'The' Book

November 8, 2005

Now that I have admitted to the universe that I am writing a book, maybe the world at large - or the smaller subset of aspiring writers at large - might find a discussion of the process I am going through of minor interest.

Readers should note that aside from this website, I have no writing experience, beyond the technical writing of software design documents and one Masters thesis in Electrical Engineering, and a couple of computer science papers. Oh, and a silly ghost story contest winner in college that I co-authored with a friend. Nobody has ever paid me to write, whether articles, fiction or otherwise.

So why the sudden urge to write a novel?

First of all, it's not sudden. This book is not, in fact, my first novel. I wrote one at the age of fourteen. I submitted it to a writing contest and did not win - I'll admit it wasn't the best story. I'd always waffled between a career in science or arts. Science won out - the pragmatist in me figured it would be easier to turn to the arts in later years than it would be to start an engineering career in my mid-thirties. Not that it can't be done. I'm sure there are a few people who have succeeded. I just don't think I'd be one of them.

That said, I don't want to diminish the achievements of any artists or writers. It takes years to get skilled at any craft. I am late starting the journey and know I have a long, long road to travel before I can begin to call myself competent. Every book I read reinforces that notion - from the novels I love to all the books I've devoured lately on the craft of writing.

Writing has always been one of those things that I planned to get back to "someday". Someone close to me asked me a while back when I was going to start writing again. I realized that I'd been putting it off for far too long, and if I did not start now, I would wake up one day wondering why I'd never tried.

I have taken the rather scary step of scaling back my full-time, well paid tech industry job to three days a week of part-time work. The other days, I write. Some days I do better than others.

What will I blog about? At the moment, not the book itself or the plot. I'll probably discuss what it's like working part-time and motivating myself to write during the other hours. I may discuss how scary it is not knowing where my competency level is relative to other writers. After all, I haven't written anything resembling a story in over twenty years. It's likely that my writing is simply bad. I'll discuss the process, from first draft, through revisions and getting feedback, and ultimately whether the book can ever become publishable.

So here's me trying. I may fail, or I may not. But I won't know the outcome unless I get words on paper. So far, I have almost 42,000 of them sitting on my hard drive.

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