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If they asked me

I've been thinking of writing a book.

This is hilarious. I do not have a book in me. I barely have the couple of paragraphs a day required to sustain two blogs. And still, I've been thinking of writing a book. An actual book, not a "turn my website into a book about my kid" book which, well, I can't say I have much appreciation for that genre.

I've recently read two books on writing. Not intentionally - they were both loaned to me by a friend who knows me from a different time when I was much more of a writer than I am today, although also much worse of a writer. The first was Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird. I didn't care for it (sorry, Sam). I love Anne Lamott's writing and I love her attitude and I admire the open-hearted spirituality that comes through in her ideas, but I am not a fiction writer and she just wasn't talking to me. The second, which to be honest I am somewhat less than halfway through, is Stephen King's On Writing. This is more appealing to me, possibly because he says "fuck" more often, possibly because the advice feels more like something I can achieve. It breaks my lazy little heart, but I can understand a diatribe against my beloved passive voice. I feel that is something I can do something with.

Reading these books has put the thought into my head that I could write one of my own, or, more likely, has fanned the sad little ember of the thought into life from where it has been hiding, buried for years, in the darkest corner of my brain. I even have an idea, although what I have is not a story or even a plot but only a moment, a scene, the climax to a story I feel insufficient to imagine and I don't know how to turn that moment into a tale. I don't know how to build characters, I can't write dialog to save my life, and my attempts at descriptive prose tend towards "Sally walked under some green trees." Magic, no?

It would be a bad idea for me to attempt to write a book. It would be difficult and stressful and demoralizing and would lead to a poor result and I would likely abandon the effort entirely after three days and somewhat less than five pages and feel like a failure. Worse, a failure before I even got far enough to be a failure, unable to make the effort far before I was unable to produce anything worthwhile. (And I am not fishing here, only being frank. Several of you have suggested that I ought to write. something. and for that I thank you although in my heart I believe you are wrong.)

I don't know where I'm going with this, just admiring my navel, I suppose. I wonder though, does everyone quietly dream about writing a book or being a rock star or wowing Broadway or finally going to law school or touring Asia for a year? Is it part of adulthood, to sit and think wistfully about the things that might have been, even if they never truly could have been? Do we all sit here and know that there are a hundred reasons why we cannot, should not, will not, and still.

I've been thinking of writing a book.

Comments (53)

I wonder too. I don't necessarily want to do the WORK of writing a book, but to get those words out of me is something I think about alot.

That or singing on Broadway.

I get where you are coming from.

i'd love to paint a masterpiece or even better, get to sleep in on a saturday morning.

I've been thinking of writing a book, of auditioning for a play, of running of to Hollywood to be an actress. I do think it's part of adulthood, that wistfullness that comes with age. But I also think it's part of being a creative person, which, up till this very moment, I would have said I wasn't. But I am, and I have to admit that if I'm going to do anything productive with this writing thing.

I had an essay chosen for an anthology that's being published in May, so there's that. I really want to write a book, too, but not fiction. I think you should just start. Don't put any pressure on yourself, just start writing here and there. It can't hurt, right?

I am always off in la-la land wondering about what I could "do" with my life. Not a "get rich quick" sort of thing, but something that I could do that would make me feel like - Yes, I looked life in the face and spit in it. I can relate to what you say about having a scene in your head but no way to put it into place and follow through. It's frustrating, it's degrading (it makes me feel like a tool) and it's depressing that my greatest contribution would be that I sat at a desk for 9 hours a day and typed, hole punched and stapled very important documents.

Keep dreaming babe - it's gonna happen - it doesn't fall into your lap, you have to make it happen - but it will happen.

Every single time I read a good book, I want to write one. But I am not a writer. My blog is painful evidence of that.
I love to cook and I often fantasize about opening my own restaurant, but then I remember that I hate tomatoes and peppers and fish and seafood and how in the hell could I be a chef and own a restaurant when I don't eat that stuff? So I have these dreams that are there and they tug at me, but they just aren't realistic.

I sing. I can do that quite well and I do feel a twinge of guilt when I watch shows like American Idol where people believed in themselves enough to take a chance. Because I never believed in myself enough to take that chance. And that is the one thing that I can do better than anyone I know. So I feel guilt for not pursuing what I know I could have done and I long daily to do things I know that I cannot.

It's vicious I tell you.

