Below is a congratulatory letter sent to me by my longtime friend and fellow author Staci Greason. This piece is so beautifully written and so true about the writing process that I just had to post it. Staci was in my youth group when I was a summer youth director in Colorado following my sophomore year in college. She went on to have a successful acting career in Hollywood and then turned her creative gifts to writing. I'm glad she did. Her debut novel,The Last Great American Housewife http://www.amazon.com/Last-Great-American-Housewife-ebook/dp/B004FPZ4QG is an entertaining, well-written, and poignant read with some stunning insight into relationships and the human heart. It is getting great reviews.
How does anybody ever write a book?
Many years ago when I dreamed of being a writer, I imagined myself wearing a holey sweater hunched over a keyboard, pecking away into all hours of the night. Maybe I smoked or drank or both– but I was always sitting on a chair in a tiny cold room typing away like a madman.
Now that I am a writer, I know better. Writing looks an awful lot like avoiding writing. Once I’ve had the dream of a new book, I hike, call girlfriends, cook pasta dishes and date wildly inappropriate men. Some writers I know write by shooting hoops, obsessively vacuuming, watching repeats of bad television shows, and gambling. And every writer I know daydreams. Dreaming is good, but it’s best not to rely solely on dreams. Dreams can be flaky and finishing a book involves real hard work. So, how does anybody ever get a book done?
You have to summon up courage. The courage to pick up an axe, whack down that heavy groaning door of disbelief, and walk your story to The End - believing in its mission. This is why so many fail before the finish line. To begin is easy, to continue, difficult. The writer’s life isn’t for sissies.
To grow a book alone is a vulnerable and treacherous task. Ideas can be snatched by thieves, killed by mean editors, and even mismanaged in the hands of well-intentioned friends. But the worst enemy of a book is its writer. If he isn’t careful, the pages can get scorched from anger; or wither in the cold and thirst of neglect. If the writer falls too much in love with his own words then the pulp would be better-suited for a coffee table. But if the writer summons up his courage and stays on the path, one day he will complete the final chapter.
When the book is published, the writer is a hero (for a few weeks, maybe longer if he can stretch out the celebration parties). He joins the ranks of Twain, Hemingway, Cather, and Dr. Seuss. This might be the end of his journey, but it isn’t the end of the story. For a book, of course, is not a book until there are people who cherish it, grow and share from it, ban it from a local library, and threaten to burn its pages. (All reviews are good if they draw attention and increase sales for the writer and his publisher.)
A few months later, the writer is restless and cranky. His friends start call-screening. He annoys his kids and shadows his wife around the house. She prays for him to receive a new vision or get a real job. This unbearable behavior might last a few months or heaven forbid, a few years. Such is the hardship faced when living with a writer.
And then one morning while waiting for the coffee to brew, the writer’s thoughts travel outside the window and catch a daydream on a cloud. Suddenly, he is gone. And everybody in the house breathes a sigh of relief when they see him running through the back yard with an axe - eager to break down the next barrier on his writer’s path. Congratulations, Ramon! You did it!