I want to write a book. Who doesn’t? Most book-writers-to-be appear to have an idea of what they want to write but lack the time. Me, I got time. What I don’t got is any idea what to write.
What do I want? I want to be sitting in the audience when my Hugo-winning science fiction novel is the basis for the Best Movie Oscar, and then win the National Book Award for my non-fiction account of my book being made into a movie.
But seriously folks, I want a project. I want a world to get lost in. Sure, books offer this. But then I’m done and have to find a new one. I’ve gotten picky. I spend longer hunting for new books to read than I do reading them. I want to write characters who take over the plot, for example Temporarily Significant: Spontaneous Character Creation, Or why sometimes your characters know more than you do.
So, I’m looking for advice. From what you’ve read of me in the blog, or know of me IRL, or both, any suggestions?
TLDR – that’s the gist. Below are thoughts on different genres.
Non-fiction – Journalism. Not books or articles that involve interviews and deadlines and contracts. I know how to do that. Whether or not I would be successful at selling a book idea is a different question, but I would know where to start.
Non-fiction – memoir. Love these. Read them all the time: Bill Bryson hikes the Appalachian Trail, A Walk in the Woods; Ken Jennings won 74 Jeopardy! games, Brainiac: Adventures in the Curious, Competitive, Compulsive World of Trivia Buffs; and Stefan Fatsis played competitive Scrabble, Word Freak: Heartbreak, Triumph, Genius, and Obsession in the World of Competitive SCRABBLE Players. Unfortunately, I have not done anything newsworthy. Each of us is special in our own way, yadda, yadda. What I mean is that I have not done anything that would be an automatic marketing hook. Yes, people write books about the minutiae of daily life. However, the closer the activity is to the norm, the more the book relies on the writing. I have all the style of a window pane. I like to think of my writing as straightforward. An English professor called it pedestrian. Perhaps I could identify a quest that could be done at home, as A.J. Jacobs did when he read the encyclopedia, The Know-It-All.
Blog. Printing out the posts and driving a staple thru the corner might make a book-length piece of text, but would not constitute a book. There hasn’t been sufficient narrative arc. I could rework various events as self-contained essays and then publish the collection, but a) none come to mind and b) see above re style. I don’t see myself making an amusing tale out of loading a horse, such as The $700 Pony Goes To the Vet. Maybe I should try.
Food Blog. Greg cooks. I write. There should be something there. Greg says no. He says food blogging is all about recipes. I am not.
Research – history. Take one idea & run with it. History of Hell by Alice Turner. Color by Victoria Finlay. Possible. I’d have to find an idea that is sufficiently intriguing but hadn’t already been done.
Research – fiction. Fictionalization of an historic event. Relies heavily on characterization. Not my forte.
Fiction – horses. I don’t really read horse fiction [Horseback Reads]. They say you should write what you read. While my lettering this year is horse books [AlphaBooks 2017], most are memoir, or books I read as a kid, So far [O’Connor], the only adult fiction as been Cooper, Francis, & McKinley.
Fiction – literature. Pffffft. Next. I put down a book if the cover copy describes it as “lyrical.”
Fiction – science fiction & fantasy. It’s what I read. At least, the strand that is clever, funny, & intellectually-engaging without relying on messy emotions. Asimov over Bradbury. I love the idea of world building, either from whole cloth, e.g. Pratchett, or taking the real world as a stage for the absurd, e.g. Adams, or for the fantastic, e.g.The Chronicle of St. Mary’s by Jodi Taylor.
(Caveat. Both Pratchett and Taylor succumb to an incurable case of morality. I gave up on Discworld toward the end and on St Mary’s about halfway through. Love them till then. I understand an author wanting to expand and grow. I don’t have to like it. But I digress.)
Graphic Novel. Would. Love. This. I read more comics than books as a kid. Unfortunately, I have zero artistic talent. This is not an insurmountable obstacle. James Hatton uses dots to draw In His Likeness. Letters? Or I could work with an artist. You now what they say about collaborators? You should work with someone at least 500 miles away. Then, once you have loaded the flamethrower and guns in the trunk and plan to drive over to burn their house down and shoot them when they run out, you will have time to change your mind.
??? A compilation of spoken word poetry? A revolutionary blend of online, print, and LEGO bricks? An epistolary novel in Tweets?
Whatcha got for me? No idea too bizarre. Robo-giraffe porn might end up being the secret shame of my protagonist in that Hugo-winning novel.
Thank you for reading & commenting,
7 thoughts on “Writing Life: What Next? Advice Sought.”
All my books on horses were puzzles and/or trivia, except for the one that was quotations and proverbs. I started with the puzzles because I got tired of working word-search puzzles as they were getting too easy. Write what you want to read but isn’t out there. If you want to read it, it’s likely someone else will. Just be aware it’s a long, hard road to getting a book published, harder than it used to be if you want actual print and not just an e-book. Which I don’t, which is why my last book only exists on my computer.
I wrote my first book of puzzles entirely on a manual typewriter. That was interesting.
What Deb and Toby said — write what you want to read but can’t find. And write what you know about. I’ve been working on an equestrian-themed book on and off for the last couple of years. Although I write for work, writing fiction is completely different and I’ve had to learn A LOT! However, while it’s frustrating, it’s also very rewarding. Good luck!
I don’t feel qualified to give you advice, but i would LOVE to read another Asimov type novel series.. i LOVE the foundation novels. SO for purely selfish reasons I vote that you do that. I volunteer as tribu.. er i mean, as a early-stage reader =0)
Thank you for the encouragement. Sigh. Time to stop pondering. What I really need is to apply butt to chair. … But pondering is so much easier. I’m a genius within my own mind.
I think write a memoir. Memoirs shouldn’t be for famous people. Everyone has their own story and shockingly interesting life, famous or not. I have started mine and I think it is the best thing I could have done. Whether it sells or not (but honestly of course we all want our books to sell) you get to put your name on something. Happy Riding & Keep Smiling Mel x
True. There is a value to accomplishment. If I write & it doesn’t sell, well then, I have gained knowledge to write the next. To the keyboard!
That’s all you can do, keep on keeping on.
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