Useless Information, Item no. 437: Blog versus book writing

Midlife Sentence - Writing a Book

A little trivia about this blog:

  • It started as family travel journal. Turns out, when you take a couple of kids around the world, you may leave grandparents skittish about the lack of daily contact, even if they weren’t terribly helicopter-y before you talked about getting on a plane.
  • It morphed into a sort of therapeutic confession of my parental shortcomings.
  • It may have been envisioned, at one time, as a book platform.
  • Most days it’s just me, procrastinating. Because sometimes more substantial writing projects are hard and kind of a drag and there’s a lot of self-doubt and introspection and who needs that kind of garbage, anyway?

Me. I need that kind of garbage. I’ve been neglecting this blog because I’m working on something else. I’ll bet you haven’t guessed, either, but it rhymes with …. with look and …. and hook.

… And that ‘something else’ may never see the light of day, which is hard for a blogger who’s used to immediate feedback regardless of how much whatever I’ve written stinks to high heaven.

So today, I’m back on the blog, taking a breather from 74,000 words of what could be the worst crap ever typed on a keyboard, to hold forth on this thing I’ve now done exactly one time, and not entirely to completion, and on which I am nevertheless an expert.

Ahem … blog versus book: a comparison.

How long does it take?

A post could take a few minutes to a few hours or more, depending upon inspiration and the number of interruptions from people wondering if there’s dinner, or if tonight’s one of those every-man-for-himself nights which will probably run us completely out of cereal.

A year. Two years. A decade. The creative process takes what it takes, people. And that’s just the writing. Then there’s the editing, the work shopping, and all the stuff involved with getting the thing to publication. That is, unless you’re Stephen King and can churn something out every twenty-seven seconds. I’m pretty sure at some point that guy’s books started going right from his brain to the shelf.

What’s the process?

There’s an idea, around which other ideas cluster, and then a theme emerges. Rarely does a single funny comment or observation make for a blog. Someone may say to me “hey, did you know it’s National Noodle Ring Day? You should write about that!” I’ll smile and say “Yeah, that’s weird,” but I’m thinking: stop bossing me around.

But then, I notice my husband’s wearing a glob of lunch on his shirt, and one of my kids is putting an olive on every finger at dinner, and I’ve got a crumb of something stuck in my hair, and then I remember there’s a national day devoted to pasta jewelry, and the universe must be aligned with the wearing of foodstuffs, and then that’s a blog. An incredibly inane blog, but let’s face it, nobody’s got delusions of Pulitzers around here.

There’s that spark of inspiration. An idea starts to spin and build mass. And then, the development process. With fiction: who are the characters and what is the setting? What’s the conflict? What’s everyone wearing? What’s with the dog?

After that, there’s the outlining and research, followed by starting and stopping, agonizing self doubt, cursing the gods and all that is holy, boredom, self doubt, determination, deciding to scrap the whole thing, picking it up again, forgetting where I left off and having to read through the whole thing, thinking “hey this is okay,” another burst of inspiration, changing of major plot points, scrapping everything and starting the whole thing over again…

And that’s just the writing part, about .5% of the whole project.

What happens next?

Hit “publish” and share it on social media. Here there’s homework. Pins should be interesting, with the right mix of copy-to-image to draw your reader. Red-toned images get more clicks, and other random things you’re not to question. Study your analytics. Facebook’s good midday, Twitter in the evenings. You can tweet several times daily, but post only once. Google + is mostly dead, but give it a shot.

Do all of this and then watch your stats hover around mediocre as you hope someone shares or comments and then you can celebrate having written something worthy. Eat an entire pint of sorbet while you think about what a needy, little wretch you’ve become.

Writing a Book
Pitch an agent at a conference. Email her your first 20,000 words. Pray. Or find another agent who specializes in your genre. Pitch that person. Get rejected. Repeat over and over until you die, or one day find someone who will work with you. After that, I don’t know what happens. I think there’s a goat sacrifice involved.

Or you could go the self-publishing route and get the book out faster. From what I understand there’s a whole lot more promotion and other legwork, and probably still a ritual goat sacrifice along the way.

What do you get out of all of this?

A fleeting feeling of accomplishment. The satisfaction of knowing that someday day my kids will have something to read about how they flipped our lives upside down and that it was okay, and it’s also okay to suck at something … or maybe suck at a bunch of things, as long as we can laugh about it.

Oh, and the hope that something, some day, catches fire and goes viral, but in a good way that doesn’t inspire internet trolls, but just makes a few people happy for a bit. And lands me a spot on Ellen.

A slightly more substantial feeling of accomplishment, and hope that one day this will turn into a full-time gig that earns enough to do more than live in a refurbished Winnebago and shop at thrift stores and canned food outlets.

Maybe. We’ll see. I still have some editing to do.


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Thank you.



Manic Mumbling | So Very Merry for ChristmasIf you want more funny, consider buying this book. I’m in it with a whole lot of bah humbug and stories of holiday cheer from others who are probably less humbuggy.

“In the midst of over the top Elf on the Shelf, baking disasters, and all the other bizarre family traditions, these moms keep their sense of humor through it all . . . . perfect blend of wit, sarcasm, and reminiscing. Grab your cup of cocoa or glass of wine and snuggle up with your own copy to weave your way through the coming months with a smile on your face.” ~Bambini Travel

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