I was asked recently What made you decide to write a book?
While I was answering the question I found myself thinking…I’ve been asked this question a thousand times—perhaps it’s time to write the answer down so I can save people the trouble of listening to me explain it.
Sometimes I think it wasn’t a matter of me deciding to write a book…but more of a book deciding I needed to write it.
It started way back in 1988.
At the time, I would read anything in front of me. Being a single parent I had plenty of free time and no money, so reading was the most cost-effective entertainment I could find.
One day, out of the blue, an idea for a story of my own came to me. I didn’t pay much attention to it, but it wouldn’t go away. Eventually I decided to give it a try—not because I thought of myself as author material, but because I couldn’t stop thinking about the story. So I bought a five-subject spiral-bound notebook and started writing (Remember – in 1988 the home computer was still a thing of the future).
I had no idea how to write a book, mind you. I just figured Start at the beginning and write until you get to the end.
The story was going to be about Karma and how the actions of one person will not only affect his/her life…but will also affect the lives of people he/she doesn’t even know. I called it Full Circle.
At the time, I didn’t tell anybody I had started writing a book, but once I was about ten chapters into it I told my best friend and his wife (his wife was also an avid reader). I asked her if she would read what I had and tell me what she thought. She agreed and told me it was pretty good and that I should keep going. So I did.
I wrote another five chapters, but it was about this time that life started getting in the way, so I put it aside and kept telling myself I’d get back into it as soon as I “had time”.
That was 25 years ago…
In 2006 I moved to Florida and Full Circle, along with any thoughts I had of being a writer, were long since forgotten…but sometimes you can’t deny something if it’s meant to be.
In April of 2007 I had a dream.
It was like most dreams…really weird. It involved two friends of mine who had never met, one of whom I hadn’t seen in over twenty years.
The following day the dream was stuck in my head. I couldn’t stop trying to figure out where it had come from. By the time I left work I was thinking about nothing else and when I got home I went straight to the computer and started writing.
I began with the line The whole thing started with a dream.
From there I was off and running, and, since I had no social life, I had plenty of time to write. It wasn’t long before the story began to take shape.
Interesting side story;
At that time, I was living with my brother and his girlfriend. After a few weeks my brother asked me what the hell I was doing on the computer all the time. So I told him I was writing a book.
I fully expected him to laugh, but he didn’t. His first response was ‘I think you should put me and DeeDee in it’ (DeeDee being his girlfriend). So I did. I literally added them into the scene I was writing when he said it.
My brother’s name is Ted—he is a huge New England Patriots fan—and his girlfriend called him Brewski…after former Patriot linebacker Tedy Bruschi. So, as of that moment, Brewski and Didi were introduced into the story. It was only supposed to be a cameo – but they were such good characters I have used them in every book since.
Anyway – back to the original story.
It took me about six or seven months to finish the first draft of Living the Dream—and it totally sucked.
The fact that it sucked didn’t bother me, because I had set out to write a book and, regardless of the quality, I had done it. I could now move on to my next dream…jamming with Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page (I have a feeling that one won’t be so easy).
Unfortunately, the universe doesn’t work that way. Something wouldn’t allow me to let that particular dog lie—so after a couple of weeks I re-opened the file and started rewriting from the beginning. I went through it from start to finish and when I was done it sucked much less, so I printed out a few copies and begged a few people to read it and tell me what they thought.
After I got their feedback I went through the story again (refer to my How I Write post for more info about this aspect of the process) and again. Finally, almost a year after I started, I had a finished manuscript which (in my opinion) didn’t suck very much at all.
So, like I said…I didn’t decide to write a book, as much as the book decided I needed to write it.
…and in case you’re wondering, I do intend to finish Full Circle, as soon as I have time!
As always, thank you for reading.