I think the cool thing to do is to wait until you’ve finished a book, maybe even found a publisher, before announcing that it exists. At least this seems to be what I’m familiar with—someone will all of a sudden be like, here’s my big news I’ve been so excited to tell you all about! I wrote this 167,000 word novel in my spare time and if you’d like to come see me on my book tour I’ll be in Atlanta July 5th. Oh by the way I also had another child and I lost 50 pounds, now we’re all caught up!

I’m not that cool, though, so instead I’ll tell you that I have maybe started a book. Mmmaybe. I don’t know. I’ve written, like, three-quarters of a chapter. Well, assuming I know how long a chapter is, because really, I DON’T. You know what I know about writing books? Huh! Good god, y’all. Absolutely nothing.

After years of muddling around thinking about the goal of book-writing but not writing one solitary word, I finally just opened up a text document the other day and said to myself, self, you are going to start typing, and whatever comes out is IT. I’m not going to get hung up on trying to think of some creative new spin on a collection of salty parenting anecdotes, I’m not going to tell myself that I have to have the entire story figured out, I’m not going to think about what has a better chance of being marketable, I’m not going to worry if one of the characters is has a terrible name, I’m not going to spend five days mouthbreathing over a good opening line.

What I ended up with is the beginning of a story that I have no idea if I can finish. It’s not about parenting or zombies or a 35-year-old woman living in Seattle with her family, the only three subjects I figure I’m semi-qualified to write about. The main character is a teenager, which may be a horrible mistake because, uh, see also: 35-year-old woman.

(JB: “So what’s your book going to be about?”

Me: “Um, I’m not sure yet. A sort of young adult coming-of-age story, maybe.”

JB: “Like Twilight?”

Me: “…”

JB: “That’s young adult, right?”

Me: “Okay, then yes. It’s exactly the same! Yes, I think this will spiral into a massive pop culture phenomenon and I’ll write three more books and all four will be on the best-seller list at the same time and I’ll sell 22 million copies and a movie franchise in one year alone.”

JB: “Nice. But are there vampires?”

Me: “No.”

JB: “Ohhh. Well, then.”)

Writing something that’s supposed to contain an actual plot makes me feel as though I’ve gotten behind the wheel of a car I am only barely capable of driving. There are some roadside attractions I have in mind, but how do I get there? I can’t even steer this fucking thing. As for the end of the road, I can’t begin to see it. It’s covered in fog. Or locusts. Or a giant pile of jam! Who knows!

I’m worried that I’ll get a decent way into this thing and decide it’s just too awful to continue. I’m worried that only being able to work on it in little tiny stolen moments of time here and there will make for a disjointed, crappy storyline. I’m worried that it would be crappy even if I went to some special nurturing writer’s retreat in the woods where people spoke in hushed voices and we all had Silent Creative Totem Animal Time from 9-6. I’m worried that if I fail, I’ll lose that little dream that has lived inside me for so long, the part of me beneath all the self-sabotage that secretly thinks I could maybe write a book someday, and what then?

Also, I’m pretty sure my main character has a terrible name.

But anyway, it’s started. We’ll see where it goes.

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Kirsten
12 years ago

I’m pretty sure with all of your loyal followers and the many lurkers out there – it doesn’t matter WHAT you write, we will buy it. Because we heart you.

Cheri
Cheri
12 years ago

I think anything that comes from you is going to be brilliant, stop self-sabotaging and get writing! :)

penne
12 years ago

Proud for you that you’ve taken the dive. Brave, brave, brave. And you can always change the main character’s name later. You can do this.

Jessica
Jessica
12 years ago

I second the buying-ness. Also, heartily recommend Wil Wheaton’s blog about self-publishing and for how he struggles with being a writer and the doubts that can accompany that. Stepehn King’s “On Writing” is also a good read. Good luck!

Carol
Carol
12 years ago

I love it already. Good luck!

Amy
Amy
12 years ago

Your writing has “Dawg, you can sing the phonebook” appeal. I will buy your book, and it will be really well-written and kick-ass, and when friends ask to borrow my copy, I will make them buy their own so you get royalties.

Pete
Pete
12 years ago

Good luck, the first step is the hardest. Except for the step after that.

Maria
12 years ago

I’m so excited for you. I think it’s one of those “You can’t win the lotto if you don’t play” scenarios. You’ll never write a book if you don’t sit down and start typing something, anything. I think it’s better to try and fail (which I don’t for a moment believe will be your end result) then to always wonder if you could have done it. Kudos!

g~
g~
12 years ago

Even if you print out the word document and hawk it on your blog, I will buy it. As long as it isn’t too expensive…teehee!
Good luck!
g~

Zoot
Zoot
12 years ago

My son wrote an entire 160 page book last summer. I’m only telling you that in hopes someone kinda hates him for that as much as I do.

Amy M.
Amy M.
12 years ago

Sign me up for a copy! I’m sure it will be great. You can always clean it up later, just write (like I almost know what I’m talking about). As a mathematician, I have great respect to those who can put words together well. And coherently. In a story. Good luck!

