Over Thanksgiving, as there was much chatter about the book deal, one of my cousins asked me about the writing process. How do you go about writing a book, he asked. Of course I had to clarify if he meant the whole business part of securing an agent, then a publisher, coming up with a marketing platform and so on, or if he meant the actual writing of the book. He meant the actual writing part.
Indeed, it seems everyone has a great idea for a book, but it’s just that damn writing part that is so difficult to get around. Well, I am in the midst of writing my first book, so I am no expert. But I can say for myself that writing rarely involves some mystical moment where inspiration wells from my inner soul and on to the paper—or in this case the laptop screen.
As far as I can tell, there is no secret to writing. You just have to write, edit and rewrite, over and over again, until you get it the way you want it. Of course, there are those virtuosos that crank out pages of brilliance in minutes, but they are rare. And I assure you, for the most part, the thousands of writers out there right now hacking away at their keyboards are not tapped into some great spirit of composition.
I like the Philip Roth approach. I write and rewrite every day. It is hard. It takes time. But eventually you figure out what you want to say and the perfect way to say it. And for many writers that achievement gives greater satisfaction than publication, as it should.