Behind the Scenes

I hope you’ll excuse me, I’m a little giddy. Yesterday I posted my third ebook, ‘The Inn of Souls’, on Amazon, and spent a couple of hours on CreateSpace. Now all three of my ebooks are available in both paper and electronic formats. (Okay, the commercial is over.)

I’ve been here before—I was over the moon when I published my first ebook, ‘Behind These Red Doors: Stories a Cathedral Could Tell’. I put up a notice on facetube and LinkedIn, and the ‘likes’ and ‘hurrahs’ started piling up within a couple of minutes. I was very happily patting myself on the head and saying, ‘Good boy!’ when it dawned on me, no one had had a chance to read the book yet! This was a sobering realization I’m glad came to me.

I was feeling similarly smug and self-important late last week after I decided ‘The Inn of Souls’ ready to go—there was no more composing or editing to do, and all I really needed now was one final proofreading session, which I planned for a couple of days hence. (Oh boy, look at me, I’m an AUTHOR!)

Around 3 o’clock the next morning, I woke up with a start and said, ‘You have to rewrite the first and second chapters—they’re too detailed!’ In the morning I looked at the first and second chapters again, and they were too detailed! I also discovered other ways to improve the writing. I found that spellcheck is not an author’s friend. It’s almost as bad as autocomplete on a mobile telephone. (They’re their, there sew mien two yew.)

A friend who sometimes demonstrates remarkable precognitive abilities sent me this quotation by Tom Hanks yesterday morning, just before I submitted my book to Amazon: There isn’t any great mystery about me. What I do is glamorous and has an awful lot of white-hot attention placed on it. But the actual work requires the same discipline and passion as any job you love doing, be it as a very good pipe fitter or a highly creative artist.

This put things in perspective for me. It is thrilling to be a writer, and the response of the reader is both uplifting and seductive. It’s possible to succumb to the accolades and huzzahs and forget that the really important thing is the writing, telling an interesting and illuminating story, and doing a good job overall.

‘The Inn of Souls’ took a lot of effort. I was going to tell the story by way of a series of first-person journal entries. The story was to take place during the summer months, and I later realized that writing a journal entry for every day (for three months) would be arduous for me, and boring for you. So, I changed the presentation to a first-person narrative, enabling me to say, ‘Several days later.…’ Going over the existing manuscript was time-consuming, but I finally made all the necessary changes.

I was almost finished when I thought of a good twist to the ending. Ah, but now, to tell the story I wanted, I couldn’t write it in the first person (and if you want to know why, you have to buy the book!). So I rewrote the entire book in the third person. This improved the narrative, and it improved the writing. It gave even greater flexibility to the story-line and expressiveness of the prose. It gave a much better ending than I had originally planned.

It was a lot of work, but really, it was a lot of fun. This is what a writer does. This is part of the creative process, and as Mr Hanks says, the actual work requires the same discipline and passion as any job you love doing. If an author is really committed to an idea, change won’t be a problem, it will be fun and exciting. What will work best? What will the reader enjoy most? What will make the best possible creation?

I offer this illustrative ‘tale’ as a continuation of the series about creativity and writing well. I’m the first to acknowledge I sometimes stand in my own light and do a bad job because I’m busy admiring myself. Good writing is the fruit of humility; bad writing is a source of humiliation.

And in closing, I would like to thank the Academy, my psychic friend with the infinite supply of quotations, my Subconscious….

Oh, uh, and you, dear reader!

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