But I also say you should write a book. Even if it sucks, write it.

I think you should at least try. I've started and stopped several pieces and came to the realization that I'm no writer; I'm a reader! But I had to figure this out for myself along with not being a teacher, not being being an oil trader, and not being a conductor (of an orchestra...not a train;)). How's that for a crazy bunch of dreams? I think it's a normal process everyone goes through. But I think it's important that you at least try some of these things. For how else would you know? And who wants to live in the land of "Woulda Coulda Shoulda?"

On the other hand, sometimes the result can be depressing, so you should be prepared for that as well.

Good luck!

I can totally sympathize. I have a box full of notebooks and diskettes littered with my book attempts from the last 20 years. I still think I'd like to finish one, someday, though I swing back and forth between wanting actual literature, and doing a potboiler (just for the sake of actually finishing something).

I have much the same problem you do with dialogue, though, and a hard time remembering to describe things, rather than storming ahead with the plot. My first book (age 7), was going to be a thrilling tale about a pioneer's journey across the plains. It can be transcribed here in full: "This is the diary of Jane. June 15th: I am heading out West in a wagon. June 20th: I'm not feeling so well. June 30th: Jane died yesterday and we buried her. The End" Details, schmetails!

I say, go ahead and write when you want to write, don't worry if it never turns into something bigger. It never hurts to stretch those mental muscles.

I thought I'd start little ~ I want to write Children's books. Probably because I'm a teacher and I LOVE all things Children's Lit. The problem is, every time I start to think up an ideas it sounds too much like something I've already read.

That damn JK Rowling! I should have written those Harry Potter Books ~ I'd love to be that famously rich and have millions waiting with baited breath to see who lives and who dies when all is said and done.

I suppose some day I may try to actually write a Children's book ~ however, I deal so bad with rejection...who knows.

I hope you find the book in you somewhere...I'd buy it :) I'd even tell you if I liked it or if it really sucked. :)

I think about it all the time. I couldn't do fiction but I have my idea and if I sat down to outline, I'd probably come up with a lot. But I don't even know where to begin and so I haven't done a thing with it.

And I'd totally buy a book you wrote!

Write the book and dont tell anyone about it. Keep it something private until you are ready to share. If you want to, the only thing stopping you is yourself.

Me? I have (count them) SIX canvasses in varying stages of completeness in my tiny tiny apartment. Plus one huge blank one that already has a painting planned for it. And a few paintings that don't even have blank canvasses yet. My problem isn't ideas, it's actually having the opportunity to do them. And space, that's a big issue right now. And mobile child. That's the biggest issue. Life was so much easier when happiness equalled a bouncy chair.

I think it's a natural part of everyone's spirit to dream about doing something that's a little 'larger than life' or beyond your everyday tasks/skills.

I don't harbour authoress dreams... but I do sit quietly on my couch and watch those travel shows where people are out in the remote islands, or mountains, or deserts - meeting the people, eating the sheep's eyeball, climbing the mountain. I love, love, love seeing new places and reading about different cultures... and yet, I am far too A-Type to ever be comfortable travelling in the back of a pickup truck with the chickens across the Afghan dessert (I feel mildly panicked arriving in a thoroughly civilized European capital without having a hotel room pre-booked and a map in hand). I know this. But still, I dream. And maybe one day I'll be brave enough to climb a mountain or hike through a desert... but I can promise you, I won't write a book about it!

I think that urge is something we are born with. Look at children, they have soaring imaginations. Every day they want to be or do something different. To them, there is no limit. Once we get a little older and things like a mortgage kick in, we feel a bit more limited and the overwhelming need to be stable takes over. Rushing off to Hollywood with a husband and 1 year old doesn't seem like a 'good' idea.

I think the desire to be anything we want stays with us. For some, the desire is strong enough to compel them to act on it. For others, we dream, but stay content in our current World.

The choice is up to you if you want to act on your writing desire, but please, don't give up dreaming. Your posts are great and I enjoy reading very much.

I totally hope you write the book. PS: I'm also more inclined to listen to people/identify with them if they employ the word "fuck". It's nice to know we're on the same page.

HERE is what you need to do. I have the very thing. Do NaNoWriMo ( ) next month. It's low-pressure, in that no one expects to generate anything other than pure crap. But it breaks the fear of "getting started," and if you need a little help you can buy their _No Plot? No Problem!_ book. A friend and I are doing it for the first time this year.

