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Monday, February 11, 2013
As writers, we all experience the "so you're a writer...I have an idea" thing. Of course, there are dozens of variations on it. You don't need me to repeat all that I've personally experienced. You've heard it all, and then some. The thing is, we tend to get a little irate at hearing the same comments again and again. It ranges from "What a cushy job" to "Maybe you could write it for me." I get asked about publishers a lot. Yet very few aspiring authors ever ask me how to write a book.
I'm thinking about this today because my oldest daughter's boyfriend decided to write a book. He picked my brains a little, I muttered under my breath in slight annoyance, and then guess what?
He wrote a book. An honest-to-goodness novel.
Sometimes when I talk to people who throw out the "Maybe I should try it" thing I get irate, annoyed..whatever... We all feel that way. Our time is precious, no one understands how hard it is...yada yada. Yet there's always a voice at the back of my mind reminding me that a few years back, I was the person thinking, "I should try it." And I did. There were a few people in my corner during the process, most particularly Beth Kery, Fiona Jayde and Lacey Savage. This was all online because there's a dearth of writers in my neck of the woods. I pretty much did it on my own, and made some outstanding mistakes along the way. But I did it. I can still remember a "real writer" snorting at me and saying, "every English major wants to be a writer."
Well, yeah. But that contempt stung and I let it slow me down by years.
So this young man wrote a book. My daughter is trying to beta read it for him, and is having a hard time turning off her critical eye. Its about surfing and Los Angeles and traveling the world. Its about coming of age and tragedy and joy. He just wants a critique, not an edit, so for the first time, I offered to take a look at someone's first, unpublished manuscript. I doubt that its awful, and I hope its brilliant.
So my Sunday/Monday message is a reminder to pay it forward, particularly if you're a writer. If you can take what you know and help someone who is just beginning, go for it. Who knows what nugget of brilliance might be there in the mind of someone who just needs a little encouragement. When you hear the same "I oughta be a writer" comments, smile and give them a few moments of your time. It won't hurt, and who knows...you may be fostering greatness.