Erin is also giving away two copies of her soon to be published book. Visit her on Goodreads to enter, the giveaway ends Friday, January 24, 201.
Take it away Erin.
On What It Takes To Write a Book
By Erin M. Truesdale
I’ve wanted to be a writer my entire life. For the vast majority of that time, I never knew what it took to get anything published, so writing was always put on the back burner. Each person is different, and it will take a special mix of circumstances, drive, connections, and, I can’t emphasize this enough, confidence, to get it done. Confidence, and the ability to not take constructive criticism personally, are key to reaching your goal of writing a publishable manuscript.
In high school, I constantly had a notebook and pen in tow so I could write in every minute of my spare time. Some of my most prized possessions are my hand-written, soap opera-like stories of epic proportions that I wrote between classes (most were based on my current hard rock front man crush at the time), because so much of my passion and youth went into writing them. Compliments from teachers and students alike weren’t quite enough to boost my confidence to the level needed to major in English in college.
Okay, so that’s sort of a lie. In my first year in college, my official declared major was English. Being surrounded by so many high caliber students, I felt intimidated. I didn’t feel like I could compete with these people who seemed like professionals to me, the shy girl from a small high school. Plus, reality was setting in for the first time, in that I didn’t think I could make any money from writing. Additionally, and this is something to which I think many of us can relate, I didn’t want to be ‘confined’ to what scholars thought was an appropriate style, or schematic, to which creative writing should adhere. I couldn’t wrap my head around a professor telling me my writing was ‘bad,’ because creative writing is so subjective, how can anything creative be bad?
Over a decade later, I can now tell you: There is a purpose to literary style and format and structure. There is, and it’ll change your writing forever. It doesn’t confine you; it actually opens up worlds to you and organizes your thoughts in a cohesive and critical way.
It sounds simple, but it’s true, and it’s important. If you want to be a writer, write every single day. I don’t care if what you write is pure rubbish. Write, write, write. As Ray Bradbury said, “Write a short story every week. It’s not possible to write 52 bad short stories in a row.” I think he might be on to something.
The urge to write never left me, it just sort of got sidelined by life. However, when I heard about National Novel Writing Month, I decided to give it a go. In November of 2012, I wrote a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. Just like that! And you know how? I wrote every single day for 30 days, I set a word count goal for myself each day, and I held myself accountable for those goals. And it worked.
The resulting novel wasn’t the best piece I’ve ever written, but that’s not the point. If you don’t practice, you’ll never hone your craft. So I kept writing, and I set more goals. It doesn’t even have to be novel writing… short stories, screenplays, poetry, it all counts. NaNoWriMo has a couple smaller (and, honestly, less stressful) events throughout the year, of which I took part in the spring and summer of 2013, churning out two more lengthy manuscripts. By August of last year, I finally had a novel length manuscript I felt was good enough to have an editor look over and (crossing my fingers) pitch to publishers sometime in 2014.
Although I’ve always loved writing short stories and flash fiction, poetry is my first love. The book I’m releasing January 28, 2014, Lifeblood: A Poetry Collection, has been over a decade in the making. I’ve gathered up my best poems dating from 2002 to 2013 and compiled them into one volume. I think this is great because, taken as a whole, it really is about life’s journey. Each poem has a certain tone or subject that gives the reader a sense of what I was going through at the time, and I am certain that you’ll be able to relate to all of them in your own unique way.
For the time being, I’m self-publishing. At first I thought this was not as commendable as snagging a deal with a ‘real’ publisher. Not so. As an artist, don’t you want to have total control over your product? With self-publishing, you can. You design the book cover and every single page of the book yourself. It is hard, I won’t lie. When I published my first book, I struggled for several stressful nights on formatting, especially eBook formatting. Once you nail it, though, it’s smooth sailing from there.
It might seem daunting, or even terrifying, to publish your work and send it out to the masses to be happily ingested by some and maliciously torn apart by others, but the rewards far outweigh the negative aspects. To hold a book in your hands that you’ve poured your heart and soul into… there is truly nothing more exciting and wonderful.