I Was A 98 Year Old Author

One stack of books I am working my way through.

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”             ~Aristotle

I feel like a kid in school again. There is so much I need to do if I want to realize my goal of writing a major work. Yesterday, I spent a long time in Barnes and Noble in the Writing section flipping through books on every conceivable aspect of writing and publishing. I looked through books with ideas, books about the process, books about writing every possible genre, books about self-publishing, and books about finding an agent. I sat on the floor thumbing through pages becoming more and more overwhelmed with every passing second. The amount of information is astounding. I could spend a lifetime reading about how to write a book and never even write a book. It made me question if I was insane for imagining I could do this. I left the bookstore with four books, two about writing and two about feminism, a headache, and a hole filled with doubt in the pit of my stomach.

When I got home, I opened up one of the books, A Novel in a Year by Louise Doughty, and started reading. Ms. Doughty offers 52 weeks of exercises designed to break the unconquerable task of writing down into bite-size bits. It is filled with useful advice on writing and practical exercises to “help writers develop confidence and style.” Yep. That sounds like something that might help me. I’m, more or less, starting at ground zero right now. I could use all the advice and practice I can get. The first exercise was simple. She offered a sentence for us to complete. I turned my sentence into a paragraph and felt reasonably pleased what I had written. Funny how the fear of writing goes away when you write instead of merely thinking about it, preparing for it, or talking about it.

And so I’ve decided to look on this as a journey, not a destination. The goal is to publish, but the timeline is flexible. If I work constantly thinking that the only way I will be successful is when I actually publish, then I’m unduly stressing myself out. I am on a path, not a racetrack. Every time I write, I learn something about myself through my emotion, my choice of words, the mere act of putting thoughts on paper (or a screen). I do mean to publish, but if it doesn’t happen until I’m 98 that is fine. If I write repeatedly from now until then, I might just turn myself into an excellent 98 year old author.

One comment

  1. Hey Justine, if you want to communicate with my sister at any point, let me know. She’s in the process of finishing a book and is getting ready to send it to agents. I think she felt just like you did at the beginning–what helped her the most was to just sit down and write and not think about the rest:). You’ll get there, and I bet you won’t be even close to 98!!

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