Thursday, March 15, 2018

dontravis.com blog post #276

Birthing a Book

Thanks again to Mark Wildyr for allowing me to guest post his two-part story, “Antony.” Don’t know what kind of reception he got, but I had a few comments. As usual, they liked Mark’s story.

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The fourth book in my BJ Vinson series, The Lovely Pines, is due out on or about August 28, so that manuscript is cast in stone (or in black ink, if you prefer), but we are about to enter an interesting phase on the fifth, Abaddon’s Locusts, which is scheduled for the first quarter of next year. This got me to thinking about what all a writer endures to get a book to publication, at least, as practiced by my publisher, DSP Publications. To many authors, this entire process is akin to giving birth to a child and raising her to a certain age before turning her out into the cold, cruel world. We’ll consider this in three parts:

Courtesy of Wikipedia
          ·       Insemination, gestation, and birth (writing the thing)
          ·       Becoming a debutante (searching for an agent or publisher)
          ·       Coming of Age (the publishing process)

Today, we will look at the first phase, insemination, gestation, and birth.

Insemination is, of course, the germ of an idea that suddenly infects your mind and worries your brain until you know it will one day need to appear as a finished work: a novel, a novelette, a short story, an essay… something. For this posting, we’ll consider it will emerge as a book.

This is followed by gestation, the long and difficult birthing of your baby: the writing of the book. For some of us this takes something like the human gestation period, and for others more like that of an elephant. (If you don’t know the difference, look it up.) Once that’s done (call it Draft #1), you sit down with the infant manuscript and begin the process of raising it. Getting it to take first steps and speak primitive words. This, for me, is more fun than writing the blessed thing, as this is when the story truly comes alive. You recast broken bones (places where you’ve gone off in left field when it should have been right field), clear out clogged veins and arteries (making sure flowers smell and birds twitter, instead of the other way around), and smooth out the wrinkles by choosing better nouns, stronger verbs, eliminating unnecessary “hads” and “thats” and the like, finding and ruthlessly squashing those useless “ly” words (damn! I just used one) infesting your child’s precious flesh.

Then, guess what? You probably do it all over again at least once more. The very same process. Call it Draft #2 (and possibly 3, 4… you get the idea).

Next, you spruce up your baby by running her through the wash. Spelling and Grammar, for sure. Maybe Grammarly, as well. Then you cradle her to your bosom and sing to her. By that, I mean, you read aloud. Every! Single! Word! Of late, I’ve discovered the value of the Read Aloud function on Word. When I read my work, I know what it’s supposed to say and read it that way regardless of what it actually says. Read Aloud repeats what’s on the document, and I find all sorts of mistakes that I’d been blind to.

When all of that is done, find somebody you trust to read the manuscript. Not a mother or father who’ll say, “That’s great! Wonderful job” but some crusty old bastard who’ll say “What the hell were you trying to say when you wrote…?”

Maybe… just maybe you’re now ready to consider sending your child out into the world by submitting her to a publisher or an agent.

Let’s cover that next week.

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Remember, folks: Keep on reading. Keep on writing. And keep on submitting your work to publishers and agents. You have something to say… so say it.

If you feel like dropping me a line, my personal links follow:

Facebook: Don Travis
Twitter: @dontravis3

Here are some buy links to City of Rocks, my most recent book.


See you next week.

Don

New Posts are published at 6:00 a.m. each Thursday.

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