Well, for some, it is to allow feelings to be released. For others, it is part and parcel of their job.
And for authors, it is because you have stories we wish to tell, and share with the world.
Now, anyone could write away and create a tale which they send off out into the big wide book world.
Self-publishing platforms have made it that simple. As long as you have access to a computer, you can write, download and press Publish, and that’s it.
You are a published author.
Plenty of writers out there have done that. There are over one million titles published worldwide, every year.
And if you have been trying, you know it is nearly impossible to land a traditional publishing deal. So, that’s where self-publishing, or independently publishing comes in.
But how many of those books that are self-published are successful?
If you market right, you’ll make some sales, then your book might get buried under the waves of newer books hitting the shelves.
There are some authors, though, who have smashed the Indie Author market.
And it’s not just by some fluke. (Maybe it is sometimes. I’ll name no names, but there are a few self-published books over the years that have become huge, yet the writing leaves a lot to be desired! But I digress…)
Those writers spend time on their books. They don’t just churn out reams of text, give it a quick glance, then press that Publish button.
They write, and reread, then write again. They use the eyes of beta readers as well as editors, to help their book baby grow. They take time to create a world within their book that will transport a reader. They want the cover to attract you. They want the blurb to hook you and reel you in. These writers want you to become fully immersed in their story. They want you to be thinking of the characters, long after you reach The End.
They want you to think of them; of buying any future books they may write.
They want you to want to readtheir books.
That’s why I write; to be read.
In my heart, I know my story is worth telling (fictional, not my life story!) I know it is a tale that would be enjoyed, providing I give it all the love and attention it requires.
That’s what the last few weeks have been about.
Reading, rewriting, getting feedback.
It’s taken me nearly 20 years to get to this stage, you know. That’s how much I believe in my story.
When I reached the last page, after this final set of revisions, I felt ready to send the manuscript out to my team of Beta Readers, and that’s where my book baby lies right now.
I sit here, nervously awaiting feedback now.
Will my baby be ready to be set free in the literary world?
With the facilities would-be authors have at their fingertips nowadays, writing a book, and getting it out there is relatively easy.
What I should really have said was writing a good book isn’t easy.
When you have poured your blood and sweat into writing a story that you are desperate to get out into the literary world, the biggest disservice you can do is not making sure you have perfected it to the best of your ability.
And in order to create a piece of work that is ready, it requires not just the author, but a whole host of others, especially if you decided to self publish.
your support network behind you, both physically and virtually
unbiased people ready to read what you are writing, and happy to feed back truthfully
an editor who you gel with, someone who knows your vision, and can give you constructive advice
more willing readers
a cover designer who gets your story
copy editors possibly
some one who understands formatting to make the interior of your book look as perfect as it can
a group of people out there willing to help you promote your masterpiece at the right time
I’m at a crucial stage now.
I have a fantastic support network, thankfully. I have had readers feedback on my original, Ritu-edited draft.
I have reworked parts according to the feedback given.
I found a wonderful editor who has read my work and has given me all sorts of helpful advice and feedback.
I have a list of ready to read beta readers once I manage to finish the edits I wish to make to perfect my story.
I even have a cover designer who has designed a beautiful cover for what will hopefully be my first novel.
There has already been the offer of formatting from one of my dear Blog Family.
And lots of promised support when that release date finally comes to happen.
I’m still not sure of copy editing, but will look into that soon too.
But right now, I need time to get this book ready.
A couple of years ago, I used the month of August to really steam ahead with the writing of this WIP that had taken on teenage status. and it really worked. #RiNoWriMo (Ritu’s Novel Writing Month) was what I needed, and I used my blog as an accountability partner. EAch week I would update my followers on my word count and whether I managed to do what I had hoped. The encouragement I received pushed me to continue, and by the end of the month, my WIP was nearly 60,000 words longer.
Not finished but so close.
I was mentally exhausted though, unsurprisingly, because my month wasn’t devoted to writing, I still had to be a mum to my children who were at the age where they couldn’t occupy themselves for too long, so I was acting as a peace maker/screaming banshee mother as well as writing/typing away furiously.
This year, I have created another month for myself, to get this book to the stage where I can finally say “It’s ready!”.
I’ll be focussing my attentions on the editing required, and the changes that I need to make to my manuscript, to give it the best possible chance of being read by more than just a few people out there.
It means that certain writing challenges that I take part in on my other blog may be forfeited for a few weeks, but I think that is acceptable, in the circumstances.
“To realise a dream, you sometimes have to let go of others.”
Ritu Bhathal 2019
And I shall be updating you all on here as to my progress, so you will all be my accountability partners.
These are phrases I have heard bandied about a lot over the years.
And they are very true. We all have something within us that we could tell.
But can we all write that book?
I’d like to invite you on my journey. I’m part way through it, hopefully nearing the end, to be honest, but in order for you to experience it all with me, I thought I’d share the long and winding road I have followed to get here.
