Imagining a first bestseller is easy––the sales, interviews on national television, the Pulitzer Prize, the big parties and book signings…but what about actually writing the book?
For me, it takes tremendous discipline, consistency, and commitment just to get the words out, never mind creativity and at least a smidgen of talent. I knew going into my first novel that it wouldn’t be easy, as I’d had many years’ experience writing for theater and television where rewrites and late nights were the norms. Sure, screenwriting was tough work, but I loved the challenge. Hard work didn’t scare me then nor does it now.
Writing novels comes with a different set of demands than screenwriting. For one, there’s not a team of writers to collaborate with, as I write alone. The group effort and tight deadlines meant that others counted on me. But writing a book, well, I could just walk past my office for days, never write a thing, and no one would know…except me.
When there’s a problem with a specific scene and I’m stuck, the onus is on me to get out of a creative jam. At times, I will sit and work on it for hours and other times I will walk away for a little while. And the rewrites are tough. My second novel Fugue required four drafts, each one with substantial editing. Tedious work. But let me tell you, the freedom in book writing – particularly fiction – is boundless. If you want to create a one million-man army, go ahead. There’s no budget that chokes your creativity, no one saying that it won’t work in the frame or on the stage.
But all good writing, no matter how liberating, has to be edited or you may as well not do it at all. And the excitement of finishing a book is like no other creative experience I’ve encountered. After seemingly countless drafts, deep dive edits, proofreading, and a few trusted sets of eyes to review it, that manuscript is all your doing. It’s a major achievement no matter what follows, even if you don’t win the Pulitzer this time around.
Theodore Roosevelt said, “Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty…” Well, I must agree. Writing a book is painful and challenging, but boy, is it worth it.
Do you like to write?
Author of Twist of Time, Fugue, and a third novel on the way