I totally want to be a writer. Or the host of a travel show. Or a brain surgeon.

I've been seriously thinking about just doing it. Just writing. I have the business card of an agent and everything. I just need to go for it.

And so do you! Dreams will always stay dreams if you don't pursue them.

Of COURSE! They'll be discovering me ANY MINUTE now, I'm sure.

I've always (at least, in the year+ I've been reading) felt that you could be a marvellous short-story writer. I loves me a good short story.

I think I have a book within as well but......... that or I will become a niteclub loungy singer. But the fact is, I don't have the time nor the talent for either. But we can dream right?

Good luck, if you do!

Me, I've always wanted to be an actress.. there have been several times where I will see a sign saying "Auditions today!" and I so want to pull into the lot and see what I've got. I don't know why I never pursued it when I could have, but a stable job, husband, and 3 kids later.. I just don't see it in my immdeiate future.

Maybe if you would be "thinking of writing a blog", a book might surface. Oh irony, how sweet you are!

wow - I've had that exact conversation in my head an *untold* number of times.

Is there a 12 step for people like us?
"Hi, my name is *******. I'm a frustrated writer."

I say go for it!

I always wanted to be a professional something, Flutist, gymnist, just something that would make me stand out from everyone else. Now I'm 31 weeks pregnant and I've been looking back and thinking, what might have been is probably nowhere near as wonderful as being a mother will be.

you could always give it a try for NaNoWriMo ( I've attempted this 2-3 years, but I've failed each time. *lol* :) I have delusions of granduer whenever I think about maybe writing a book. but this is always a fun thing. :)

Write the book. It's one of the hardest things I've ever had to do, but I figure if I don't try, I'll always regret it.

And I think you could do it.

Give it a whirl, you are a fabulous writer, I dont care what your subcousious is telling you!

I don't know if everyone in the world dreams of writing a book, but I would say that among Internet bloggers (no matter how "big" or "small"), it's a pretty popular pipe dream. I, for example, have wanted to write young adult fiction (a la Cynthia Voigt or Norma Klein or Ellen Emerson White) since I was about 12. I'm scared, though, that the older I get, the less able I'll be to write a book that speaks to young peoples' hearts the way that my favorite YA authors did.

If you're serious in pushing this pipe dream through to reality, check out NaNoWriMo, as others have suggested. Also, Miss Snark ( is a pretty interesting read -- even though her primary focus is on giving advice on how to get published, she does write quite a bit on the creative process of writing itself.

I just started taking a creative writing class. It's an excellent prelude to writing a book. It's fun to be away from baby stuff and talk with other creative people. I highly suggest it. And I think writing is as much about the journey as the finished product. We actually just talked yesterday about creating characters and creating worlds in which those characters live and when I think about it in those terms, it seems like such an exciting opportunity to write history--someone eles'e made up history. And the thought of that is so much fun that whether or not it ever turned into a book doesn't matter to me. Just don't stop gazing at your navel...

I, too, am half finished with Stephen King's On Writing and it has given me the same thoughts. Growing up, I always knew I wanted to be an author, but I just don't think I have it in me. I can write one hell of a story for creative writing classes, but they are only technically correct, not interesting to read.

It's brave of you to say what you dream of doing. I had a professor once who was simultaneously 1) a professor 2)writer but not just in a professorial way 3)appointed Chief of Police? the Fire Dept.? something like that a year or so later, as I read in the paper. There was a man who didn't believe in limitations. He told all of us over and over that anyone can write and get it published. He read our work out loud in class (it was a required course for history majors, so not exactly necessarily scintillating) and honestly, it wound up being the most interesting, inspiring class I had. In fact, I submitted one of the things I wrote for him to a magazine and although they didn't use it, they liked it a lot and asked me to submit ideas. That was a looong time ago, in college and I never did it but I was so happy that I sent it off and got a response. Things have gotten in the way, like a career, then kids but someday I will write something. I always think of that professor and other people who did believe in me, and how it shapes your life when someone, even a stranger, encourages you. And in response to your question, I don't know of a single person that doesn't have dreams of bigger things. It's always good to push yourself out there. I am sure that once you start something, it will take shape. I'm never able to think it out beforehand. You are a great writer!

Don't be a pussy. Sit down and write.

