Malcom Gladwell writes that to become an expert at something, we must spend ten-thousand hours doing it.
As you all know, the thing I want to be good at is writing. It’s a bucket list item for me. I want to write a book that other people enjoy and get as much out of as the truly remarkable books I’ve read in my lifetime. My theory goes like this: I have received so much from great books, it’s my duty to give back. Only problem is, I can’t write so well. Not yet, that is.
So I go at it every day. Even if it’s only a journal entry. I never miss a day of writing something.
I have two books out on Amazon. I consider them my kindergarten books. They’re mostly bits of journal entries, poetry, very short writings.
My next series will be Dream Stories. These are volumes of short stories. I get up in the morning, remember my dreams from the night before, and as I write them down, make a story out of them. It’s a fun process. I see a movie play out in my head, and write as fast as I can to capture as much of it as possible before Poof! the dreams are gone. I don’t know about the rest of you, but my dreams are twisted and sordid and upsetting. They have political meanings and leanings that I don’t even agree with. But then there are the ones that are innocent, and fun. And a whole lot of others that are full of sexual adventure. I like all of them.
I’ve had Dream Stories Volume I ready to go for some time. It just needs the illustrations. The next two manuscripts, Dream Stories Volume II and III, are ready to be made into proofs.
I consider the Dream Stories project to be my books at a third grade level. And it’s a long way from third grade to making a book which truly gives back what I owe.
The secret to getting there, I believe, will be to never give up. Something I’ve trained the little voices in my head to repeat to me over and over. They’re quite obsessive compulsive and do a good job of it.
I’ve noticed, though, it’s easy to keep myself energized when someone says: “I love your book, and your writing style! Are going to publish?” (Yes, I do have a few fans already.)
It’s a little harder when someone says: “The book just didn’t do anything for me.” I’m pretty sure this is a nice way of them saying they thought it was a piece of crap and hated it.
So far no one has made death threats or pummeled me with ripe tomatoes. But I figure those are part of the process, and they will come soon enough. It’s when that happens that I will need to listen most to the little voices in my head: “Don’t give up! That book didn’t work so well, but the next one will really piss them off.”
I wonder what was going through Salman Rushdie’s mind after the Ayatollah Khomeini sentenced him to death in a Fatwa and a significant portion of the Muslim world went looking for him to carry it out? I know this, whatever he was thinking, he kept on writing. And that’s the answer.
I’m expecting two things to happen along the way to my writing the book I want to write, the one which gives back even the smallest part of my debt to the rest of the writers of the world. One, I will make huge mistakes. Two, I have promised myself that I won’t give up till I get it right (and I won’t if my past behavior is any indication of the future).
Naomi sent me a link to a short article with two videos. One by Karen X. Cheng, and one by Ira Glass. The article is Want to Conquer a New Skill? Do It Every Day, by Drake Baer. The gist of what all three are saying is: Quality follows quantity. If you want to do something, and be very good at it, then do it every day, and do as much as you can.
Makes sense to me.