That’s how books are written, I suppose, word by word, little by little. After a while of reading accounts of how people write, why they write, and the so-many steps they take from having an idea through to completing it is daunting beyond most things I’ve ever tackled.
And, I don’t think I have been able to tackle or grab this project firmly at any time – grapple-attempts would be a better term.
I’ve been wresting too many years with ‘how-to’ produce something in a form worthy of publishing, producing, and marketing a book of Musings. Yes, all those 6,000+ columns in storage on a hard drive or two, on a thumb drive – too much to print off to put in a pile, but quickly stored electronically. Not so easy to edit, slice, or dice into some format for the reader marketplace.
I could blame, but instead will credit Frank Dabbs. I started Musings March 21, 2003. It was early on, March 30th that year, after a couple of conversations, that Frank sent me this note:
Mark, In your morning musing you talked about smiling. Well, we should at least talk about doing a book. And I will carry around a smile today. I’m going east next week to see the grandsons. Let’s try to hook up maybe Thursday or Friday for a coffee.; FD
We did have coffee – and a celebratory brunch at the end of the first year. Frank made several suggestions then, and many others in the years to come, about how I might ‘put in book form’ these little columns I produce every day. A ‘best of’ collection was often discussed, or breaking them into themes or threads – something like that. As readers know by now, I’ve yet to go down either of those roads, though I admit to wasting too much time on false-starts. Each time I’ve had ah+ha moments about it, I’ve later had to recant the idea….
Recent discussions about ‘doing a book’ with several people have caused me to wrap my head around this idea again; I’m working on a novel, so editing and publishing that is high on my agenda. As I ‘get wise’ about how to do these things (fortunately I have some friends with considerable experience in this area), but as rabbit holes tend to do, I’ve been looking down some other paths. A short-story collection, a poetry collection – admittedly easy sounding to produce, because I have an inventory of completed work. I could, I expect, compile a collection in ‘publishable form’ quit easily by whittling down what I’ve done already – and, maybe write a few fresh pieces, and I could do that. Letting my mind race on that subject was easy.
But thought, lead to thought, leads to – something that is tougher to do, and more important to do: to distill 17 years of work, to polish/edit/publish ‘all of that.’ I must admit, if it weren’t for the labor-saving experience I’ve been having lately with the help of Merriam-Webster and Grammarly, it would be a much more daunting task. I have no target date, or ‘expect by date’ in mind. My education continues, my multiple-projects remain all ‘incomplete’ and works in progress. To those how find this column tedious or repetitive of many earlier visitations on this subject – you’ll just have to wait till the books come out! There, I’ve said it. ‘when the books come out’ is a word-set I am committed to.
First, I need to finish the novel – yes, that is #1 on my writing agenda – but that doesn’t mean I can’t start taking bites out of the elephant while I am doing that.
Thanks Mark. I 110% agree that the third column of shedding something is important, difficult and the most often left blank. This was the basically the same challenge I put to management teams. We are always asked to do more with the same resources. Don’t be afraid to shed something added years ago which may no longer be relevant or needed by the vast majority, ML, Calgary, AB