Wednesday, November 19, 2008

There is this book...

... that has taken hold of me. And it doesn't even exist!

A few times in my life, I have felt inclined - compelled, even - to write a book. It's not a feeling I enjoy. Most times, I have been able to fob it off with a few chapters before succumbing gladly to writer's apathy.

I have written a few (passingly decent) short stories in my time, and a few dreadful poems, but a book is a different matter. A different matter entirely. And I don't have time to spend writing a whole book when I have to earn a living! And I certainly have neither the time nor the energy to try to find a publisher. I mean, kick a bush and two would-be authors fall out. I've seen the hassle some of my writer friends have had, and I want none of it. Hence the welcoming attitude towards aforesaid apathy.

This time it appears to be different. The book was birthed in my head, totally unexpectedly as I drove my son to school today. With astonishing speed, it took root in my chest, where it is threatening to explode if I don't let it out. And I now have unspeakable heartburn.

This time, it's not just the germ of an idea. This time the book has a title... and I know how it ends!

Just to explain... I have no pretensions to the next cluetrain manifesto, Naked Conversations, Knowing Knowledge or Informal Learning. Those books look for more skillful, more knowledgeable authors. The books that try to get me to write them are usually works of fiction. Flights of fancy. That kind of thing. Quite often they're appropriate for the age my children happen to be at the time, and are extensions of some or other tale I have been weaving for them. It's a dirty trick, trying to use emotional blackmail on a person, but it seems books have no shame.

This particular book is based on fact. On the life of a real person. Someone who died when I was a teenager and who was only peripherally known to me. Someone who was a no-one. Someone whose name leapt unbidden into my head, accompanied by a crystal clear mental snapshot and a motion picture of his very characteristic walk.

How do you persuade a book that you're not the right author and send it on its way to find another?


V Yonkers said...

Karyn, now is your chance and it is the right time. You don't need a publisher per se. Why not blog it? Create another blog with the title of the book. Get feedback.

Pretty soon, you will know if it is of publishable quality. If it isn't, you can at least get it out of your head (obviously it is pounding to be let out) so you can go back to more mundane things.

Who knows, you could be the 21st century Charles Dickens, with readers and followers hanging on to read your next installment...or not. But you'll never know until your try. Take advantage of the technology you know so much about! I look forward to reading your book on line.

The upsycho said...

Honestly Virginia - that's not the answer I was looking for! [rolls eyes] You're not supposed to be encouraging me in this - you're supposed to talk me out of it!

Honestly, a person just can't find good help, these days! [rolls eyes again and sighs dramatically]

Let me 'splain: I'm not supposed to be an author, so you're supposed to tell me how I can quell the occasional urge to be one. Everyone thinks they can write a book - me included, on occasion. But then I also have my moments when I think I can run a half-marathon. I come to my senses pretty quickly.

This is a lovely book, but it really wants an author who is not trying to scratch a living as a self-employed L&D consultant who is also trying to write a Master's dissertation!

V Yonkers said...

Ah, but I would be doing you a disservice if I gave you what you wanted: an excuse NOT to do what you probably CAN do. Think of how many times you go into a business and they put up road blocks for the opportunities you present to them (we aren't one of those "modern" companies that use that Web 2.0 stuff).

So I'm not going to let you off the hook and say, "You're write. You aren't an author. Find someone else." You have a loyal following that enjoy your blog. So you MUST have some ability in authoring. You'll never know till you try. I suggest you begin by jotting down your thoughts, so you don't forget the idea. Then work on it 20 minutes a week.

BTW,now you know what my kids feel like (and probably your own kids and your clients when you don't let them off the hook).

Anonymous said...

If you like the idea enough, why not go for it.

Record what you have so far in audio (quicker and can do whilst moving around if short of time?) and if you want to turn it into written form can do so as and when (like Virginia's suggestion of a blog or wiki or anything else)...

If you don't you'll never know whether it was worth the personal investment or not :-)

Bern Thompson said...

Karyn, have you started this book project? It's your story to tell, and you have the voice. I've enjoyed scanning your posts (from the recipe project to your Leonard Cohen concert), and I will be back to see if you report on your progress as you begin the adventure of writing this tale that's waiting for you to tell it. Another learning adventure awaits you!

The upsycho said...

@Bern Thanks for the encouragement. I have put out feelers with my family and old schoolfriends for research. Sadly, said friends have gone bucketing down memory lane on countless different tangents, none of them related to the story that's trying to be told! This is what happens when you set up a group discussion on Facebook, instead of sending out a whole series of individual emails.

I have approached the newspaper, museum and library in the twon in question, and heard not a word in response.

It remains only for one aunt and uncle to come back with what I know is a wealth of background info... if only I can inviegle it out of their heads!

Bern Thompson said...

Perhaps an article, an essay, a single chapter then, if not a complete book. There's something there, wait for the promptings to begin, but don't let it fall through the cracks . . .

The upsycho said...

@Bern I've set up another blog, where I write bits and bobs of it. None of it published, so far - it's just a holding space.

Since I wrote this post, the approach for the book has presented itself to me, too. I'm quite excited about it, actually and I think it would make for quite an unusual read... if I can do it justice!