Nowhere Near As Easy As It Looks

Sometimes the people who ask the question go on to say they are not sure they can be creative on paper every day. I tell them with all seriousness I am not sure I can be creative on paper each day either. Most of the time, writing a book more closely resembles digging a ditch than participating in some transcendent creative experience.

 

A pen and a keyboard and paper and ink are nothing more or less than the tools of a writer. They are to be regarded the way a construction worker regards a well-worn set of boots and a well loved shovel. The tools simply remind the worker to get up each day and go back to work no matter how much or little progress was made the day before. I became better at the craft of writing sentences on the day I finally understood I was engaged in a construction project as much as an artistic pursuit.

 

Writing a book is nowhere near as easy as it looks and heaven knows not as easy as some claim. Writing a book is seldom easy, even for those who have written some of them.

 

– Robert Benson – “Dancing on the Head of a Pen”

Designer Jeans or Bermuda Shorts?

– by Leona Choy

 

Here’s the long and the short of it.

Let’s personify an IDEA as if it were a person. When writers get a heads-up that an idea is approaching, they would do well to deliberate wisely what to clothe it in appropriately, since it appears stark naked! One size of trousers doesn’t fit all, and there are many styles from which to choose.

You can expedite your attire decision by whittling down your idea to a couple of concise, descriptive sentences. That will stand you in good stead and save you time and grief by not selecting proper clothing.

Problems arise when the writer tries to convince the idea to wear long pants when short pants are more suitable. A writer may try to force an idea to become a book when it would be much better dressed in shorts—an article in a magazine, a short story, a guest post, an editorial, newspaper column or a blog post. Perhaps it would do better as many pairs of shorts of different colors and styles slanted to various publications. It’s important to realize whether an idea has enough substance to carry you through an entire book and whether there is a market for it.

Or the other hand, while in the process of clothing your idea in shorts, the writer may discover that several short articles are beginning to bond and could be morphed into chapters of a book. One’s own E pluribus unum, (out of many, one). One book of many chapters may come forth from what were previously separate or short stories, if the right adhesive is applied by a creative writer to bind them together.

Throughout my ten years as a blogger, I wrote a considerable number of posts on related themes each with a fresh hook and slant. For several of my recently published inspirational books, I stitched the “shorts” together with a compatible theme. With considerable editing, of course, I assembled them into full length books. The more abbreviated ideas appeared in long designer jeans.

In another of my books I used an interview format in each of the twenty-four chapters imagining dialogue with prominent religious persons of the past century. I based the interviews on their writings and bound them together under a common theme. Each chapter was dressed in shorts. After the book was published, one of the persons (chapters) began to “speak out” and ask for a change of clothing—it demanded, as it were, long trousers instead of abbreviated shorts.  During my research I accumulated more than enough fascinating material to propose a new book project to a publisher devoted to the person that chapter was about. The single short chapter turned into an extensive biography of Dr. Andrew Murray, a missionary statesman of the nineteenth century. In fact, I became his “authorized biographer.” After wearing shorts, this idea changed clothes and wore long trousers.

My original, productive over-researching led me to discover in library archives several out-of-print books Murray wrote which were unknown to modern readers. I proposed to another editor that I would be available to “contemporize” them into a more user-friendly edition since they were now in common domain. Three more long trouser books came from that proposal. What was originally only a short chapter in a book multiplied into an entire wardrobe which has since been translated into six foreign languages.

Writers don’t always know in the beginning how to clothe an idea when it comes strolling into the edges of our minds.  It’s critical to success in writing to know when to go long or short with the material and be open to change or exchange its attire as time goes by. We should even muster up the courage to discard the idea entirely and move on. Sometimes an idea that we think is grandiose turns out not to be suitable either for book length or a short article. It might simply be happy to wear a pair of short-shorts—like a poem?

 

THE GENESIS OF IDEATION

In the beginning I had a bright idea,

and the idea bounced around in my head

without form and void

of structure or organization.

 

Should I let it live or die?

Is it meant to swim or fly?

Should I let it soar? How high?

Does God’s Spirit brood over it

and breathe into it the breath of life?

 

Or was it a thoughtless notion,

a product of my own concept or emotion?

Is it simply my ephemeral opinion,

sentiment, persuasion, or view,

inclination or speculation?

 

Should I tenderly nurture it?

Let it simmer or bring to a boil?

Or jettison it to the circular file?

Is it worthwhile marketing?

Will an editor smile?

Lord, give me wisdom to discern.

What Added Value Items Should You Include in Your Book Proposal?

– by Jana Burson

 

Beyond all the standard sections that need to be included (Title/subtitleSynopsisTable of Contents and Chapter Summaries, Sample ChaptersPlatform) there are some added value items writers can include to enhance their overall proposal.

They are:
* A designed proposal
* Photographs
* Author video

Oftentimes, we work with our clients to have their proposals designed once the content has been finalized. This allows for a visually pleasing document to be sent to publishing houses for consideration, rather than a plain text document. Editors receive stacks upon stacks of proposals and a designed proposal stands out from the crowd. It’s also another way for an author to showcase their overall style or brand and personality.

Including an author photo personalizes the content even further and allows for an editor to put a face with the content. If you also have an active speaking platform, or perhaps you lead a small group, or you do one-on-one coaching … including additional photos of you in action in your element will add even more depth to your platform.

And last, but not least, when it makes sense and the author has the ability, they can include a short (never more than 2 minutes) video where they share their heart behind the book. This provides yet one more way for an editor to connect with the author and suddenly they become more than just a name or an image on a page.

The Fluidity of Decentralization

Our society is moving away from the rigid order of hierarchy toward the fluidity of decentralization. It is moving from nouns to verbs, from tangible products to intangible becomings. From fixed media to messy remixed media. From stores to flows. And the value engine is moving from the certainties of answers to the uncertainties of questions. Facts, order, and answers will always be needed and useful. They are not going away, and in fact, like microbial life and concrete material, facts will continue to underpin the bulk of our civilization. But the most precious aspects, the most dynamic, most valuable, and most productive facets of our lives and new technology will lie in the frontiers, in the edges where uncertainty, chaos, fluidity, and questions dwell.

 

– from “The Inevitable” by Kevin Kelly

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