Jan 112010

I’m here! Sorry for the post-free days. As many of you know, for the past two years, I’ve been working on my first book. I finished a 280+ page early draft ages ago, and I’ve been editing it ever since. I hoped to be completely finished by the end of the summer or, at the latest, end of 2009. However, the project took a different turn. I killed two chapters I’d already written and created new ones that were more fully developed and gave the book a stronger arch. God, I’ve learned a lot over the past 24 months of working on this thing. In writing a memoir, there are so many different ways to re-tell the story. For example, take today. Thus far, I:

  • Woke at 7:00 a.m. to the sound of a rooster crowing (my cellphone’s alarm clock ringtone). I don’t usually use an alarm but I did today because I stayed up late last night and I worried I’d oversleep.
  • Read morning news online — BBC News and New York Times.
  • Checked Twitter, Facebook and my blog.
  • Showered, brushed my teeth, put on lotion, dressed and left the house.
  • Logged 20 blocks (1 mile) for my daily morning walk.
  • Ate Cheerios for breakfast.

No one wants to read a laundry list of “I did this, then I did this, then I did this.” So, if I was writing a story about of my morning, it would read very differently based on the theme. If I was writing about being a native Illinoisan living in Manhattan, I’d focus on the fact that I use a rooster’s crow as my alarm, and I’d describe how different it feels to walk a mile surrounded by skyscrapers instead of cornfields. What I ate for breakfast wouldn’t matter so much, and I’d leave that out of the story. If I was writing about healthy living, I’d focus on the fact that my morning beauty products and toothpaste are made of all-natural and organic materials. I’d talk about the importance of diet (eating Cheerios instead of fried eggs and bacon) and exercise (walking a mile every day). In that story, the fact that my alarm clock is a rooster’s crow wouldn’t really matter and I’d leave that out of the story. Either version could re-tell what happened to me today. But, the specific details included in the story depends the larger “theme.”

So, that’s what I’ve been working on with the book — figuring out which details of my life should be included and which ones shouldn’t. The other thing I’ve been doing is: editing. Now that the story is more fleshed out, I have to make it more readable. As an example of editing, check out this sentence on Nicolas Cage’s Wikipedia page:

“Despite these successes, most of his lower-profile films have performed poorly at the box office compared to his mainstream action/adventure roles.”

For clarity and to ease the read, the sentence could be edited as follows:

“Despite mainstream successes in action/adventure roles, many of Cage’s lower-profile films have delivered poor box office results.”

I’m not editing Cage’s wiki, but I am editing my book line by line to make it a clearer read. So, yeah, that’s the book update. At present, it looks like I’ll be finished by the end of this month. In fact, though (thankfully!) I’ve already been approached, this is the very reason I haven’t signed with an agent yet. Until I’ve written the whole thing, I didn’t really know: (1) what the book would be or (2) when I would finish it. I’ve contributed chapters to others’ books, written articles and completed other creative projects, but this is my first book. It’s nice to finish it on my own time and without the pressure of outside deadlines.

What’s next? Starting in February, the next step will be to pitch agents. Once I’ve found the right one, they’ll pitch the book to publishers. Once it’s found a publishing home, it will be printed and ready for bookshelves. Of course, there are no guarantees. So, my fingers will be crossed throughout the whole thing. And, of course, it’s an ongoing process. (Once I have an agent and publisher attached to the project, they’ll likely request additional edits, changes and others things.) For now, I’m just really happy about the progress I’ve made thus far. Okay, so, this was totally a long, disjointed post, but I wanted to let you know what I’ve been up to on the writing front. I’ll be back to updating Funky Brown Chick on a regular basis now. Expect more sex, dating and relationships posts this week! :)

  12 Responses to “Book Update: I’ve Been Writing My Ass Off”

  1. Yay!  Thanks for the update on the book.  Love love love the way you explained the editing process – how are you still SANE? GEEEEEEZ! 

  2. Big love and support. Congratulations!

  3. All my support to you.

  4. Looking forward to reading your book – when it’s published. These things take time. I don’t think you actually need to finish the whole thing to pitch it. You have a solid strong background in writing already, building a dedicated following. Add to that your partially-completed book to show publishers, and you should have no trouble getting a contract. An editor will be assigned to direct your polishing efforts anyway, might as well have the process begun earlier rather than later. Just my thoughts.

    I’ll be reviewing your blog soon, and it will be an added bonus to have a book on the horizon. There’s something exciting about a blog, with the community interaction, the spontaneity, and a well-written book can encapsulate the blog’s freshness, along with additional material that wasn’t appropriate at the time. A blog-book is far more than just reprinting the best posts of two or three years.

    Girl With a One-Track Mind is a good example. I’ve reviewed Zoe’s blog, and earlier today I sent off for a copy of her book.

    All the best with the writing, and don’t worry too much about leaving your audience short. You can’t do everything at once, and so long as you keep us simmering along with a post every now and then, we’ll have the book to dream about.

  5. C’mon, you’re a magical elf, aren’t you?  You can write a book AND do 5 blog posts a week, right?

    We out here all just hope you’re happy doing whatever it is you’re doing at the moment.

  6. Hey Twanna, thanks for sharing your process with us. It is hard to divide your attention to cover many writing projects at once.I recently decided that I need an editoral calendar and stick to it.I do wish you good luck on your book.

  7. I was wondering where you were!

    Congrats on getting your first draft done, and good luck with the final edits and finding an agent to push it for you.

  8. Congratulations on the progress you’ve made with your book.

    I enjoy your blog so I’m sure I will enjoy your book as well.

  9. hey, newbie to your blog, i  thoroughly enjoy your adventures.. London is covered in snow and you kep me warm…


  10. hey, newbie to your blog, i  thoroughly enjoy your adventures.. London is covered in snow and you keep me warm…


  11. Funny, I use the rooster as my alarm too! (Although my waking thought is that I want to shoot the damn thing, but it works.)

    Can’t wait for the book. Signed copy….

  12. Tisha: Yeah, the editing process is pretty tedious. At some points, I can’t even “see” it anymore and I need to take breaks from looking at pages and/or the computer screen.

    Pamela: THANKS!

    indigodiamond: I appreciate it!

    Guy Sez: Thanks for the feedback/advice. We’ll see how far along I am at the end of January. After that, I’ll decide which way to go next. And, yes, Zoe / Girl With A One Track Mind is awesome. (I know her.) We’re friends, and I think she’s an incredible strong-minded, intelligent and courageous woman.

    Baba Doodlius: THANK YOU for the kind words!!!!

    alicia: Funny you mentioned an editorial calendar. I tried that route once, but I couldn’t ever stick to it :)

    Skye Blue
    : Yep, I’m back! Thanks for the good luck wishes.

    LexiB: Thanks! :)

    Tony: Stay warm over there! I saw a satellite picture of the U.K. on BBC. It was TOTALLY covered in snow!

    Kalisia: Signed copy, indeed! :)

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