“You should write lots of books and make lots of money, ” my husband said to me one day as we were driving.
“Yeah, no pressure, right?” I said. “Thanks a lot.”
“No, I mean, you are a good enough writer, so you should write books, ” he replied. Flattery is underrated.
“I have a book I’ve been thinking about writing, ” I told him.
“Really?” he said. He doesn’t know many writers. Don’t we always have a book we’re thinking about writing?
The truth is, I have written a couple of books. They sit deep in the recesses of my laptop, both of them transferred from one computer to the next, having been written years ago. One of them will never see the light of day. I wrote a memoir after a particularly difficult time in my life; I needed to write it for me.
The other was requested by a publisher after they reviewed my book proposal, and it sat firmly in the “maybe” pile for months. I had hoped it would be my “break.” When I finally received a courteous rejection letter – where have I put that thing? – I stopped writing for three months and couldn’t even call myself a writer for a while.
Now my husband wants me to write a book. He’s not alone.
On a fairly regular basis, some well-meaning friend will approach me and ask if I’ve ever thought about writing a book. (Apparently they don’t know many writers, either.) I usually say “yes, ” and then they tell me that they would buy my book if I ever write it. Well, some say they would buy it. Others say just they would “read” it. And most ask if they can have an autographed copy. I say “yes, ” but what I really want to say is that I will be happy to sign a copy they have purchased. Writers gotta eat.
Recently, a friend I work with told me that she and her daughter had decided that I should write a book because they love reading my blog. The conversation happened just days after my husband had the same idea. I felt a flutter near my esophagus and an ache between my shoulder blades. Is it possible that it’s time to try again?
Besides the potential for identity-crushing rejection, my other hesitation about writing a book is my great fear that I am not disciplined enough for such a big project. “Do you think I actually have it in me to sit down day after day and do the work it will take to write a book?” I asked my husband as we drove out of town for the weekend. Just that day I had watched my entire allotment of writing time float down the drain while I talked with family, answered email, and closed up shop early so we could get a jump on traffic.
“Well, how about we say that whoever writes a book first, you or me, has to treat the other to a weekend away, ” he said.
I glared at him. “Thanks a lot, ” I said, feeling a little wounded. Like it’s just that easy. My husband isn’t even a writer.
He was smiling kindly, though. He was up to something. That’s when I remembered the “thank you” notes from our wedding. A few months back, I was having a hard time getting them written until my husband gave me an incentive: a weekend shopping trip if I got them in the mail by a certain date. I’m just competitive enough that challenges like that work for me.
“You’re on, ” I said. “Only, how about we raise the stakes. First one done has to take the other on a trip to Italy.” I have always wanted to go to Italy.
“Wow, well, in that case, first one to write AND publish a book has to take the other one to Italy, ” he countered. I trembled.
When we got home from our weekend trip, I started outlining.
And I’m learning a little Italian, too. “Ho scritto un libro.” (I wrote a book.)
I figure while I am riding in a gondolier in Venice, someone might ask me why I’m there.
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