The worst part of writing a book

I really like writ­ing books but there’s one part I hate. And it sneaks up on me every time.

After hav­ing sev­er­al books pub­lished, you’d think I’d learn. But nope, there seems to be a big blank spot in my memory about writ­ing a non­fic­tion book.

It’s an ugly, nasty, teeth-gnash­ing phase so no won­der I for­get it. In fact, the only time I think about it, is when I’m right in the middle of it. Which is where I am right now.

I refer to it as the @#$*! stage of writ­ing a book. Some folks call it the first draft.

No, this is­n’t me. But this is how I of­ten feel when I’m in the @#&%! stage of writ­ing a book.

This is where I have to take all my re­search and put it into some sort of co­hes­ive or­der. That means de­cid­ing what goes in what chapter – and worst of all – de­cid­ing what’s in­cluded and what gets left out.

I know from past ex­per­i­ence that in­triguing facts and fas­cin­at­ing an­ec­dotes will be cut due to the con­straints of space and in the in­terests of flow. I can deal with that. It’s just all the de­cisions I need to make right now. Hours are spent star­ing at the com­puter screen, shift­ing text here and there and mut­ter­ing away. By the end of the day I swear my brain is sweating.

Sometimes I think of this stage of a book like go­ing for a long walk in a forest. There are many trails to take, each of­fer­ing dif­fer­ent ex­per­i­ences, some more ex­cit­ing or chal­len­ging than others.

On rough days I liken it to climb­ing a rock face. Concentrating and know­ing where to put my feet and hands (or facts and an­ec­dotes) is crit­ic­al. At times the top of the moun­tain seems im­possibly far away.

Once in a while I won­der why the heck I’m do­ing this. But a glance down tells me I’m closer to the top than the bot­tom. And I know when I reach the sum­mit, I’ll for­get all about the @#$*! stage of writ­ing a book again.

So I keep climb­ing. Writing my book one chapter, one para­graph, one word at a time.