On Writing My Book

I first began by telling my frieMister and Friendnds and family that I was going to write a book. Quite risky, I know! But I felt that I needed to begin speaking it aloud in order to make it become a reality. I knew that if I failed to write my book that I would give a valid answer for the inevitable question of, “What ever happened to that book you were going to write?”

Next, I read about writing. I read Natalie Goldberg’s Writing down the Bones. I was hooked. She wrote so well, that I wanted to do it, too. Then I read her book, Old Friend from Far Away, the Practice of Writing Memoir.  Her writing about writing was usable to me. I understood it. I thought about attending writing classes, but I did not. I felt like I had my ideas and that I knew how to write from what the nuns had already beaten into me from Catholic school.

The first key strokes….I used some of Natalie’s ideas for the first few short stories: a memory, something outside my window, a trip, a person. But oh, the Monkey Mind, as Natalie writes about, is a fierce one to overcome. This is that part of your mind that thinks of everything else possible to do, other than what you really intend to be doing. The laundry needs to be done, or just one more trip to the store, and that dusting that hasn’t been done in ten years, probably needs to be done today.

A discipline had to be established. I would literally sit at my computer. If nothing came to my mind or fingers, I would continue to sit until something did come. I made lists of ideas, lists of suggestions friends made to me, lists of lists. If words flowed fast and furiously, I would write for hours on end, forgetting about eating or drinking fluids. Nighttime would come without notice on many days.

When I completed my first manuscript, and completed most of the items on my lists, I looked about, and said, “What now?” The real work was about to begin.


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