Figured I'd go ahead and blog this morning before I get too tired and the kids get up and I remember I need to wash the dishes. I had some ideas yesterday that I wanted to blog about but didn't get around to it, and then I thought about these ideas throughout the night at work. But for some reason, as I'm sitting down to write this post, I'm having a difficult time expressing my thoughts in words. Who knows, maybe I've been working third shift for too long and it's catching up to me. Please bear with me as I try to hash it all out.
I've had a desire to write a book since I was in college. That was about 14 years ago. Now this desire didn't come from some grand epiphany I had. Rather, it grew over the years to a point that last year I started writing short stories. I tried to establish a routine for my writing, but alas, I came up with a million different excuses as to why I couldn't write for that day. I'm tired. The kids kept me busy. I've got too much to do around the house. This movie looks really good. And on and on my excuses went. If any of you need an excuse, let me know and I'll let you have one of mine.
Needless to say, I began to get very frustrated and reached the point that I just stopped writing. It wasn't a conscious decision, it just happened. After a while, I figured I just didn't have the fire inside me to follow through with it. My frustration level grew.
At the time I started writing, my reading increased. After all, I'd read advice from numerous authors saying a good writer reads a lot. In the past, I maybe read five to ten books a year. Last year I read 46 books. This year I've read 58 books, so far. Reading became my passion (or obsession, if you ask my wife). I now almost always have a book within arm's reach of me. And the thing is, I'm a fairly slow reader. Sure, I've improved some over the last couple of years, but it still takes me a while to get through a book. So that number of books I've read indicates a significant amount of time invested on my part. It seems that I'd found my passion, my fire inside. Right?
Well, not exactly. I still had some discontent inside me, a feeling of being unfulfilled somehow. I wanted to do more than just read a book. I wanted to be a part of creating one. The creation of something is important to me. It gives me that warm fuzzy feeling all over. But with my passion for consuming books and my lack of drive for writing them, it didn't seem creating would be in my future. So I resigned myself to being a consumer.
Then one day I came across a blog post by one* of my favorite authors. He was looking for some pre-readers to give some of his books a whirl before he releases them, to help get the bugs out. I jumped on this opportunity because, come on, I would get to read books by a great author before others do. What was not to like? So I sent him an email and he promptly sent me a book he was going to release shortly. He ended his email response by saying, "Be tough."
Be tough? Really? Did he really know what he was telling me? He probably should've talked to my wife before he typed that command to me. See, I'm a bit of a perfectionist. I'm my own worst critic. I could probably be described as anal at times. Did he really want me to be tough? Did I have it in me to point out errors in this author's work? After all, he is one of my favorites and I didn't want him hating me. Seemed I had a dilemma.
I didn't know know exactly how I would handle this dilemma, so I did what I do best. I read. As I read, I found a typo here; a misspelling there; a minor inconsistency over yonder. My dilemma became a little tougher. But after a little thinking, I decided to shoot the author an email with the things I found. Besides, he asked for it. After clicking the send button, I anxiously awaited his response. Figured it'd be something along the lines of "Get a life, dude."
But he didn't say that. Instead, he thanked me and said he'd take a look at the suggestions I'd sent him. That wasn't so bad. So as I continued reading, I sent him any other suggestions I had. I guessed that he would tire quickly of me. But one of his emails said something along the lines of "Hey, you're pretty good at this." Hmm. I know he meant it as one, but I didn't know if that was a compliment or not. The ability to find flaws in something is not normally an endearing quality. Most folks can't stand people like that. Heck, I can't stand people like that.
However, the little hamster in my head jumped on its wheel and started running. I'm pretty good at this. I'm helping a person I esteem to make his creation better. Hey, wait a minute. Creation. Create. Hmm.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying I'm creating anything for this author. But I am helping him with his creation, to make it better. I liked that and it gave me a sense of fulfillment. The author mentioned copyediting and told me that with a little practice I might be able to do something with it. Hmm.
Well, I've taken his advice and I am getting some practice. I've proofed three books so far and am working on my fourth. And the crazy thing is, I'm enjoying the heck out of this. Don't know what that says about me, that I enjoy finding flaws. But I don't see it that way; I see it as helping someone make their creation better.
I still would like to try my hand at writing a book one day. One day, just not today. And I don't know how things will work out with copyediting. Who knows, I may tire of being nit-picky after the fifth book I proof. But I don't think so. It seems I'm onto something here. It definitely has kindled something inside me. Time shall tell.
If you've made it this far, I thank you for putting up with my rambling, incoherent thoughts. I know I probably wouldn't have made it this far. I would have probably thought, what is wrong with this guy? He needs to get a life! But this post has been quite helpful to me, so that makes it worthwhile in my mind. And that's all that counts. Right?
*I didn't name the author because I haven't asked his permission to talk about our correspondence.