Saturday, July 6, 2013

Fun Times Writing a Book

Sometimes when I am doing a school visit the question will come up: how exactly do you write a book? People have these images of what a writer is and what a writer does.

An inspiring idea plops into his head and he simply takes dictation:

She stares into space (until the idea plops into her head):

She crumples up a lot of paper:

He may go a little crazy:

But overall, it's a cool job and the results are worth the work:

The truth is much more angsty and boring and hard to explain. Usually, I make a joke about how I put my butt in the chair every day and write.

But the next time someone asks me, I think I might go into specifics, using yesterday's writing day as an example:

I wake up at 7 a.m. and put my butt in the chair and power up my computer. I take my butt out of the chair and make the first of many cups of coffee. I read emails. I start my endless loopy scroll through social media. What's going on with my friends on Facebook? Twitter? Tumblr? Not much, really.

I open my writing file and read a few lines of what I wrote the day before. Turns out that what I thought was brilliant and funny and moving sorta sucks.

I check Twitter again and eavesdrop on a strangely fascinating conversation between librarians.

I go back into my manuscript and play around with some of the sucky sections. It still sucks, but not as much.

I check on the librarians again. I take a look at Facebook. I fight the urge to see if anyone has rated my book on Goodreads. I lose that fight and check. Yup. It's a meh review and I feel like crud for three minutes.

I go back into my manuscript. What I just did to fix things doesn't really fix things. I have a giant plot hole that I never even noticed until this moment. I add a sentence. I take away a sentence. I delete a paragraph. I add a paragraph.

My dog jumps on me. I take her for a walk. While on the walk the solution to my plothole pops into my head. Aha! Woo Hoo! I scoop up my dog's poop and ruminate over this.

I get home. I make another cup of coffee. I loop through social media again. Nothing's really happening out there, but I check once more just to be sure. Nope. Nothing.

I read the Yahoo headlines and the comments and feel despair about the fate of our country and humanity. Maybe I will write a dystopian novel. Or maybe I will express my outrage by sharing a bitingly satirical picture on Facebook.

I brush my teeth.

Somebody commented on my Facebook post. I click on her page and look at the pictures from her latest vacation.

I open up my manuscript and try the solution that came to me whilst I was walking my dog. It doesn't work. What the hell was I thinking? I flip around two sentences. I flip around two paragraphs. I delete everything I've done this morning. I eat lunch.

I check my emails. I go back into my manuscript and write half a page. I take my dog for a walk. I write another half a page. I wash my face. I make an ice coffee. I click on Goodreads. I pop into Twitter to see what the librarians are up to. Someone else commented on the Facebook share. I look at his vacation pictures. His kids are adorable.

I write three pages.

My husband comes home from work. Weirdly, it is 6:00. "Just give me like, thirty more minutes," I tell him. Awesome guy that he is, he makes dinner. We eat it. I write for another hour.

I vow to get started earlier tomorrow.

I wake at 7 a.m.


  1. WOW, this sounds like me, except I have two kids running around, a ferret pooping in the corners, a bird systematically destroying my house, and my poor dog never gets to go on walks.

    1. Sometimes I am amazed that books are written.

  2. Sounds so much like me right now, only I'm in the first draft and I'm doing my best to keep going even though I want to scream and beat my head against a wall. I've heard it helps, though it probably destroys a few brain cells in the process. Oh, well.