The Story of My WIP
As a mid-twenties girl, about to embark on my own marital journey, I had an idea.
It was the bones of a story for a novel.
Everyone has a book inside them, so they say. Maybe this was mine!
I started writing this story in 2000, not realising the journey I would go on whilst this book was being written, both as a person, and a writer.
I managed to write around 6,000 words before the day I said “I do”.
The first year of marriage was busy. Not hard, but different to the life I was used to. It left no time for me to be faffing around with pen and paper or a computer.
But I could hear that floppy disk calling me… yes it was that long ago that my work was on floppy disks, later saved onto CD-ROMs. Way before the pen drives and clouds we are used to now.
I remember telling my Hubby Dearest about this book thing that I had started. He showed a little interest, and actually he even bought me my first laptop for me to continue my writing.
I printed what I had written and got a colleague to read it. She was encouraging and it spurred me on, I had an aim for getting 1,000 words done a night. That way within a few months I could have completed my book.
But life isn’t always that easy, is it?
Being a daughter in law meant I had certain responsibilities, including helping arrange my brother in law’s wedding, coupled with the fact that we wanted to start a family.
I tucked my book up for what I hoped was a short while, at around 13,000 words.
And there it languished, this time on a CD-ROM, for many years.
Sister-in laws came and went, and my own two children took up a lot of my time, leaving that poor WIP gathering computer dust… My literary creativity was at an all-time low. Non-existent. But I still read feverishly and enjoyed sharing children’s classics with my own kids.
Around fourteen years after I started writing this story, blogging came into my life, changing it completely!
My creativity was ignited again. I was responding to writing prompts and enjoying the whole process of moulding words into little literary artworks.
I was in touch with people like me. Bloggers who were writers, writers who were authors, poets, both. It was another world, this Blogisphere, and I loved it!
Again, my WIP whispered to me… “Let them read me… maybe you’ll want to finish me too…”
So, I took that step.
I published the first seven chapters of my story, on a weekly basis, to get the feedback from all these amazing writers out there.
And the feedback was so positive. There was a thirst for the next chapter to be posted, and the story seemed to hit a note with those who wrote it.
I just had to finish it. So many people wanted to know what happened next, and I didn’t even know that, as I had not really planned my story in such detail.
But, for writing, you need time. I saw two NaNoWriMo annual sessions pass and was gutted that I couldn’t take part in it. November is a busy month for a teacher. It just wasn’t happening.
I managed to squeeze in publishing a poetry book though, which I found simple, as I had so much material to use, but the writing… there just wasn’t the time!
By now I also had a small cavalry of authors who were also encouraging me to get back into writing.
I made a decision then.
If I couldn’t take part in the official NaNo, then I would do it myself.
I gave myself a target of 50,000 words, and chose the month of August to have my very own #RiNoWriMo – Ritu’s Novel Writing Month.
School holidays, and children who were older and able to keep themselves entertained, meant August was the best time for me to write.
It wasn’t easy, but I prepared myself by rereading all that I had written, correcting silly mistakes as I went along. I invested in a huge whiteboard which I decorated and made into a storyboard, and really planned my story, did character profiles, checked out locations etc.
It was all rather real!
And I wrote.
Boy, did I write!
During the month, I posted weekly on my blog, But I Smile Anyway about the progress of the novel, and whether I had hit my own targets.
My followers became my accountability partners, along with emails and messages from a few close blog pals, and they kept my momentum going.
My kids even heard snippets of it and were always asking what was going to happen to various characters, showing interest in this story of my making.
By the end of August, I had a manuscript that was nearly 70,000 words long, and still not finished, but not far off.
I was mentally exhausted, but so proud of myself.
I couldn’t bear to look at it for ages after. Partly because of the exhaustion, but also because my work life was really tough at the time, and I didn’t want to be half-hearted about the ending.
A few months passed, and Easter holidays came. I decided to have a reread of the last few chapters I had written, and (am I supposed to say this about my own manuscript?) I really enjoyed it!
It spurred me on to write more, and by the second week of the holidays, and eighteen years after starting, I finally had a fully completed first draft!
The first day I held a fully printed out version of my first ever first draft, was a truly blessed day! (Even though I saw a spelling error on the first page, as soon as I looked at it, d’oh!)
Since then I have had three trusted sources read it, give me initial feedback, I have rewritten and tweaked it, and even roped in a wonderful editor who has given me her comments, and I am partway through my hopefully final rewrite!
I sent a couple of queries out, got positive rejection messages too, and even entered the Twitter craziness of #PitMad a couple of months back, where an agent was interested too! She read some, gave some feedback and asked me to get back in touch when my manuscript was polished.
And there is even a possible cover on the table, but not finalized yet, as there is still work to do.
From rereading and rewriting, beta reading and editing, then the formatting and cover design if I decide to self-publish or choosing to write my synopsis and send letters out to agents, in the hope of getting discovered by a traditional publication house, to actually holding a physical copy of my book in my hand.
As long as it doesn’t take another nineteen years!