of working on my re-writes today, with much more work to go, I realize that authors work hard, real hard. While some authors churn out book after book I will be happy if I am able to complete this one. One thing I have not fantasized about is the sequel to my book, and I don’t think I see that happening anytime soon. After all, I don’t think my publisher would give me eight years to produce the second installment.