Friday, June 10, 2016

Writing: The Book You Have To Write

The other day, I bought a book to read on my Kindle. I'd enjoyed other books by this author, so I thought this was a good purchase. But after I got a couple of chapters in, I discovered the book didn't hold my attention. The dialogue sounded like sessions from my philosophy and ethics classes in college. I regretfully deleted the book from my device. Then I began to wonder if this was one of those books the author had to write.

I've only produced one book I had to write. After the death of my first wife, I gathered all my journaling in hopes of producing a book that would help others going through a similar loss. Eventually I removed all the sugar-coating and self-justification, and produced a book--The Tender Scar: Life After The Death Of A Spouse--that remains in print a decade later. It wasn't a best-seller, but it was a book I had to write.

If you're an author, you recognize the difference between writing a book that will sell (to your agent, to an editor, to readers) and one that burns so brightly in your heart that you have to write it. If you're fortunate, that book will sell as well. And if not, you still need to get the words down on paper. And that's all right.

Have you ever read a book, either novel or non-fiction, that made you think the author had to write it? I'd like to hear your experiences.

PS--As some of you already know, I've signed a contract with Gilead Publishing. The company is new, but the people there have a great deal of experience in Christian publishing. I look forward not only to writing for Gilead, but reading the work of other authors there. I hope you do, too.

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Elise Griffith said...

As a voracious reader, I've come across a few books that seemed (as you say) the author *had* to write for personal reasons. One I read in the past year is "The Plum Tree" by Ellen Marie Wiseman. As a child, she made trips to Germany during summer months to visit relatives there. Her debut book is a WWII Holocaust novel from the perspective of some who lived and struggled in Germany during its terrible Nazi regime. The novel did become a best seller with more than 1400 reviews on Amazon. Not easy reading, though.

Do you think every author or potential author has a book in him or her? I've always told our sons that every person has a story, and we have a framed, calligraphic plaque on our kitchen wall that says, "Home is where your story begins."

Richard Mabry said...

Elise, I believe you're right. What differentiates the true author from others is the way they tell that story. Thanks so much for your comment.

Patricia Bradley said...

Every book I write has some element in it that I have to write about, something I've struggled with. I don't plan it that way, it just happens.

I co-wrote an abstinence curriculum about fifteen years ago quite by accident. (cannot believe it's been that long!) Actually it wasn't by accident--it was more an assignment from God. My fiction ideas had dried up and they didn't return until I finished the workbook that went with the curriculum. :-)

Richard Mabry said...

Patricia, authors who write in the genre of Christian fiction often find (frequently when the book is half-finished or even complete) that it contains elements that we "have to" write. Thanks for adding your own experience via your comment.