It took me ten years to get my first book published so what do I know, huh?
I suppose I may STILL not know anything, but clearly that possibility isn't enough to shut me up.
What I want to talk to you about today is something I remember doing every time I’d start a new book.
Before I go into that...I don’t think I’m exactly normal in that every time I’d finish a book, I’d just start right in on a new one. Yes, I’d revise and yes I’d submit the finished manuscript to editors, agents and contests. But I didn’t DWELL on it. (much) I’d just cast it out into cyberspace (although when I started we didn’t call it cyberspace, we call it the mail box, but the example holds.)
So, I’d always be daydreaming what’s next. And looking forward to starting a new book. I’d see newspaper articles and just….whatever….things that would spark an idea and I’d put it in a folder for the future. So I always had a ‘what’s next’ in mind.
Here's what it boils down to: WRITE. FINISH SOMETHING. BE HOPELESS.
(I’m trying to make that into an acronym that isn't reminiscent of something profane but I’ll move on now.)
Write because whatever you learn you can never MASTER without putting it into practice.
Finish because NO PUBLISHER is going to buy an unfinished manuscript from an unpublished author, and also to prove to yourself you CAN finish a book.
Hopeless because I don’t want you to sit at your desk, hoping and praying and dying for an email that may or may not ever come. That’s a waste of time. Cast your bread upon the waters and start the next book until the waves wash soggy bread onto your ankles or you get a book contract.
HOWEVER (those capital letters aren’t meant in a yell-y way) Write and keep writing doesn’t mean you shouldn’t also be studying, learning, polishing your skills. That’s what Seekerville is for, to give you ideas for skills you could improve. That’s why you enter contests, to get a neutral pair of eyes on your manuscript.
Here’s what I’m leading up to…I just wanted to share this with you.
When I'd start a new book, I’d open up my Word document, a bright white surface upon which I was planning to explode my story and I’d lay one hand flat on that computer screen and I’d pray. I’d ask God to give me the desires of my heart and I’d ask of myself --
REMEMBER EVERYTHING YOU KNOW. Put everything you know into this book.
To explode my story.
To use strong words.
To show don’t tell.
To make my characters charming and likeable and troubled and conflicted.
To tell a great story.
Oh there's just so much to remember!!!!! YOU HAVE TO REMEMBER ALL OF IT!!!!!
REMEMBER EVERYTHING YOU KNOW.
Put it all on the page.
Pray that God will give you the desire of your heart.
Pray that God will make your words more than you are capable of creating.
And then write a book so good, so captivating, so fun, so fast, so perfect that NO EDITOR ON THE PLANET CAN SAY NO. A book so good that Love Inspired will say, “Oh, yes, we will JUST this once publish a 100,000 word women’s fiction because we are that in love with your book.”
A book so good that if a publisher just can’t quite bring themselves to publish a 150,000 word fantasy with aliens and dinosaurs and ghosts, they’ll be so excited about it they’ll phone someone who can.
A book so good that J.K Rowling will invite you to her castle for high tea and ask you for pointers.
That’s your first job, for all we talk about marketing, your most important, fundamental job is to write the best book in the world.
REMEMBER EVERYTHING YOU KNOW.
WRITE THE BEST BOOK IN THE WORLD.
AND THEN, WHEN YOU ARE FINISHED, WRITE ANOTHER ONE.
Think about what you’re working on right now. Can you see that you’re letting yourself get away with doing less than your best? Are you clinging to scenes and moments you love even though they don't tighten and advance your story? What can you change? What do you NOT love about your book? What can you do to make your book the best book in the world?
This post first appeared in Seekerville August 2, 2012. Comments are closed today so we can read and write.
After the death of his wife, prosperous businessman Chance Boden heads west along the Santa Fe Trail with his son to escape the powerful, controlling hands of his in-laws. He has plans to establish his own ranch, but instead he finds work with Frank Chastain, owner of a vast amount of land.
Chance doesn't want to work for anyone, but Frank's beautiful daughter gives him reason to delay buying his own holdings. With winter coming, no home in which to live, and Veronica's offer to care for young Cole while Chance learns the ways of successful ranching in the desert, Chance has little choice but to accept the Chastains' offer to stay on.
When Frank is attacked, his dying wish is that Chance marry his daughter, but after dealing with his in-laws, Chance isn't going to let anyone come between him and his son. Then Frank's precarious hold on the land he received as part of an old Spanish Land Grant forces Frank to make a desperate choice to save Veronica's inheritance--and also gives the men who attacked Frank reason to come after him.