Shelly
12 years ago

Is your character’s name Renesmee Carlie Cullen? No? Well then, it’s not the worst character name EVER.

Oh! And kudos to you for starting a book. That’s BIG.

Kathy
Kathy
12 years ago

Have you read Anne Lamott “Bird by Bird” – if not get your hands on a copy ASAP. Until then just take it bird by bird (one step at a time)

honeybecke
honeybecke
12 years ago

OK, sounds like you are freaking out a little bit here and I would think that’s totally normal in book writing, right? You know if this story isn’t the ONE that is meant to be then that would be OK, right? Because it would be like a practice run? Or something? I bet best selling authors have tons of partial drafts and stories they just abandoned when something better came along in their brilliant brains? Right? Maybe? Or maybe this is the one and you’ll get there and be happy with it, mouth breathing and bad character names and all. Heh.
Well, I am super excited and proud of you and of course I will buy whatever book you produce.

Dawn
12 years ago

Congratulations! And yay – that’s a very exciting prospect for those of us who like to read your stuff. Wherever this goes, or doesn’t go, it’s sure to be an experience worth having, along the way.

Anne
12 years ago

I admire that you’re trying something outside your writing comfort zone; that isn’t an easy thing to do. I’ve sat back and helped three friends edit books that they have written (two have publishing contracts, because I make up for my lack of talent by having Talented Friends), but I myself do nothing to prod the little girl inside to maybe give it a try already and *write something*.

Anyway, I wish you the best of luck. If you do make it through the end of the book I’ll happily read it, badly named main character be damned. Hell, you can always throw in a few zombies to distract from that if necessary.

Shannon
Shannon
12 years ago

Yay for you! That is awesome. Me and my girlfriends all have said in the past that you should write a book! Good luck!

Janet
Janet
12 years ago

Why don’t you write a book about a 35ish year old very talented woman who wants to write a book but can’t see the cover for the trees.

I think some of the best stuff there could ever be – is what you have already written.

Make a compilation of your blog posts and pepper in a paraphrase of some of the best responses you’ve enjoyed.

Janet – Miami fan

Kath
12 years ago

And that, exactly, is what stalls all my projects. But my photography? I’ve decided to go the whole way. I’m taking classes and last night I realized that if I’m going to really do this, I have to not only take the classes and pretend I’m studying. I have to study and do the assignments and practice. It is the actual work of it that scares me, what if I work really really hard and it comes to nothing?
Like your other commenters, I will read your book.

Emily
Emily
12 years ago

Just go. Write. See what happens. No matter what just take a page from Nike and Just Do it. “What if” and “fear” don’t actually exist any where but in your mind. We are all behind you and read you every day with bated breath. So go, do. We are right here with you.

Teralyne
12 years ago

very cool. I am here to say encourageing things and not put any preasure on you at all but I really think a book from you would be fun to read just write how you do to us and you got it made in my opinion that is.

Aunt Linda
Aunt Linda
12 years ago

I saw a blouse on ebay that was advertised as having “artsy puckers.” Since then I’ve been trying to work up a character named Artsy Puckers. Makes me laugh every fucking time I say it. AL

Kim S.
Kim S.
12 years ago

Good for you! And remember that for almost all writers, writing is painful. Awful. We all SUCK at it. We wring our hands and scowl and pace. We think nobody will read it, and if they do happen to read it they will think we are talentless hacks. All this is part of the process. And in the end your horribly named teenager’s story will be. . .wonderful.

Sarah
12 years ago

Congrats to you!! Starting is the hardest part! I have already finished my novel…so I’m on the trying to find a publisher part! You’ve taken the first step with writing a few hundred words!! Best of luck!!

Ter
Ter
12 years ago

Taking the attitude of “who cares” helped me with my novel-perpetually-in-progress. I let the characters dictate where things go, I really have no say in the matter. I never intended my main to have a love interest, and 16 chapters in, she got one. Go figure!

Danell
Danell
12 years ago

I would buy a book full of BLANK PAGES if it was YOURS…because I would owe you that much for the enjoyment I get out of reading what you write HERE.

Also, Artsy Puckers…guffaw!

Trish
Trish
12 years ago

Who cares if anyone besides your husband and parents read it?! You will have written an ENTIRE book! That is amazing in itself – what percentage of the world is truly capable of doing such a thing? Just have fun!

Eric's Mommy
12 years ago

Way to go!

You know we will all read it.

Hillary
12 years ago

Good for you … I started two books for National Novel Writing Month and finished neither. My husband finished one year. It isn’t great, but it’s a book, and it’s his.

Cara
12 years ago

Hooray! Also, that’s what edits are for. And, practice makes perfect so if it sucks you’ll learn from it and make it better next time.

JenniferB
JenniferB
12 years ago

Yea, you! Seriously — never start and never finish. Start, and maybe you’ve got a creative outlet for your life going on. And if it’s a best seller, so much the better, right?

Emily
Emily
12 years ago

I’m sure someone has already written this, but I think you’re awesome for even trying! And I have no doubts that anything you write will not be lame.

