“I should write a book.” That’s what I thought to myself back in April of 1993. “A real book,” I added, as I had, at the time, just finished writing a four-hundred page technical manual. I had never really thought about writing before that moment. But something about watching the printer disgorge copies of that massive tome made me think, “I should write a book.”
It was a great idea, this whole book-writing thing, except for two small problems: 1) I didn’t actually have an idea for a story; and 2) I didn’t actually have an idea for a story. Yes, I realize I listed the same problem twice. But it seemed like such an important one that it was worth repeating.
Fortunately in the years since, I actually have come up with some story ideas. Quite a few actually and one or two of them with real potential. Unfortunately, I still have two small problems: 1) simply having an idea for a story doesn’t mean you know how to properly tell that story; and 2) simply having an idea for . . . oh, you get the picture.
I used to naively think that being a good writer meant you could write good no matter what the subject. But there’s definitely a difference between writing and storytelling. If you’re a good storyteller, the world will forgive you for being a mediocre writer. But if you’re a bad storyteller, no amount of mad prose skillz will engage an audience.
Heck, I should write a book about writing a book. I’ve certainly pondered the topic long enough now. And I’d be good at it too because there wouldn’t be a pesky storyline in there to slow me down. There are just two small problems with this idea: 1) I already have half a dozen other ideas lined up ahead of this one; and 2) no one would read a book about writing by a writer who hasn’t written anything yet. (No, blog posts and non-fiction books don’t count.)
Anyway, what’s the point of all this whining? Well, we’re nearly upon book-writing season again and I need to decide what to do. That’s where you, my dozen dedicated fans, come in. You get to vote on what my next incomplete project will be. Here are the choices:
Another Diet Book. I could certainly come up with a sequel to my last one. No end of material on this topic. Pros: Write what you know. Cons: Unoriginal.
Cancer Book. This would be just like the weight loss book, but more depressing. Pros: Write what you know. Cons: More depressing.
Winter’s Gate. Working title for a science fiction story about a seventeen-year-old girl who tries to find her father who disappeared eight years earlier. You won’t believe what 14 things happen to her! #6 shocked me!!! Pros: This one has potential. Cons: Not sure I’m ready to tackle this one again just yet.
Elsewhither. A twelve-year-old orphan girl in 1864 decides to dig a hole to Australia. She fails at a depth of eight inches. But what happens next will shock you!!! Pros: This is the story I think about almost constantly. Cons: I have about three months of backstory development ahead of me before I can tackle the main story again.
Ronald. A young author in the year 2020 can’t get his manuscript published. He’s then given the opportunity to travel back in time thirty years to give it a shot then. WHAT HAPPENS NEXT WILL SHOCK YOU. Pros: This one’s quite a bit different from the others I’ve pondered. And I like that. Cons: I have tons more research to do before this one is plausible. Work is hard.
So those are the candidates. Cast your vote below and choose wisely. Remember, the future of the publishing industry is in your hands.