That was me trying out some tough love.

I don't think I'm 'creative' enough to write a book. Fiction, that is. I could probably manage a non-fiction book (assuming something interested me enough). I think I'd make a good editor, though, and have always kind of regretted not pursuing this option.

I think it is a little part of adulthood. It's certainly a product of having received a liberal arts education, I'll tell you that. I started out my (career) life in advertising, and SERIOUSLY considered quitting to go for my degree in Culinary Arts. I wanted to be a trained chef and open a specialty foods store. Instead, I got into Fundraising (yes, I don't see the connection either).

Before Lady was born, I quit my job in Fundraising to try my hand at starting my own small creative business from Scratch. It's been nearly two years, and I still love the process, and the business is slowly growing and finding it's niche. You really can't lose if you try...not even if you try and fail. You should give it a shot Beth! But this is coming from someone who would rather try and be a whopping failure than to not try and have a nagging little voice asking me, "what if....?"

Think of the example this would set for Mia (is that lame? I'm never sure if we Mommies are supposed to be setting a powerful adventurous example for our daughters or whether we're supposed to do all of this for us).

i think one of the most satisfying aspects of blogging is that it gives an outlet to all the people who have that ember of desire to write a book. what a great place to practice.

i've always wanted to write a book, too.

I dream of going back in time to my young adultish life, where I KNEW I could do anything my heart dreamed of doing. At the time I was in Theatre school and on top of the universe at the same time. But then you start to grow up, and think I want other things too, so I better do this this and this to get these and then the heart dreamt ideas get pushed aside.
I still know in my heart I could have made it on the stage, ( by making it I mean My definition not Hollywood's) but there's too many things I'd have to give up that I'm just not willing to right now.
Still I wish I could have that "I know I can attitude, because with that and only with that do people succeed.

Now that I'm in my early thirties I wish that I had been more of a risk taker in my early twenties. I wish I would have at least tried my hand at a singing career instead of taking the practical, safe road. Now when I sing in front of strangers at a karaoke bar I inevitably have some drunk woman come up to me and tell me that I should sing professionally. I smile and thank her and tell her that there isn't a music label in the world that would sign me because I don't have the right look and I'm too old.

The point of all of this is that I should have taken a chance and at least tried it because now I'll never know if I actually had the chops to make it. So I guess what I'm hoping here is that you'll at least try to write a novel. Not doing is one thing, not trying is another. Don't let it be something you'll always regret.

Like the Nike Ad says. Just do it. Nobody wants or cares about how you "want" to. Purely by the number of folks that comment on your blogs, lots of people like your style without influence of someone else. It is of course up to you whether or not you write about Mia. You have to be really excited about what your writing and Mia is your passion but, is it the right kind of passion to bring to a book?
Please do write a book. That is a good idea. I would love a book you wrote as you are a terribly entertaining writer. So go 'Nike - Just do it'

Give it a shot...don't tell anyone until you have something to show...that way there's no outside pressue. Unless of course, you need the pressure to keep going (I'm like that). Also, there's a book in my attic on writing memorable characters. I believe the title is "Writing Great Characters" so there are resources to help you with that.

One of the reasons I wanted to go back to school was so that I could write more.

I have written three books. Printing out my first gave me more satisfaction than anything else I've done (except the birth of my children), including finishing my M.A.

Of course, I've never published them, or even tried, and I am one of the few people who have read them. But I have done it. I have written a book. Or three. And so can you.

Others have already offered up the NaNoWriMo idea, but that's what I was gonna say and even though they said it first, I still wanted you to know I put thought into this for you :) I may actually do it this year myself. Let me know if you are ready for that!

When somebody says, "I have this idear for a book, it's about this guy and this and that ..." I can safely look forward to reading that book when I am playing for the 76ers in the NBA championships in that other world where I never took up smoking and other frittered dreaming comes true.

But when YOU say, "I'm thinking about writing a book" I'm camping happy because the likelihood of my one day reading this book of yours is like having money in the bank. You got the tools: 1) you can write a little everyday, 2) you can sure as hell keep a secret, and 3) you like to say fuck. Ergo, YOU WERE BORN TO WRITE THIS BOOK.

