I recently read this for a friend at his book release party…
There are few art forms lonelier than writing a book. Writing a book is a marathon on a cold, dark night. You can see your breath and your feet slide across the ice from time to time. Your light grows dim and only occasionally a car passes. Sometimes you have to stop and rest and catch your breath and wonder what you’re doing out there. Other times you fantasize about calling a friend to come pick you up. Quitting seems completely logical. And here we are at the finish line. Thanks for not quitting.
But what does it take to write a book? You can study literature and perfect your grammar but never write a book. Most people think of writing a book, but few ever will. It’s a daunting task that mere mortals feel unqualified to do. Everyone reads a book, but few will ever write one.
So, what does it actually take to write a book? Everyone seems to dream of writing a book, but do we need a plaque on our wall to write one? Must we be a PHD, live an otherworldly life or fancy ourself an expert? Must we be the best, the brightest, the wittiest the clearest?
But seriously, what does it take to write a book? C O U R A G E. It takes courage. It takes steady, incremental belief. You have to believe your message matters to the world that it simply must leak out of you. You must dare to believe if you left it in your head stories would be un-lived and life-altering moments would never happen. You must be bold enough to hit pause on the demands of life for hundreds of hours in order to nourish the little life beating inside you. You can peel back the best books to find stories that breathe and bleed. The best ones are alive.
There are two problems with writing a book.
Here is the first problem: writing a book is real. There will be pain along the way. I’ll never forget the the 3 Star beatdown I received from Em3 on a small site called Amazon where she said “many sentences seemed like words awkwardly jumbled together”. It’s funny how a few words from one anonymous stranger make you want to quit. But they are mostly misunderstanding. Writing is messy and ugly and can leave us feeling insecure.
Perhaps we should listen to the words of an old mentor. The skin horse told the Velveteen Rabbit, “once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.” But this book is not written for the ones who won’t understand; it’s written for the ones who already do. People will underline your words and say “yes!” not because you’ve convinced them of something new, but because you’ve put lyrics to a song they were already humming in their hearts.
And there’s a second problem; writing a book is slow. This book I’m holding is an investment of many years, many moments and many lonely hours at the writing desk. And every investment is an act of delayed gratification. You’ve waited and waited and waited for this moment. In our fast culture you have dared to do a slow thing. Another wise mentor, the tortoise, reminded the hare, “the faster runner is not always the one who wins the race.” We are not honoring your speed, but your endurance.
Write on, my friends!
Want to write a book? I have created two writing guides to help you get your book out of you. Find them here.