We have all heard the phrase ‘Everyone has a book in them’, my interpretation of that is that, we all have enough knowledge, experience, memories and history to write a good book, be it fiction or factual. Have you ever tried? I have, I’m currently writing my first book and although it’s not easy, its massively fun!
I, like may others, have often dreamed of living somewhere remote and spending my days in comfy clothes in a cabin at an old desk, in some far off world of fiction. But I, like many others, still have a day job and write only as a hobby. Perhaps that’s for the best? But still, if there is a book in each of us, I want to know what mines about!
Being a bit of a get up and go type of guy, I took the plunge. I had an idea for a book, the subject is close to my heart and it flows from me like water in a stream. So even if I’m the only person that ever reads it, it doesn’t matter, it’s great! Who is this John Weston guy, I want to read more of his stuff?
I have absolutely no doubt whatsoever, that my review of my own book is slightly skewed in favor of the positive, and other more professional reviewers may be slightly less inclined to do so, but it doesn’t matter, I am seriously enjoying myself.
I’m even enjoying the research which at first seemed like a real annoyance, but the research makes it accurate, and so the story is even more realistic. I bought books on the location to accurately describe fauna, the climate and the environment, and I constantly refer to the internet for historical data to tie my story in with the real world.
I have read articles of authors and how they plan their workflow, some treat it like a day job and assign x amount of hours to research, plus y amount of hours to complete z amount of pages. This seems like a goal oriented method, and appeals to my sense of organisation, but doesn’t really add to my romantic vision of sitting in my cabin in the woods writing freely, and living the writers dream as it were.
With a full time day job, I cannot assign time to research and time to produce a fixed quantity of pages, but I can enjoy myself, and so I’m currently going with the writing freely method.
Perhaps the most enjoyable part of my book writing, is the translation. The book is written in my character’s dialect or accent. So whilst trying to capture the story that flows from me, I’m also having to translate it and understand how he would of said those words write those words appropriately (which most document software doesn’t understand and constantly tries to correct), and make these translations comprehensible to people other than myself. It may seem weird that translating is enjoyable, but it is. I literally finish a paragraph and read it back to myself, and I’m instantly there, I can see him, and I can see the landscapes I’ve described and his accent is true to the place and time. I honestly think that writing my book without this added complexity of translating literally would result in a different book. I don’t think it would grab me, I don’t think it would transport me, but most of all, I don’t think I would continue to return to it to finish it, it wouldn’t be as good.
This brings me to my next dilemma. I have looked many times into how long a first book should be, and aside from different suggestions, I’m a little disappointed that one day it will be finished, and I’ll only be able to read it and not engage with it, no longer will I be able to add to it, play with the characters, change the weather or the wildlife or turn the story upside down. One suggestion to book length was that you should just write your book and adjust post-feedback. I currently reside in that camp. My book isn’t finished, it’s not War and Peace length, but its also not Jack and Jill either. And if this may be the only book I ever write, I want it to be the book I want it to write.
I can honestly understand how authors such as Tolkien or Rowling end up with a series of books. As I write, unexplored tangents appear that have no place in this book, but perhaps the next? Or should I delve into these tangents slightly and somehow cleverly bring the story back to the original tale, much like Wilbur Smith does. Diverting can add background and depth the story, or it seems it can interrupt the flow and read as the authors frivolous indulgence in writing itself. There’s a balance there that I hope I have found, can find more of and can appreciate.
This is, as I have said, my first book, and I am (clearly) by no means any kind of expert writer, but what I am good at, what life has taught me so far, is that I know what I enjoy and my humble opinion is that enjoying it, is the whole point.
There will be a lot of disappointment when this book is finished, there will be times when I re-read the book and wished I had written something else, or written a chapter differently or taken the story somewhere else, but thats the nature of creativity. Robert Plant (Led Zeppelin) spoke once of the words to Stairway to Heaven, possibly one of the greatest, most popular songs ever written, and he said that given the chance to do it again, the words would be different, he feels he can do better. Lets face it, Stairway to Heaven did pretty well regardless of what he thinks about it now. So if my book is my equivalent Stairway, then I’ll surely be happy with the result, and although I’ll be sad to finish the book, how awesome will the feeling of satisfaction be to see it bound, to read it end to end and to visit that place in full, with no more questions of direction.
I am hugely keen to hear from other writers in my shoes; inexperienced, un-tutored and simply just enjoying the way the words flow and a whole new world appears on the screen in front of us. Perhaps we can decipher some of the mysteries together and share and critique our work. Theres many more hurdles to face yet, even when the sad day comes when it is finished, we need to publish maybe, and we need to publicise our work for the rest of the reading world to share that place where we spent countless hours creating.
Writing is a fantastic medium of creativity. I hope I can grow as an author, writer or whatever form it takes, but most of all, I hope I can always enjoy it.
Please do also take the time to enjoy my websites:
www.jdweston.com for my outdoor life.
www.weston.media for my photography.