As per the idear, take it from this here makeshift librarian, and heed this lil' piece of homespun zen I'm making up as we speak: "You aren't supposed to have an idear for the book, the book is supposed to have an idear for you." Send me the galleys :)

a couple of people have mentioned NaNoWriMo and i would have to 2nd that motion. i tried it last year but failed; November is way too busy for me. you might like it, though. you can write about anything you want. and, if anything, they have some good ideas and suggestions for writing that you could puruse through on the website.

good luck with the writing! i think you can do it. :)

My advice? Try to set aside time each day to write. Something. Anything. Could be connected to the day before. Could be something completely different. You could love it. You could hate it. You could LOVE it the day you write it, and then HATE it when you re-read it the next day. But the important part is that you're doing it. And with doing comes ease of doing. :)

I've been thinking of writing a book, too. So is everyone I know. Most of writing a book entails discipline and time, and a small bit of creativity in comparison....

I've also been thinking of dancing again, and auditioning for Canadian Idol (well, American Idol, since I'd be faking my age, might as well fake my country...). ;)

You're a fab writer. All you'd need would be discipline and exposure (you're getting great exposure at Clubmoms...), and I'm sure you have some self-discipline in you! :)

I have had broadway dreams myself, I have a good voice, I don't fool myself into thinking I could have made it. I do however think that you COULD write a book. Your blog is funny, sometimes insiteful, and thought provoking. I wonder what you coul do with the more conventnional form of writing :-)

How F#@%ing ironic, thayt I am reading this just now. My husband, brother-in-law and I were just talking about our prospective and very different novels. Do what make you happy fish. Your writing entertains me as is.

How F#@%ing ironic, thayt I am reading this just now. My husband, brother-in-law and I were just talking about our prospective and very different novels. Do what make you happy fish. Your writing entertains me as is.

November is National Novel Writing Month and last year, I spent it stressed out because I can't force a novel. I mean, it's a novel, for fuck's sake.

But I guess to answer your question, I know I certaily do daydream about writing a book. Not a bestseller (I wouldn't dare!), nothing mind-blowing. Just a book. I also daydream about being on The Daily Show. Is that strange? I want Jon Stewart to interview me. I would giggle hysterically.

They say that at the end of our lives we tend to regret the things we DIDN'T do more than the things we DID.

So go for it. Have you ever read 'The Artist's Way' by Julia Cameron? Go get it. Today. After you finish King's book (which I loved), start Cameron's. Do the morning pages (I know it's hard with kids but it can be done). Start trusting in yourself and trusting in the universe.

There is a divine plan for you and ignoring that? Is a crime. Because you are the only person who can give the universe your special gift.

You wont like this but I think you should do it! Even if it was only a page a day. I personally think youre a good writer.Someday I would like to own my own buisness like a family restaraunt. I have tons of research to do on it. There are a million reasons why I shouldnt but I am thinking of trying.

I forgive you for not liking Bird by Bird so much. :) My copy of Bird by Bird disappeared awhile ago, so I need to pick it up again. And really, you know I would read Anne Lamott's grocery list, because it would be FUNNY and also probably make me cry. I've started to like Stephen King as a person since I read his columns at the end of each Entertainment Weekly, so perhaps I should try his tome on writing, too?

Anyway. Please hush about why you CAN'T write a book. You can, you are infinitely capable and you will, if you decide to do so. And I would love it, and buy seventeen copies. See, now you have to write one just so you can make me feel guilty if I don't buy exactly seventeen copies.

I dream about writing a book. Or a screenplay. Or a graphic novel. I have lots of ideas, but like you, I worry about building characters and describing scenes well.

I was even considering NaNoWriMo, but I just don't have the time to pull it off right now. I am going to try some writing though. And maybe take an online writer's workshop. Because I'd like to stop thinking about it and actually do it. Maybe I'll suck. But maybe I won't.

And you are a good writer. People connect to what you have to say, which I think is an important starting place.

Hi! I wandered over here from Jonniker's blog. I totally want to write a book. And be a radio DJ. And part of a girl band. Oh, and I'm with you on Asia!

I say go for it. :)

I totally agree with the previous comment :) JK.

I have been thinking about writing a book this week too. Not in the near future though. But it was probably my fever making me think I could do such a thing.

You on the other hand, are an excellent writer. You could totally do it! You'll never know untill you try. Go for it :)

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So the Fish Said...

Whoever you are, now I place my hand upon you, that you be my poem, I whisper with my lips close to your ear.

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