As an author, producing a novel was a lot like birthing an actual baby. It was something that I’d thought about for a while, and I could feel it bubbling inside my gut, but I wasn’t sure if I could actually do it.
I just didn’t know if I could...push it out. But once I started writing it, once it became real to me, there was no turning back. The baby, my book, was going to be born and I needed to accept it.
Writing a book is hard. There are some lonely moments, times when you realize that no one is going to write the book for you. And it exposes your insecurities: when it comes out, will everyone love it as much as I do? Will it go out into the world and do great things? Will it be safe from pirating and bad reviews?
I’m telling you, I’ve birthed babies before. The publishing process is just like that!
As you move through the process, you realize that there’s so much that you don’t know! You have to study. Unless you’re writing your personal memoir, you can’t just sit down and start slinging words everywhere. Even if you can see the entire story play out in your mind’s eye like a movie, you still have to study. You have to get the details right. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a great story that just doesn’t feel plausible.
Finding a flaw in a story is like finding a hair on your plate in your favorite restaurant— it ruins the entire experience.
I didn’t know this, of course, as a first-time author. I just sat down, poured my heart into my little rough draft, and Priority-mailed it to my mom. I knew she’d think my writing was better than Terry McMillan and give me the confidence to take this thing worldwide.
Naïveté and arrogance. If those two characteristics had a baby, they’d name it Humility.
Mom said, “It’s good. I like it. But you need to do some research. You need to go in-depth. If someone reads this and they know anything about—let’s say, hospital sterilization, then they’ll know if this story makes sense or not. Look at Stephen King and Jodi Picoult. When you read their books, you can tell they’ve done their research.”
Here I was, like an expectant mother, wanting the finished product to just pop out without putting in all of the work. But she was right, you know. She’s Mommy.
I started from page one and I did my research. OMG, I Googled everything! When I get to heaven, I pray that I’m not judged by my search history.
Anyway, I got familiar with the inner workings of a central sterilization unit, the divorce laws in the state of Georgia, the drugs that are used for sedation, and the pitfalls of our country’s Medicare system.
But, when my characters got serious about the book club thing, I needed more than Google. I needed to read the books along with my characters.
That’s a lie. There was one problem: these aren’t books that I’d typically read for pleasure. Plus, I was busy trying to get my own book finished. Interestingly, my characters weren’t reading these books for pleasure, either. And they were busy doing other things, too. But they were reading to save their own lives. So I thought, what the heck, I want to save my own life, too.
I read the books. All of them. And then I imagined how they would be discussed in a book club. This was great for the completion of my book, but it did something for me personally as well.
It forced me to look at myself differently, to re-evaluate my goals, to change my inner dialogue, and really work in focusing my intentions. But there was another benefit: I saved some freaking money!! I followed the advice in one of the books and tried making one simple change in my spending habits— and I managed to start saving consistently, one coin at a time.
- Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
- The Richest Man in Babylon by George S. Clason
- Your Money or Your Life by Vicki Robin
- The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
- Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
You can thank me later 😉.