Feeling exuberant, I plunged into writing the first chapter of my memoir. My fingers ached from typing so much as the sentences flowed. After 700 words I happily read what I’d written.
It was awful.
Seriously, what the hell was I trying to say?
Who was going to read any of this?
And that was my problem. I’d forgotten who I was writing for. Instead of keeping my imaginary writer in mind, I wrote lovely prose all for myself. My memoir had turned into masterbation and I honestly thought someone would pay to watch.
I deleted every word I’d written and stared at that blank screen so long I stopped blinking.
After a few days of self pity, during which I decided I was the worst writer in the world and no one would buy any book of mine and how dare I think I had a story anyone would want to read, I thought about why I was writing a memoir. I want to help struggling parents who are raising special needs children while coping with their own complex emotions. Who were those parents? I remembered myself at age 29 with a tiny, medically fragile baby and no idea how I could save her. Slowly, I wrote to the young woman I used to be, realizing that the world was filled with terrified parents clutching fragile children. I wrote what I had longed to hear those first few weeks.
Remembering why I was writing my memoir, and who I was writing it for, put me back on track. I finished chapter one knowing my words have purpose and the book has a point. We’ll see what my editor thinks, but for now, I am grounded enough in the writing to finish this book.
When I edit, I always ask authors what the book is about and who they are writing for. It was surprising to realize I had forgotten to follow my own advice.
Or at least that’s what I’d like you to believe…
I actually am working diligently on the second edition of What You Need to Know to Be a Pro; the Business Start Up Guide for Publishers, so my blogging and other writing activities have been put on hold. Creating the second edition has been a fascinating process because so much has changed since I first started publishing. Five years ago, ebooks were just emerging. The Kindle was barely functional and the Nook wasn’t conceived yet. Only hard-core techno geeks read ebooks, or pirates who stole manuscripts off of hacking sites.
Today, more books are sold via the Kindle than paper books on Amazon.com. The iPad has created a revolution in interactive books, and the Nook is gaining in popularity. My press, Medusa’s Muse, released its first ebook, the memoir Traveling Blind: Life Lessons from Unlikely Teachers, by Laura Fogg. This was the first book I published, so it seemed fitting that it was the inaugural book in our ebook start-up.
Because e-books have changed the publishing world, the 2nd edition of What You Need to Know needed a chapter on ebooks, which the first edition did not. Plus, technology has changed, so I’ve expanded the section on websites and the internet. Five years of experience has broadened my understanding of publishing, so I have a lot more information to share with start-up publishers.
I’ve been researching and revising and writing new chapters and creating exercises and lists for the “business book”, so that means I haven’t had much time to write new posts here or keep up with my favorite bloggers. It’s worth it; the 2nd edition of What You Need to Know is going to be excellent. I’m very proud of this little handbook of mine. Can you tell?