There is a book in you

There is a book in you

At one of my high school consultations, my English teacher, Mrs. Dearlove, told my mother that I would one day be an author. So, as I launch my book* today, I am asking myself, “Why has it taken me thirty years since high school to publish a book?”
The following points might go some way in answering this question and hopefully shorten the time period for you, if writing a book is on your bucket list.

Delayed gratification
The thing with a book is that it takes time. And during the time when the writing is being done, it is easy to feel that one is not achieving anything. There is nothing to show for it.

I got to the point where my family began to wonder what it is I was doing in my study all that time. So it’s quite easy to give up and go for something that can produce results in a shorter period of time.

For me, that is article writing. I have many ideas for articles and numerous drafts so I can sit down and churn out a piece in a relatively short time.
With a book however, you have to accept that there is no instant gratification. You will have to wait a few months, even years before your book sees the light of day. So getting used to a delayed outcome is key to writing a book.

Believe in yourself
My nephew asked me how long it took me to write the book. I couldn’t give him a straight answer because even though I started it three years ago, I didn’t actually write every single day of those three years.

Some of the time, especially in the beginning, was spent trying to convince myself that it’s a good idea and I should pursue it.
It was only after I started working with my editor and friend, Leila Hall, that the book took a life of its own. And note that a good editor is not only for editing the book right at the end.

They can be helpful during the writing process and also in discussing ideas on what direction the book should take. An editor (or other trusted person) can help give you that much needed boost of confidence early on in the process.

Earth time vs Clock time
Another reason why I didn’t write every day is because on some days the inspiration was just not there. Writing a book is a creative, iterative process and not a mechanical one like doing the dishes at the kitchen sink.

Sometimes I would get stuck and no matter how hard I forced it, I found it hard to make headway.
But when I was in the flow, an idea would come, seemingly out of nowhere and I would make a breakthrough and continue. In her book, The Magical Approach, Jane Roberts talks about creativity in relation to earth time and clock time.

Earth time is the one your creative self uses, that is why you can get an idea lying awake in the middle of the night. And if you do, get up and write it down because it might be gone in the morning.

Earth time works with our intuition, nature and our primal selves. On the other hand, clock time is society’s hours and minutes. Creativity has little respect for clock time.

So if you approach your book project with a mindset that I must write and finish it by such and such a date, you could have mixed results. Of course, some sort of timeline is important but a healthy respect for the ebbs and flows of creativity is important.

Embrace imperfection
In the beginning I looked at books by some of my favourite authors and thought I had to come up with a perfect book in one go. I can now attest to the fact that the process of writing a book is anything but perfect.

It is messy and disjointed. Sometimes you can have a good idea that fits at the end, and you are not even sure how the book will begin. You can write seemingly unrelated paragraphs and then weave them together later.
It’s an iterative process with building blocks that eventually fit together. And let me not discourage you by going into the amount of rewriting you will have to do or the challenge of finding the right team to work with.

So if writing a book is something you are thinking about, I say “Go for it!” Because as Karen Lamb wrote, “A year from now you may wish you had started today.”

l Saved by the King, a journey of self-discovery from Menkhoaneng to Thaba Bosiu will be available in Pick ’n Pay at Pioneer Mall from Saturday. afrikarizma@gmail.com

Tendai Murahwa

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