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The Die Is Cast
If you want to be an author, writing isn't enough. You've got to publish—a lot.
“If you want to make a career out of this you’ll need to bring out a new book every year. Never go longer than sixteen months without something new because after sixteen months people quit coming in that door asking me if you have another book yet.”
—Bob Maull, Twenty-Third Avenue Books
via Chuck Palahniuk, Consider This: Moments in My Writing Life after Which Everything Was Different
A book a year.
If that’s what it takes, that’s exactly what I’ll do.
I can’t call myself an author if I haven’t published any books, so let’s get at it.
The trouble isn’t the writing, though. Not for me, anyway. I have no problem hammering out words and telling stories.
It’s the editing.
The writer who wrote these stories is gone now. I’m in charge. And I’m a much better writer than the hack who penned these, and now’s my chance to prove it, right?
As much as I’d like to make these stories perfect, I have to let them go.
It’s hard, of course. I’ve learned a lot about the craft since writing them. My skills have evolved, and I’m still learning. I know I can make these stories better. But if the last two weeks tell me anything, aiming for perfection is a fool's errand.
And I know that because, for the past two weeks, I’ve been mauling a single story, and it’s a story people already love.
Torn to shreds and rewritten multiple times only to find I like the original better.
So, how do you know when to step back and say, "This is the best it can be for now"?
The deadline knows.
A book a year, right?
The die is cast.
And what do you know, the holidays are right around the corner.
Gift-giving season solved!
At least for me.
So, with just over 9o shopping days left, we head on over to Reedsy.com and set up our free account. This is where we can write, edit, import, or copy and paste our entire manuscript from Scrivener, Word, Google Docs, or even blog posts straight from our website.
Reedsy maintains all our formatting, photos, and illustrations and automatically typesets our script.
In just a few clicks, our manuscript turns from a sprawling document into something that looks like a real book.
Well, Reedsy also offers a marketplace of freelance editors, designers, and even publicists. But remember, we don't need to aim for perfection here.
Our skills will grow with each book, as will our network of professionals who can help get us where we want to be.
Since most of this work has been professionally edited once, I may opt for a proofreading service or ask a few beta readers to put their eyes on it. But I’m not going to sacrifice progress for perfection.
I’ve fooled around long enough. I have to publish these now to stay on target.
I was never the kid curled up in the corner with his books. Never spent lazy Saturday afternoons lost in the library. Not unless it was for school.
No, I was the kid scaling fences, climbing trees, and creating imaginary worlds in the woods behind my house. My sanctuary was not a quiet room filled with the smell of binding glue and book paper; it was the cacophony of life outside, where scraped knees were the entry fee and wild dreams were the currency.
So when my dad, an avid reader with multiple books, magazines, manuals, and newspapers strewn about the house, saw my nose buried in one of his magazines, he took notice.
“What’s that you’re reading?” he asked with a nod.
“Advertising Age,” I said, flipping the cover for him to see.
“You like that?”
My dad and I didn’t spend a lot of time together when I was growing up.
He was a good man. Smartest man I ever met.
But we were very different.
“He just isn’t sure what to do with you,” Mom would tell me.
My father developed Alzheimer’s in his 70s and passed away when I was only 48.
Those last five to seven years were tough. But they were also an incredible blessing.
Funny thing about Alzheimer’s, your immediate recall vanishes. You no sooner say the word, and it’s gone—like it never happened.
But your distant memories are close at hand. Recalling names, faces, places, and events from your distant past is effortless. Crystal clear with total recall. Like it all just happened yesterday.
I learned more about my dad in those last few years than in all the years preceding. We sat and talked for hours about his boyhood, running the streets in depression-era Detroit, The Purple Gang, where he was Dec 7th, 1941 (Pearl Harbor), and how he fought to survive The Battle of Chosin Reservoir.
At his memorial service, we were surrounded by people who knew him, worked with him, and even folks who’d worked for him throughout the years. He was a really great guy.
Ken Hutchison, a man who’d served with my father in Korea, worked with him in the Credit Union movement in the early 60s, and remained friends with him throughout his life, took me aside after the ceremony, clasped my hand, and said, “You need to know your dad was very proud of you. You need to know that.”
“Thanks, Ken. I appreciate…”
Ken, well into his 80s, pulled me in close. “You and your friends used to ride your skateboards up and down Second Street,” he whispered. “Right outside his office window.”
I smiled and nodded politely. “Yeah, we did. I remember we used to get chewed out pretty good for it, too,” I chuckled.
Ken pulled me closer still.
“Your dad used to say, “Hey Ken. You see that? That right there is the only 11-year-old with a subscription to ‘Advertising Age.’ That kid’s gonna be somebody. He’s going to do something really great.”
I’m working on it, Pop.
I’m working on it.
I love you guys 😊