When people find out I’m a writer, or they finally meet me, an inordinate amount of people tell me they want to write a book, or they have a book in them, but they don’t have the time. I smile, trying not to grimace because the typical person seems to think writing is easy. It’s not.
Most of you read the above paragraph without seeing what a writer sees. A professional writer would notice I used a run-on sentence, and I omitted using a semicolon on the last sentence. Writing is hard work, but the end result should be magical. When I’m asked about how to write a book, story, or poem, my answer invariably is the same; write. Don’t daydream about it or discuss it, write. Write your poem, story, book, and get it out of your system. Exhale. Go back and read what you have written. Now rewrite it, adding and subtracting words and sentences, edit grammatical mistakes, and then congratulate yourself. You did what you set out to do, you’ve written your story.
Hope you enjoyed your congratulatory moment, because now you have to send it to someone else, a beta reader or a proofreader. I have about 7 whom I use on a semi-regular basis, rotating them depending on the project. The betas point out the holes in your story, the errors, and they make suggestions on how to fix your story. Make sure you thank them, voicing your appreciation for the invaluable help they give. Guess what’s next? Yup, another rewrite.
The list of suggestions from your betas sits next to your laptop as you painfully rewrite your story again. New ideas emerge, making your story richer and more robust than it was originally. You finish your story, feeling wonderful about your efforts. You send it to your betas once again, receiving thumbs up and congratulations from them, making you feel complete and perfect as a writer. Now you’re done, right? Wrong. There’s a man or woman waiting for you to send them your story.
These fearsome creatures are armed with a single weapon, a red pen or marker. Yes, this is the editor. This is the person who calls you a moron for ending sentences with prepositions, for using the wrong tenses, and your lack of indentations has them pulling out their hair. When your battle scarred project is returned from the dreaded editor, you know what you have to do, right? Sigh, another rewrite.
This is the process of finishing a project. I neglected to mention the research involved in writing a story, or the creative spark needed to start a project. Nor did I mention coming up with a title, cover artists, publishers, agents, contracts, magazines, contests, or the other routes we writers must travel in order to find a home for our projects. Writing is not as easy as you thought, right? No worries, you can either write, or daydream about writing. My advice remains the same; just write. If it’s in you, it’ll show in your work. If it’s not in you, it’ll show in your work. Because it is most definitely work. -msh
© 2016 Marlon Hayes, All rights reserved-Marlon S. Hayes
Marlon S. Hayes is a writer, poet, and author from Chicago, Illinois. He’s the author of View from the Sidelines, a poetry collection,Touching Myself, an erotic anthology, and his latest, Perceptions of Beauty. He’s a featured author in the upcoming anthology, A Journey of Words from Scoutmedia. Currently, he’s looking for a publisher for his novel, Eleven Fifty Nine. Follow him at Marlon’s Writings on Facebook.