Learning how to write!
I think everyone probably has one good book in them, they’re just not confident, curious, patient enough to let it out. Well, maybe that’s not true, but it was in my case.
A couple of years ago, I picked up a handful of pages I had from years past that were printed on fading white paper with thoughts captured on an old Princess typewriter. When my career took my family to Fort Wayne, Indiana, and after I put my too young ones to bed, I began crashing out thoughts about my third child who had died from heart disease four years earlier.
I was never a good writer. In fact, I had never really written anything of any importance prior to then. I wanted to keep some personal memories in a place where I could spend time later remembering on of the strangest passages in my life. After a couple of evenings, I had about 50 pages of scattered accounts about a time I was still trying to understand and piece together. I decided I was never going to do anything more with these thoughts, so I put them in a box and shoved them in the top of our spare room closet.
Thirty years later, after retiring, I found that old box, opened it and found those fifty pages and began finishing Lindsay’s story. I quickly realized I needed some help in getting my story told. So, I joined a Writer’s Workshop close by in our county’s senior center.
Having no idea how to write a story and not sure how this group could help me, I forged through and began meeting every Wednesday morning. I formed new friendships with other folks who enjoyed writing and reading. Boy, did I learn much from these folks, several of whom were retired teachers – a big help!
I also read some books on the best ways to write and finish a book. There were things like verb tense within a chapter, proper use of punctuation, dangling participles, the correct way to write numbers and dates. One of the most important parts of our language is when to use “Who” and “That”. Sentences where the noun is a person, use “Who”. When the subject is a thing, use “That”. Also, the best ways to use better and complete sentences:
“I called the only person
that who could help me learn how to write good well.”
After reading my story, we all spent time critiquing my writing one chapter at a time. It was fun to learn how to correctly us the English language and write a better story.
One place I was surprised to find writing tips was a book by Stephen King of all people. The biggest tip he had was, finish your book, walk away for a couple of weeks, come back, read it again, and then take out 20%! You do not need those words, sentences, chapters, that add nothing to the story. I call it the “Department of Redundancy Department”
All that time, help, critique, rewriting, spell and grammar check, taking out all the parts that really added nothing to the story, I finished my story and began the process of Self-Publishing a book…something I knew nothing about, and there was way much to learn.
There are two ways to take a manuscript and turn into a published book: the traditional route of giving it to a publishing company and wait and see what they come up with, or the “Do It Yourself” method. Since I did not have thousands of dollars to spend on something I knew nothing about, I went the Do It Yourself way.
There was much to learn:
- eBook vs Print Version or both
- Copyright Rules and Protection
- How to embed text for printing
- Designing a front and back cover
- Permission for using someone else’s property, like song titles
- Revenue sharing of royalties
- Producing an Audio Book Version
- Marketing: Learn how to utilize…
Social Media, Facebook, Amazon, Libraries, Book Stores, Instagram, Google Key Words and Categories, Website hosting and building, Blogging, Drop Caps, Stretching Text, Mirror Pages, Indenting, Freelance providers (editing, cover design, narrator for audio book), Author Profile, Book Backstory, Print on Demand, Utilizing Pinterest.
Well, after a couple years and about a hundred rewrites, I finally have a book on my coffee table, in the hands of family and friends, available on every eBook store, print version on Amazon, and Barnes & Noble, and soon…an Audio Book on Amazon and iTunes.
“A Gift…Only Borrowed” is the result of several years of writing an especially important story that needed to be told and saved for all time…my family’s journey trying to navigate the death of one of my children.