I was talking to a friend the other day about writing. He is working on a novel and wanted to hear about the process I used. I gave him the only advice I know, “Write first, fix it later.” I learned that from teacher, Carol Crawford, at John Campbell Folk School in the writing class I took there in the spring of 2007. That advice served me well through the process of writing Eliza’s Story and what will become portions of Julia’s Story. Producing a book starts with a blank screen (funny, how our world has changed, it used to be a blank page). At some point, you have to just start putting words on that screen. No matter where you start in the story, you can add to it or delete sections. You can rearrange your beginning, cut entire sections, add more detail or change your perspective. None of that really matters at first. You just have to start, and in my opinion, starting is the hardest. There are always other things to be done first. Housework, yardwork, laundry, dogs and family needing attention, church work. Even though I tell people that writing a prequel and a sequel to Eliza’s Story are high priorities for me, my actions don’t show it. In the last few weeks, when not marketing Eliza’s Story, I painted the outside trim of our house and planted a flower bed in the front (in case someone wanted to visit the author’s house), trained Cory, visited with family, watched television, browsed facebook and contemplated buying a kayak to use in my “spare time”. I did do some research on immigration from Germany in the 1830s, wrote an introduction to Julia’s Story, starting reorganizing the cut portions of Eliza’s Story that will become part of Julia’s Story, but have not really written anything despite the fact that every day, people ask me when the next book will come out! I laugh when I think about a saying husband is fond of regarding pregnancy, which when you think about it, is a lot like producing a book. He teases newly married couples, “The first one (meaning baby) can come at any time, the rest take nine months.” I feel that way with my second book as no one knew I was writing the first one so it could lie dormant in my computer for months, even years, without anyone asking when it would be published. Now, I feel some urgency to get the next one done, when in truth, it will take as long or longer as the first one did in secret, six and a half months. That is if I can find the discipline to write one chapter a week until the story takes on a life of its own and the writing gets faster and easier. As I encouraged my friend, I encouraged myself. “Just write, fix it later.” I’ve got to begin. What goals have you set for your life? Don’t wait, get started!
Whatever is in your heart determines what you say. Matthew 12:34b (NLT)