People have asked me “how did you write a book” or “what was your process” or “when did you decide to become a writer?” First, I’m not even sure I am a writer, except that a week ago, I attended the three-day Erma Bombeck Writing Workshop, virtually of course. It was my third trip to the conference, and yes, Erma confirmed I am a writer, in a twisted, paranormal telepathic whisper.
Writing is not a simple process for me, nor anyone, I imagine. My style is best described in the following cycles.
Ideas blossom. I am witty, charming, and sometimes, laugh-out-loud funny. My cats and dog smile when I tell a joke.
I find humor everywhere I look. I write a couple of essays, just for fun. This is easy. I begin imagining myself a newspaper columnist.
I snag a 12th grade English Grammar and Composition textbook, last checked out in 1982. It takes me back to Creative Writing with Mrs. Larson. I review (and quickly forget) participles, gerunds and modifiers.
I publish a handful of essays in a small, local newspaper. I’m on a roll! I can do this! I’m going to become a writer! Nothing can stop me!
I begin the journey by attending an eight-week creative writing class, and quickly learn to drop the exclamation points, and adjectives like quickly. This is followed by (what feels like) 500 workshops and conferences. People have glossy business cards with professional head shots. Intimidation comes easily. The more I learn, the less I write. What was I thinking?
One workshop site site is hosting a conference for psychotherapists at the same time. The irony is not lost on me. I try to sit in on some sessions.
I am in so over my head. My writing isn’t funny or even interesting. Why did I think I could do this? I’m going to focus on quilting. Maybe I should take up painting, golf, or fitness classes like my friends.
Too much time and money has been spent on my attempts at writing. I’ve told too many people. I can’t give up. Pride is on the line.
I start a blog and receive lots of virtual high-5’s. I get the idea to write a book. It’s a personal challenge. Can I do it? Where do I start?
I whip out the first draft of my book and send it to eight beta-readers. I am immediately dismayed by how poorly written and executed the story is. I am embarrassed and want to cry. I crawl under a quilt and don’t look at it for eleven months. Instead, I read.
Cycle 2 has a vice-grip on my confidence. I finally invest, rewrite, polish the book and send it to another group of readers.
Five years after I started, Carrie’s Quest, my first novel can be purchased through Amazon or your favorite bookstore. It receives great reviews and people ask about a sequel.
The positive feedback to my writing propels me when I realize I am similar to *Bierka, who becomes my spirit animal.
Can I write a second book? Is there more kibble?
* Bierka was one of Ivan Pavlov’s 40 dogs used in his studies on classical conditioning. Though I write because I enjoy the creative element and it’s a lesson in lifelong learning, I also enjoy the feedback (kibble), as do most (if not all?) artists of any kind.
I’m curious. How have you been conditioned? Fitness as a result of running? Less stress thanks to meditation or yoga? If you need a little inspiration, maybe you can also adopt one of Pavlov’s dogs to be your kindred spirit. https://www.quora.com/What-was-Pavlovs-dog-named