Lawyerish
12 years ago

Oh my gosh! Awesome! The act of writing, in and of itself, is an accomplishment and I’m happy to hear you’re getting on that horse or…whatever metaphor would be good here.

I actually did the exact same thing the other day, just finally kicked myself in the own ass enough to open up a damn Word document and start writing, already. (I wrote about 65 pages of a “novel” a few years back, but evidently it was going nowhere so I scrapped it and started anew). I get hung up on the SAME, uh, hang-ups and my brain nags at me with the SAME irritating, intrusive thoughts, but to hell with it.

Amanda
12 years ago

“I’m worried that if I fail, I’ll lose that little dream that has lived inside me for so long, the part of me beneath all the self-sabotage that secretly thinks I could maybe write a book someday, and what then?”

Thank you for articulating this! This is the answer to the question I’ve been asking myself of late – what are you afraid of? Somehow knowing the answer makes me a little less scared.

Good luck, I’m rooting for you.

kirida
12 years ago

Have you ever thought about going to a writer’s retreat? There are some great ones in the area like Hedgebrook (http://www.hedgebrook.org/). I know several people who have gone there.

And if you have a week or weekend to spare, there’s my favorite, the Iowa Summer Writing Festival (http://www.continuetolearn.uiowa.edu/iswfest/) My husband and I took their week-long session a couple of years ago and it was amazing. I highly recommend it.

bessie.viola
12 years ago

YAAY!! At the beginning I was hoping that you were in fact serious and you already DID have a many-figured deal settled with, oh, Harper Collins or someone – but this is lovely.

I can’t wait to read it!

beanery
beanery
12 years ago

I just started reading your blog maybe a month ago. You are a wonderful story teller and I’m rooting for you. Don’t give up! I believe you have what it takes to write an awesome story.

Valria
12 years ago

Just keep at it. It may change once the characters are developed but don’t give up. You are a great writer and have a distinct style and flair. If you keep at it, you will succeed.

It was 23 years ago I attempted to write a book, why, because I had a great character name and what I thought was a fantastic opening line. What I didn’t have was any life experience at all to support the story or give it any authenticity. I got about 3 hand written chapters done before I decided it was crap and put it away and just ignored it calling me from my stack of writing.

…..Abigail Spender sat with her fingers curled around the receiver of her phone. “I can’t believe I am doing this” she said to herself crushing out her cigarette. It was 3:30 to early for a drink. She lit her second cigarette in six months. No Answer. She got up and poured herself three fingers of Scotch, no ice and then dialed Tracy…..

Yep, still Crap!

kristin
kristin
12 years ago

You’re amazing. Good luck to you.

beanery
beanery
12 years ago

Gah! I meant awesome *book*. We’ve already established you can write a great story, now how’s about a *BOOK*?

ashley
12 years ago

Good on you! Mine is rattling around in my noggin. I’m too afraid to even open the Word doc.

lisa-marie
12 years ago

Good for you! Just write – don’t get too picky about the details because you can always go back later! Good luck to you!

Jules
Jules
12 years ago

I AM REALLY EXCITED! I’ve been wanting to read your book(s) since I started reading this blog.

That is all.

Cid
Cid
12 years ago

Too bad Nike already uses the “Just Do It” line. How about “Just Write It” for all of us closeted novel writers?
Good Luck!

Kristabella
12 years ago

Good for you! I have an idea and even have an opening line, but haven’t even typed it up. It’s in a notebook beside my bed. Because I am afraid that I’ll start and it will suck and then that dream will be squashed.

Good luck!

Shutter Bitch
12 years ago

I have faith. And not a small amount of envy. But you love to write; you’re very good at it; you are engaging; and I’ve read your short stories that you’ve put up in your oldest archives. I think you would be doing yourself a disservice NOT to try to write a book at some point. Hell, I’d buy it in a heartbeat.

Sarah
Sarah
12 years ago

This sums up EXACTLY what’s going on in my head, except I’m still at the ‘muddling around thinking about the goal of book-writing but not writing one solitary word’ stage. I think the fact that you sat down and wrote even one word is a huge step forward. If you keep writing about it here on your blog, you’ll be guilt tripped into continuing!

sooboo
sooboo
12 years ago

You listed the reasons most people don’t follow through with projects such as this. My advice, have fun with it. Don’t take it too seriously and don’t have any expectation as to what will happen to it once it’s done. Do it because you have to/want to do it, otherwise you will quit.

Lisa
Lisa
12 years ago

I would highly suggest reading Bird by Bird, by Anne Lamont. She tells how she writes, bit by bit, day by day, and it’s a great read. I read a lot and I read all kinds of genres, but you, my dear, are one of my favorites. You are salty and sweet all rolled up into one. I would buy anything you wrote the first day it’s out and would order extra copies for my friends.

jen
jen
12 years ago

Good for you! I started writing something several years ago and then deleted it because I started editing it right away and I wish I would have kept it. Then I thought, I’ll start writing it again while I was on maternity leave. I’ll pause while you compose your laughter from that one. And now, he’s one year old and I have yet to write one single sentence. Kudos to you for taking that first step.

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