Tuesday, April 19, 2011

It's Only A Book

I took the photo at a local bookstore. Like so many others, time and change took its toll on the bookstore.  Take a good look at this photograph and think, as I did when I took it, about how much work had been put into the books stacked on these tables and in the floor, offered at 80% off.

Each book represents a block of time taken from a writer's life and, maybe, a little bit of their soul.  That brings me to the motto, “It’s Only A Book”.

 It’s a humble little motto that I ran across a writing article years ago. The article was about putting writing in the proper perspective.  Sorta like Don't Sweat The Small Stuff  for Writers. 

Since writers easily forget to keep things in perspective, I'm sharing some of my thoughts on "it's only a book". 

When you have been stabbed in the heart by a rejection letter or a bad review, remember that is part of being a writer. Every writer has to face the cold reality that their baby will not be loved by everyone. But, maybe, it will be loved by someone.  Either way, it is only a book.  Quit dwelling.  There’s always the next one...You need to get started on it now.

When you don’t make time to write, regardless of your circumstances, and when you sacrifice writing time to do other things, then “It’s only a book” is great mantra.  But, it’s only a book does not apply in this situation because writing is not your priority.  For you, it’s only a dream. One you will never realize.

When you are caught up in the "it has to be perfect" trap, remember it’s only a book. It will never be perfect and it doesn’t have to be. Stephen King said the road to hell was paved with adverbs. JK Rowling has an adverb in every sentence (almost).  Hello!!   Write it your way and it’ll be perfect. 

And for those who are so busy networking they can't get their book written:  Get off the workshop/conference/meeting train if you are spending more time socializing than writing.  A great article along this line can be found here: http://thehappywriter.com/craft/searching-for-hope/.  It is only a book if you get it finished.

This leads me to when you have revised continuously because you are trying to please your critique partners, or worse, if you have QUIT writing because of a critique group (and I know of writers who fit in these categories). You need to suck it up and submit.  What's the worst thing that can happen?  You might sell and actually have a published book that may someday end up at a yard sale with a bright orange 25 cent sticker on it.  Stop suffering over your words.  See photograph above when your confidence lags or even when your ego is over-inflated.

Getting published comes with a set of different problems but problems nonetheless.  A contract is not a magic wand that wipes away all your writer angst.  After all, it is only a book.  Not CPR.  It’s not gonna save you from yourself.  You are not going to die if your book never sells and you are not going to bask in a continuous glow if it does.  That’s not how a writer’s life works.

That being said, on a bad day, print out the above photo and tape it up near your workspace so you never forget it’s only a book.  I would suggest also drawing a smiley face on it......

Patricia Preston


Taryn Kincaid said...

Words to remember!

Wendy Soliman said...

Yes, it is only a book but it's also so much more than that. Only writers who aren't totally dedicated will give up because of a bad review, (and I should know!). The rules are there for most of us but when you're J K Rowling you can do as you please. Oh, and don't get me started on writers who overuse exclamation marks.

Donna said...

Well said Patricia!
Happy day to you!

Anonymous said...

Great post. You are gonna die when you see what I have packed! OMG!

It's only a book!!!!!

Susanna Fraser said...

A very wise post, Patricia!

Patricia Preston said...

I don't know that I'm wise. I really need to listen to myself. LOL. It was inspired by a writer's meeting this weekend and I didn't really didn't have time to come up with a post on a historical subject.

Katherine Bone said...

Patricia, this post really puts things in perspective! It is only a book that the world will love. Our books are our babies but if we don't send them out, they will never get published.

Thanks for the inspiration! ;)

Reina said...

I'm glad you posted this, Patricia! Words I need to hear right now...first the book must please the writer and it's not life. :)