It's November 2020, the year that is seared on us. I'm fortunate with work, health, love and a welded-on optimism that keeps me happy. Best of all, I am now packing and mailing my book every day to people who have often contributed more than the cover price, helping the beneficiary which is CrewCare.
'I'm writing a book!' a guy tells me, before interrogating me for quite a while on my process. When asked how many words he has, the answer is 'None, I need to plan first'. I hope he can write well.
'He needs to write a book', a wife at the pub yells. Her cricket career husband nods as she similarly drains my brain about how to do it. But writing isn't automatic. You need some attributes.
The first is 'Voice'. The reader needs to connect with you on page one, and it needs to remain consistent. This was a challenge for me because my work was partially a huge pile of word files spanning many years and some were written as magazine articles.
Journalists know to use the five 'W's – Who, What, Where, When, and Why – along with the 'H', which is 'How?' In a book this is just as important, but the framing is different to a short feature in a magazine.
Then there is 'Authenticity'. I read a self-published book by a roadie which was entertaining but then a chapter spoiled the whole manuscript. He tells of coming across a truck crash on the Hume Highway late a night where a driver was trapped, badly injured in his cab. As they tried to get him out it caught fire. So they did a mercy killing, bashing him to death with a tire iron.
If it did, they would be now in jail for murder, after writing about it.
In Stuart Coupe's excellent best-selling book 'Roadies' a spoiling lie pops up from several of his interviewees where they tell tall tales of encountering angry people with guns, on tour. Trouble is, no one I knows remembers a gun culture in the 1970's – other than that it was easy to get them.
You need 'Continuity' so that your chapters flow properly. That's why I used Scrivener, pasting all my Word files in as chapters. It makes it easy to move them around, Word doesn't do that. Then I complied the thing to see a 'mock' book as a PDF. Printing that out into one huge pile of pages made editing easier.
With a lot of help from a review panel, over five versions the book became whole. Several chapters were axed.
I've had a few manuscripts sent to me over the years and sadly none of them saw light of day. One was 200,00+ words (my book is 90,000) about an old rock band. Impossible to read – style, punctuation, form, voice – everything wrong. The other much better written, about a recently deceased rock singer. It simply didn't grab me because it was too close to the man who wasn't sufficiently interesting.
The lock down gave me time to do the lions share of the work, and the slow days of my current part time work gave me the luxury of time to keep editing and working at a happy pace.
Then came the bad part. Next: Publishing Pain.