The challenge for me has never been about starting a book— I’ve started dozens of them—the challenge for me has always been about finishing them. Maybe I should write Series books … at least I could take my time figuring out how to call it all a wrap while still selling pieces and parts along the way. In the meantime, however, I gaze in a stupor at the boxes of unfinished book projects that line the closet shelves and wonder what held me back for so long.
Mine is not the only closet that holds such precious gems. I’ve know many writers whose talents have been withheld from the world for far too many years. Great writers with so much to say and the fluency with which to say it deprive us of their treasures for lack of one of three things – a place to start, the time to devote to development of content, or where and how to conclude. That’s why fairy tales of yore were so prolific—one could start anywhere and end anywhere and, as long as there was a pointed object and some sort of ink or dye available (anything from crushed strawberries to squid ink) with a candle or fire in the hearth to see by, they could nest into a corner and let their imaginations run wild.
Ah, you say, but then it should be even easier today! Nay, I say, for the passions of Middle Ages yore were of morals, romance, and survival. Food at that time was scarce for those not of royalty. Shelter and clothing were crude at best, and healthcare was abominable. Some of us might note that these conditions still prevail in places today. Some of us might also note that social and economic deterioration along with little setbacks like the Bubonic Plague and religious wars kept the majority of those of that era illiterate for lack of education as well. Yet some of the greatest writers of that era prevailed.
Today we continue to see some amazing authors weave masterpieces in their profession. Fairy tales have given way for some fabulous young adult fiction. The timeless fairy tale of yore that appealed to young and old alike, however, has much gone to the wayside. The threading of propaganda into art and literature, whether moral lessons or pure political rhetoric, has remained intact.
The computer world of the internet has brought some of the best and worst to the podium of the keyboard—quill be damned and, occasionally, literacy with it. One thing that stands out as the biggest difference between those of but moderate means in the past and in the present, is the almost criminal dishonorable discharge of imagination in today’s era. How can we begin without the essential ingredient for all writing, from textbook to novel—”imagination”?
I’m referring to the imagination one accesses on a hike in the woods, a swim in the sea, a night on the beach under a starlit sky, a first kiss, a last kiss, and a few kisses in between. For all the gifts technology has given us, it has also flooded our homes and minds with computer games and television and cell phones and tech, tech, and more tech. It’s almost as if we are moving in a direction where our imaginations are being programmed for us, which, by the way, completely defeats the purpose of having an imagination in the first place. I suppose the upside of all this technology might be to scan those old, dusty, unfinished books onto flash drives to make room for more clothes in my closet.
Which brings me to why I started this post in the first place, before I went off on a rant that could be debated into infinity anyway. Yes! There are some admirable authors of all genres in this new techy millennium! And, as a side note, I happen to be a huge fan of many young adult fiction authors, the majority of whose works are delivered to my bedside table at regular intervals by my grand, avid reader spiritson. That being said, and with my own unfinished books continuing to yellow with age in the closet, I press on …
I never had a problem writing “shorties” for newspapers and magazines—a plus for my blogging future, I suppose. Yet, I seemed to lack the patience and imagination to dive into what seemed no smaller than the vast Pacific ocean … the writing of a real book. Until, one day it happened. Purely by accident, it seemed at first. I started to write a letter. A letter on a subject I was passionate about, excited about, and knowledgeable about. I felt confident I could convey my thoughts on paper with pen (ink included). The words literally poured from my heart and I gave my imagination permission to complect them into shape and size and color and beauty. The letter was meant to be mailed to the intended recipient that week. One year later, I came to the realization that I could go on writing about the subject forever. That the letter in question would never be of any consequence to anyone if I didn’t make a decision to stop writing it at some point. So, in that moment I placed a final “period” at the end of the last sentence I had written, and signed off.
And THAT is what it takes to write a book –
- Passion for a subject
- Knowledge of that subject (do your research even for writing fiction)
- Imagination to weave the subject into an interesting design
- A final punctuation mark
THE END … (to be continued, LOL, in my future blog post – “What’s next? The Top Five Perks of Self-Publishing”)
For a more comprehensive look at how to improve and refine your writing skills and technique, please visit my Classes page and join me for my Writing Basics webinar. I also offer Saturday morning online group writing sessions.
© Jennifer Sweete, March 2016