Mommy A to Z

Motherhood, Alphabetized.

T is for . . . The Top 5 Things I Learned About Writing a Book

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As some of you know, for years I worked at a publishing house as an acquisitions editor. I evaluated all sorts of book proposals (including one by an author who claimed his was the only book of its kind written by someone resurrected from the dead). I sat across the desk from dozens of authors, helping them to develop their ideas, fix their grammar, and create something they could be proud to pressure their friends and family into buying. And so, when it came time to write my own book, I thought, How hard can it be? Well, it turns out I had a lot to learn on this side of the desk. In honor of the publication of my first book, Mommy A to Z (on sale June 2), here is a list of the top 5 things I’ve learned about putting one’s (sort of) brilliant thoughts into book form.

1. Creativity can be exhausting. Yes, I had lots of ideas, and at times my words burst forth in majestic streams, like rising fountains at the Bellagio. However, much like at the real Bellagio, inside my head were lots of gambles that weren’t paying off — cheesy comedy (exhibit A), awkward metaphors, anecdotes about which I was already apologetically mumbling, “I guess you had to be there.” It felt like I spent hours rewriting each page I wrote, until I was too worn out to do anything at the end of the day except watch The Walking Dead on Netflix. (Apparently, battling a dangling participle is much less exhausting than battling zombies.)

2. Mommy’s busy. So what? Turns out that toddlers and preschoolers don’t really care about book authorship. Yes, I may have had a stroke of genius in need of instant immortalization. Too bad. My daughter wants string cheese, and she wants it N-O-W! My son doesn’t care that Mommy has planned a post-bedtime write-a-thon. He is convinced his crib sheet is out to get him, he needs comforting right away. The truth is that, unless you have an office in Siberia and some pretty solid childcare, writing a book can often feel like an illicit activity, to be sneaked in between the real work of life.

3. Suddenly I’m that girl. Even after years of working with text for a living, I found myself needing constant reassurance. Each time I read my work to my family or friends, there I was, waiting on the edge of my seat for the tiniest compliment. In my desperation to be loved, “it doesn’t suck” became the ultimate validation of my worth. Self-confidence goes out the window when you put your creative vision out there.

4. Everyone else is doing it. When you tell people you’re writing a book, you suddenly discover that everyone has a half-written manuscript lurking on his or her laptop. Your Great Aunt Alice is writing her memoirs. Your colleague who never speaks is penning a novel he describes as “post-Apocalyptic cyborg erotica.” This can be daunting. Is your story special? Is everyone further along than you? Do they know something you don’t? Probably. But they don’t know your story, and you’re the only one who can tell it. Even if it doesn’t involve cyborgs getting frisky.

5. Writing is a long, long process. And it takes a long time. Okay, people who spend years writing a book are probably spending way too much time watching dancing kittens on YouTube. But a finished book doesn’t happen overnight. It generally takes constant work, every day, for months. That said, it was work that I loved, that was meaningful, and that, one day, will probably embarrass my kids. I can’t think of too many better investments of my time.

While I saw a lot of manuscripts as an editor, I rarely got a glimpse at the obstacles, hard work, and small victories that went into creating them. Now, having written my first book, I’ve looked behind the curtain. No, it’s not always pretty, but the writing process is rewarding, exhausting, and, in the end, culminates in a pretty big accomplishment — even if you do end up begging your friends and family to buy it.

The Mommy A to Z eBook goes on sale June 2. Check out the Mommy A to Z website, featuring excerpts, links to buy the book, and more. And visit the Mommy A to Z Facebook page and Twitter for updates, contests, and more!

 

 

 

50 Comments

  1. I can really identify with this, thank you for sharing :-)

  2. As long as the begging pays off…….

    When is the next book coming out?

  3. Thanks for your insight. I am not sure if I will ever write a book. I have an idea for one but every time I start it, I get distracted and I don’t even have kids yet. I wish you much success and I am sure it is wonderful!!

  4. I admire writers. I came close to writing an ebook and talked myself out of it. SO much work to put together a good quality book.

