• Grant Handgis

The Writing Thing

All the articles written on how to get your book published as well as all the research one does to keep abreast of the changing landscape of publishing in general and POD publishing in particular, the one essential element of the dynamic process of publishing is keeping the writing momentum. I speak as one who takes the advice I offer up on this blog. The memoir I recently published through Create Space has been receiving good approval from those who have read it. It goes without saying I would rather have a much larger pool of said readers to draw inferences to overall likeability of the story. A hundred thousand would be a good statistical number to work with. I'm working on that number as I write this. In the meantime I've been judiciously setting aside time for writing, and making headway. The current book is the sequel of the first memoir. I like to think it is even better than the first book. I'm biased though. Having an absolute schedule is not the same as a ideal schedule. An absolute schedule for the most part is unrealistic for most writers. I am also not a constructionist writer, with the ability to sit down for fifteen or twenty minutes to crank out a few lines whenever one makes it to the keyboard. Assuming one utilizes a computer. My approach is to get all the junk from the daily affairs out of my head long enough to get into the setting of the story with all senses wide open. Then the words flow forth, as me describing what I am experiencing. Creative writing, for me, is not a cognitive exercise. It is telling stories of the emotional connection to events and people, experiences and memories. That means being in the moment when gathering the story, and penning the lines. But that's just me. My idea schedule was to see the book completed and ready for printing in roughly six months. That roughly translates to about a chapter a week. That's doable, and there is plenty of leeway for the many surprises that crop up in life from time to time, like it or not. Speaking for myself, writing a memoir is a bit different from writing a novel or historical accounting. The author knows all the information, with possible exception to exact dates or names of places mentioned. Probably one of the purest and most direct connections to storytelling. Right out of one’s head.

The real focus, for me, in writing a memoir is simply this; one’s life becomes a naked figure for God and everyone else to see, reading about one’s deepest follies and indiscretions in life. How much to tell. . . I wrestled with that for almost a chapter, wondering just how naked I wanted to feel, how much real life history I should disclose, without seeming too offensive to the reader. After reading David Sedaris’ and Augusten Burroughs’ memoirs, I was over that. My history of “show me yours” (which went really badly) and public shrinkage was innocently laughable in comparison. It remains to be the author’s decision, and descretion.

I don't personally know of any self-published authors who have ventured into this field using this method and had expectations of fame and fortune as their destination. They write because they love writing, as do I. That doesn't mean a self-published author can't be successful. That takes time and patience, as well as a few good books for readers to draw upon to get to know a new author. In the meantime keeping fresh material flowing is the thing that keeps such a hopeful writer growing, and eventually widely read.

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g. Michael Handgis Photography


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