Making your book dream a reality

 

Sometimes it seems like every­one I talk to wants to write a book. I’ve lost count of the num­ber of people who’ve told me they have a great idea; all they need is the time, mo­tiv­a­tion, a new laptop or some oth­er little thing that will al­low them to cre­ate the next best­selling nov­el or the defin­it­ive world history.

And, you know, some of the ideas I hear would make good books. So why haven’t they been writ­ten? Motivation is a primary reas­on, I’m sure. It’s hard to get up an hour early or to skip your fa­vour­ite TV pro­gram to work on a ma­nu­script. But some people do it. What gives them the will to park them­selves in front of their key­board and write in­stead of just talk­ing or dream­ing about it?

For most folks there’s a de­fin­ing mo­ment when they de­cide to go for it and do their best to be­come a pub­lished au­thor. A couple of years ago Chevy Stevens (the pen name of Rene Unischewski) was work­ing as a real es­tate agent in Nanaimo. But she wanted to write a book. 

I figured if I was go­ing to do it, now would be the time,” she said in an in­ter­view with the Nanaimo Daily News. “It’s a lot harder years later, es­pe­cially if you’re mar­ried and have children.”

So Chevy quit her job, sold her house and lived off her sav­ings for two years. When she’d writ­ten the best nov­el she could, she hired a pro­fes­sion­al ed­it­or to help her make it even better.

Stevens was will­ing to take some big risks but they res­ul­ted in an agent, a con­tract and a book that made the New York Times Bestseller List and is cur­rently op­tioned for a movie.

For Comox Valley res­id­ent, Harold Macy, it was dif­fer­ent. He’s writ­ten scores of short stor­ies and won nu­mer­ous awards for them. But he wanted to write a book.

About six years ago he began a fiction/​nonfiction hy­brid based on his ex­per­i­ences as a for­est­er. He’d write and re­write and, on oc­ca­sion, take his ma­nu­script to work­shops to get feed­back and hone his craft.

Eventually Harold knew his ma­nu­script was as ready as it would ever be. He also knew he’d be 65 soon and wanted his book pub­lished soon­er rather than later. So he in­vest­ig­ated his op­tions and de­cided to self-pub­lish. The Four Storey Forest, which in­cludes a dust jack­et blurb from award-win­ning au­thor Jack Hodgins, is sched­uled for re­lease this May.

I met Harold 25 years ago at a writ­ing re­treat at Strathcona Park Lodge. That was my wa­ter­shed mo­ment. I’d had a few arti­cles pub­lished but, like every­one else, I wanted to write a book.

Getting away from the ob­lig­a­tions and dis­trac­tions of daily life and spend­ing time with like-minded people opened my mind to the pos­sib­il­it­ies of what I could do — if I was pre­pared to work at it. And re­ceiv­ing feed­back from pub­lished au­thor, Bill Valgardson, was invaluable.

What did you do – or what will it take for you — to make your book dream a reality?

One Reply to “Making your book dream a reality”

  1. Motivation, that’s it! the cata­lyst that sep­ar­ates the writer from the wan­nabe that nev­er seems to get around to it and per­haps nev­er will. But how does one ob­tain this key in­gredi­ent? Well, like Harold Macy has for BC forestry is­sues, it’s a pas­sion for one’s sub­ject. And for me per­son­ally I’ve al­ways been very ob­sess­ive with my in­terests in West Coast re­gion­al and mari­time his­tory. When, say, I’m onto an over­looked ship­wreck story, I find my­self pos­sessed and not sat­is­fied un­til I’ve fer­reted out every pos­sible re­search lead and de­tail be­fore ac­tu­ally get­ting down to writ­ing the story.
    This single minded­ness sup­plies more than enough mo­tiv­a­tion but it also provides an­oth­er be­ne­fit: fo­cus and the abil­ity to stick to one top­ic. Having said that, I really haven’t had that many re­jec­tions. Sharp minded ed­it­ors are quick to pick up on your pas­sion but, most of all, abil­ity to not wander off from the theme of the story…

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