    • Very true! I’ve worked with writers (as an editor) for years, and so many of them are constantly surprised by the amount of time involved…not just in the initial writing, but in revising. It’s a process! Thanks for the comment :)

  5. I work from home and the kids have a hard time with that sometimes.

    • I hear that! My toddler is constantly trying to climb on top of the computer while I’m working on it. Finally I decided a babysitter for a few hours each day is the way to go. Makes everyone happier!

  6. I always been debating on writing a book- well at least an ebook. But my busy schedule and feeling like the book wouldn’t do well always holds me back. Thank you for your insights about writing a book.

  7. congratulations meredith!!!
    i totally agree that the creative process can be exhausting, yet more rewarding, so it’s worth it!
    i also wonder part of it is we have to work at it without expecting anything in return!

  8. Meridith———–you are marvelous and so is your writing.
    It is always interesting ,informative and never boring. Why,
    I had to look up the real Bellagio in Wikipedia to compare the fake one that is 5 minutes from me . Really interesting.
    I read every post and find your writing has a nice flow and
    your observations are spot on. Most importantly ,I hope legions of others pick up on your talent and efforts .

  9. God bless you for doing this – i think it’s wonderful! 😀

  10. Congrats on being published! I wrote a cookbook for young adults that has been collecting dust for forever. I think finding a publisher you can trust is a hard part of the process…that’s where I got stuck.

    • I found a publisher I trust completely…myself! I may go with a traditional publisher eventually, but right now I’m really enjoying the self-publishing process. Thanks for the comment!

  11. It is an exhausting en devour.. the thought process alone can make it feel like hours instead of minutes..

  12. I have a secret desire to write a book but it sounds like an exhausting process. I am in awe of people that do it.

  13. Now that you are published the editor that is you can be proud of the writer that is you! Much success!

  14. Oh, thank you for this! having just chosen to try to make my writing passion into a career this year, I feel like “that girl” a lot! And my kids don’t know what hit them. I’ve been trying to keep the transitions smooth for them, but not being able to leave work AT work is a big change for us all. And not having constant, measurable results (aside from “how many followers does my blog have this week?) can make me a little needy. Nice to know that it’s all part of the process! So glad you accomplished your goal AND share the stories with us!

    • Thank you! Yes, the kids don’t really care too much about eBooks or blogging, which can make it difficult when Mommy is busy writing something again, instead of playing with a random rubber band on the floor with them. But I like to think it’s all worth it in the end. I hope! Good luck with the new writing career! Sounds exciting!

  15. Besides motherhood, writing is truly my biggest passion. I can relate to the writing, publishing, and marketing process, since I work with authors in all those areas. It takes time, effort, energy, and money, but the investment is truly worth it. Every time I write a new book, it’s like a new birth. My daughters are publishing their first book together and I can’t wait to see their book at the book store. That will combine my two passions! Congratulations and I am looking forward to reading your book.

  16. In this era of computers and ease of submissions, it stands to reason that a lot more people are writing books. With the self-publishing option out there as well, the numbers increase even more.

  17. I’ve been trying to write forever and cannot seem to finish anything. You are so right – it is a LONG process.

  18. Great insight! It must feel so good to be getting ready to launch you book! How cool!!!

  19. LOL…yeah mom’s busy never works. I have a six year old and mommy’s busy, sleep or sick doesn’t seem to register.

  20. Congratulations on this big accomplishment! I’ve had a couple of other blogger friends who have written E Books and had success. I wish you the same! I love your blog, so I suspect your book will do wonderfully. :) XOXO-Kasey

  21. Thanks, Kasey! I really appreciate your encouragement and support! I love your blog too :) – Meredith

  22. Congrats on writing your book! Thank you for stoping by and linking up at the TGIF hop! Hope to see you again!

    Three Sisters and us.
    Kaitlyn

  23. I would like to read Mommy A to Z to my kids. It sound great!

  24. Congrats on the book! I am going to buy and read it!

  25. Pingback: Interview with Meredith Peters Hale, author of Mommy A to Z. | Busy Moms Write

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