Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Finishing a Book is Like Selling a House. It's All in the Detail.

It's Insecure Writer's Support Group's Monthly Post Day again, Hooray.

For a time I've been mulling over my house situation. I've lived in my beautiful, old timber house with tongue and groove walls for 8 and a half years. The moment I first walked into it as a prospective buyer I knew it would be mine, and I was the first to view it. But the time has come for us to part ways. I'm here on my own now, in a large house on an even larger block of land, 1/4 acre or 1400 square metres of mostly tropical garden which has become too much for me to care for.

Health issues, and gardening, care and upkeep of my paradise mean my paradise is becoming neglected. The decision has been made to hand it over to others for their enjoyment. 

About a month ago I was browsing the local real estate sites, just out of curiosity only, and what do I see but the perfect little 2 bedroom beach side cottage in my price range. I wasn't really looking, but as things happen, so did this and so I deemed it 'meant to be'. I now have a contract to purchase it.

And what, you may ask, has this to do with finishing a book? 

Having decided to go ahead with selling my house and downsizing, I was faced with the need to do a lot of work on my house to bring it up to scratch before selling. I realised the process would be much like what happens after the first draft of a book is finished. I had the body of the work but fine tuning was now required before I could sell a polished product. 

Suddenly I had many glaring faults I needed to fix and this is how it looked.

BOOK                                                                HOUSE
Review draft(s)                                                    Review what to do
Rewrite                                                                Begin jobs eg. patch, paint, clean, clear yard
Edit                                                                      De-clutter
Review and (get) edit until happy                          Finish jobs
Cover                                                                  Flowers in vase, candles
Finished                                                               Finished
Promote                                                               Present  
Sell                                                                      Sell

Writing a first draft can be likened to having lived in a house for any number of years. The first draft is rough and full of superfluous words, and errors, the emphasis being on superfluous. Over the years we gather stuff and display it in our homes. We're comfortable in our own environments and our stuff lies here and there, with often-used items strewn carelessly about without much thought to their placement. But to prime a house and a book for sale, if you want to make the most of what you have, it's all in the detail. A little effort goes a long way.

On the house front the effort has been put in and advertising is about to begin. On the book front, my latest effort, a memoir, is at the "Reviewing until happy" stage. It was so close "Finished" before I spotted the cottage, but now almost seems a distant memory. I was hoping to have it finished this month, but this is the first time in weeks that I've written anything. So, book on the back burner for the time being, again. 

And this is how writing is for many of us. There is life to live, things to take care of and no matter how burning our desire to write and how frustrated we may be sometimes when we can't, we write when we can. I for one become frustrated with slowness of progress, but as I live on my own I have to attend to everything myself. I have to make big decisions myself, and follow through when doubts and fears take hold. 

It's the same with writing. The doubts and fears will always take hold at some point, but I see this as part of what makes us who we are. If you can get through the hesitations and doubts about buying a house, a car, getting married etc, then you can get through to the "Sell" part of your writing journey.

Looking at it this way when I decided to sell my house made me realise that writing really is no easier or harder than many other actions in life. It's another action you take, and then you get on with it.