I can’t find the reference right now, but someone, somewhere wrote–and I quoted it quite recently: “You don’t learn how to write a book. You just learn how to write the book you are writing.”
I wish I could remember who said it, and if I am getting the words exactly right, but you get the idea. I’m into chapter three (actually chapter 4 if you count prologues, but that’s another issue) of The Key of Solomon, and I have news for you. Twenty-two books and you would think I would figure this whole process out. But it doesn’t get any easier. Nope.
I could, after all, take the easy way out and just write a simple story with two characters and a simple plot: boy and girl fall in love, they get married, one of them gets cancer and dies. End of story. But that’s been done. And unless you spend the time working the story, massaging the characterization, working the dialogue and action, your story falls into the crack between the hundreds of thousands of other wanna-bes that are out there being published ever year that may or may not be read.
Because here’s the reality of it all: Writing is pretty easy. Writing well is very, very hard. And if you are serious about your craft, you up the standard every time you take up the pen, pull out the keyboard or start dictating. And each time you do it, you are learning something new.
I’m being reminded of that this week (and last week) as I am pounding out what is a very rough first draft of my new book. I wish that I could say that it is in its final form, but that would do it a major disservice and would be a waste of my and your time. And so once I get it into some semblance of shape, I will edit it, send it to beta readers, send it to someone else to edit, and maybe, just maybe it will turn into a good story.
That’s after 40 years of writing and editing. So you’ve written a book? Good for you. Now make it into a great one.
Time to get to work.