One thing I am doing too much of is looking out of the window. But we are experiencing some wonderful sunsets. And I have a lake to contemplate.
But I also have a book to write!
How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.
How do you write a book? One word at a time.
Creating a structure
Book coach Alison Jones insisted we start with a very clear structure. To be honest this is how I learned to write essays at school and college, and I find it works well for speech making too. The better the structure, the easier the task. So although a book is just one word after another you need an overview first.
It took me weeks to create my Table of Contents. But once I had slotted all the words in, I wasn’t happy with the structure! I had used up my best blog posts, edited them and made them read well, but the whole book lacked a proper flow. Nick and Gus read it and felt it was bitty – too many vignettes, not enough narrative.
I spent a few nights sleeping on it, and redesigned the structure. At first this felt a bit upsetting – I had, after all, done weeks of work.
I feel the simplified approach is much stronger. And, since I have been knitting, I have got used to ripping back unsatisfactory work. You soon forget the hours invested when the second version is so much stronger.
Table of Contents
- Fashion and Style
- Creative environment
- THANK YOUS
Of course I cannot stick to writing all the time – two or three hours a day and I am pooped – so I have been making a crochet skirt for Esme. She chose deep, wine red for the background colour.
As I was short of yarn I tried to order more. Without telling me Love Knitting tried twice to pass off purple instead of maroon. First time I thought I had ordered wrong. Second time they admitted they had no maroon left. If I had crochet up the purple without checking I would be furious. Also they had sold me short – one ball less than I paid for, on two occasions. When challenged they gave me a refund, but I don’t expect to have check an order. I rely on honesty and was pretty cross. I am waiting for a consignment of maroon to come in.
As I have had some poor service from this company before I tried a different company, suggested by Grace. It is Zarela, and sells via eBay. I ordered some materials so Esme can make a blanket for her friends baby-to-be, and the order was fast, accurate and cheaper than Love Knitting.
Back to the book….
I am setting a deadline (and now making it public)
An elephant is not just a supply of calories. It needs to killed, butchered, frozen, cooked, and actually the worst thing about eating an elephant is that it would take a very long time. The average American could eat one if she ate no other meat for 40 years, but the average Brit would need 60. I am hoping this book will take less time than that! It is more like eating a sheep, I guess.
I have set a time-table and a deadline. This book is going to be finished by 1 April 2018. That coincides with my birthday (end of March), the new financial year, and hopefully the achievement of the merger I have been working for. And of course Easter itself! The printing will take a little time but I plan to be done with making the book by then. I realise (and this is the scariest bit) it will need to be marketed and sold. I don’t want a pile of expensive books in the garage – but that is a plan for another day.
I am currently starting on my second draft, with an editorial review by Alison planned for 12 January. Then I will spend the next three months, Quarter 4, 1 January to 31 March producing all the visuals. This is more challenging than writing the book! Designing the book, taking photographs and collating material from others (I am really keen on a few stories, photographs or drawings from you!). This three months also gives me time for further rewriting, once I have had advice from Alison. I think that is the key to making the book the best it can be. My motto for the next three months is:
Get it down, then re-write, re-write it again. Then rewrite it, re-write and then re-write some more
I know from my blog that I write a bit too much like I talk (and I am guilty of talking too much too!). My average blog post is around 1000 words and the average section in my book is only 500. Good writing is much more precise and it needs less and better words, more variety and life.
Luckily Nick is sustaining me with hot soup and home-made bread.
Pretty exciting–and a very ambitious timeline! I agree that a well-thought out plan, subject to revision, is the best approach to writing, and to so much else of life. You’re on your way! (And time for sunsets is time well-spent in my opinion:))
That’s quite a punishing set of deadlines on top of the merger but if anyone can do it…. I’m intrigued, given your successful career and your ability to juggle the demands of that with family and a very full personal life, that work or time management isn’t in the mix? Maybe because you are mid stream it’s all to sensitive or maybe that’s for book 2!
I have had a few days off over Christmas with nothing too much to do, so I am making progress. I did have a section on time management but I took it out.
Looking forward to hearing how the book is shaping up, and the end of March is my birthday too, so your book will be a treat for me. I would like to produce a family cookbook with memories this year, so it’s been helpful seeing how you are going to structure your book.
Great idea. Modern technology allows you to just print a few (print on demand) even if it is not a commercial venture. One person I know was so tired of her kids asking her for recipes that she made a beautiful recipe book and gave it to them all, their partners and her friends. I got one. It also told interesting family stories. I hope you consider it Ruth – such a nice heirloom.
I think your new structure is more logical, and will be easier for the reader to find her way around. Please keep us posted on how it’s going.
I suspect the time devoted to looking at that lovely lake is very refreshing and recharging.
How delightful to see the progress. And three cheers for Nick! Being supplied with soup and fresh bread is bound to keep your spirits up and your editing smooth.