How’s the book going, they ask me.
They always ask me that: how’s the book going. I shouldn’t’ve mentioned it in the first place. Now everyone just wants to know how the book is going all the time. It’s fine, you can keep asking me, I like the attention, I love that you care, it’s me, not you, it’s just that lately, it feels like I’m making excuses for why my homework is late.
It’s slow. Fine. Hard. Great. I’m curious. I’m doubtful. I’m unmotivated. I’m making progress. What do you want to hear? I’m done—no, no, not done, done, but I mean, I’m done with it; I need to find an editor. I mean, I sort of have one, she’s going to consult—but this isn’t editing editing, it’s like, pre-editing—she’s going to evaluate… anyway, I haven’t even heard what she thinks yet.
Here’s a thing I know: publishing is expensive. I ask around and I crunch numbers and every calculator spits out the same quote: expensive. It’s so expensive it’s funny. It’s not close enough to reality to worry me. And at the same time, I also consider it done: it’ll come together, it has before. It’s so expensive it’s a nonissue.
And besides, a year ago, I didn’t understand how I’d ever finish a manuscript, iron it out, share it with beta readers, send it off to an editor. But I did all that: In Spain, I dreamed I’d go home, work as a barista, and write all day, and I went and did that. It has been very good.
But my book might not be very good. Book might suck.
They say that a nonfiction memoir by an unknown writer is about the least lucrative thing you can produce. No self-help in there, no bullet points? Oh, and it’s Christian, but not Christian enough for the Christians and too Christian for the nonbelievers? It won’t sell, baby. Hopefully you don’t want to sell it. Hopefully you just want to share it with your family and give it away after church. Hopefully you just wanna pad your resume. Hopefully you’re just doing this to process. Hopefully you know that writing is your therapy, not your career.
And if you think it is your career, then honey, you better have a platform. You better have an audience. You better market yourself. You better be on podcasts. You better do SEO. You better post at the right time of day. You better stop being a weirdo on Instagram. You better have posters. You better be pounding the pavement.
You better post blogs all the time so everyone knows who you are so they donate to a Kickstarter so you can afford to sell them books. You better post three blogs a week. You better make them short and add pictures. You better add bullet points because people don’t read paragraphs anymore unless it’s the weekend. And each blog better be better than the one before.
Do you have your own domain name yet? You need a domain. You need to upgrade that free WordPress site or no one’s gonna read you. People who don’t have their own websites are nobodies. Your name already is taken by another millennial writer so you’ll have to figure something out: maybe add a middle initial. But don’t make it too long. It needs to be memorable. Easy to spell. Don’t get too cute about it but be charming.
And if that book is going to be any good, it needs a title. What, are you gonna call it, My Book? Get it together. You have to work harder and brainstorm more.
You should work on yourself too. That way, people will want a whole book of you. Are you a character? You should work on your personality so that when people see you at the coffee shop or choir practice or Trader Joe’s they’ll come away thinking, “NOW THAT WAS A CHARACTER.” You should get more charisma. You should be funnier. You shouldn’t care what anyone thinks so everyone will like you. Get more writerly but don’t start smoking. Have the aura of someone with lots of vices but be able to do a pull up and the PCT. You should be more interesting. You should look good without makeup. You should be keto or vegan. You should go to grad school. You should pray more. You should be intriguing. You should make more prolonged eye contact. You should be wittier. You should be more eccentric. But more approachable. You need to be quite the character if you want to sell a book.
You have to spend 10,000 hours so you’ll be impressive, but you have to do it faster so you’ll be efficient.
If writing My Book once was being in love, now it is loving.
I mean it used to be fiery and involuntary and tender. Now it’s boring and tough and disorienting. But I’m here. I’m doing it. I’ve been doing it for over a year and I’m going to keep doing it. I’m doing it well. If I don’t seem passionate about the book, either check back later or observe my wordless actions. Observe my head bowed in faithful concentration. Observe that I don’t care how it’s going. I care that it’s going.
Anyway, a blog on my free WordPress site. This has been a litany of the lies and half-truths I bet a lot of people fall prey to. Hopefully it’s relatable, ‘cause then, boom: platform.