I wonder how many people have said that? Probably a lot. But, I wonder how many have actually followed through and done it?
I can remember as a kid wanting to see my name on the front cover of a book and a picture of my ugly mug on the back.
When I was eleven, I sat down at the kitchen table and tried writing my own story, one involving a knight that hunts down and kills dragon (At this age I was heavily influenced by fantasy novels—mostly Dragonlance and Ravenloft). I think I wrote two lines before giving up. Back then reading the stories was a much more rewarding and satisfying way to spend my time (especially those crafted by Margaret Weis, Tracy Hickman or Dan Parkinson) .
For the longest time, I was content on being a consumer of the written word. And I read a lot. Like most people, my tastes in genres changed as I got older. But that just meant my bookshelves are filled with titles written by greats like J.R.R. Tolkien, George R.R. Martin, J.K Rowling, Isaac Asimov, Carl Sagan, Umberto Eco, Pablo Neruda, and Henryk Sienkiewicz just to name a few of the top of my head. You’ll also find dozens of military books, history books (the Civil War, WWI, WWII etc.), memoirs, and of course books written by Tom Clancy, Brad Thor, Vince Flynn, Daniel Silva, Steve Berry etc. etc…. I could go on and on.
But in in January 2016, I set out on a journey to become not just a consumer of the written word but a also a creator of one.
I had just crossed off a” bucket-list,” item (I competed in a body-building competition where took home a couple of trophies), and I was looking to challenge myself to cross off another. This one though was going to require me to put out more of a mental effort than a physical one. I was finally going to sit down and write a book.
The story came to me in the shower (which happens to be second greatest place men usually find their inspiration. In case you are wondering the first place is on the toilet.)
Naturally, I had the beginning and the end, but I had no idea what happened in the middle of my story. I remembered reading somewhere that “the story writes itself,” (and I found out later that this sentiment is generally true) so I sat down at my computer and starting typing as fast as I could get the words out of my head. (I reckon not many people still write their stories out long hand.).
I threw caution to the wind, typing whenever I had any free moments. Which usually meant late at night after my wife and kids were asleep. After three months, I had 20,000 words and the beginning of a masterpiece.
Actually, it was all CRAP. Brad Thor said once you should allow yourself to write a crappy chapter. Well, I had written about ten crappy chapters. I still gave it to my siblings and mother to read, who quickly confirmed my feelings that it was CRAP. My brother was a little bit harsher with his critique and told me he absolutely hated it. But he also said that he knew I had it in me to write something great and encouraged me to not give up and keep writing. Needless to say, I didn’t hesitate throwing what I had written into the digital trash can.
I took some time away to gather my thoughts. Over the next couple weeks, I put together a rough outline of a more compelling story line. The next time I sat down in front of my computer, I wasn’t going to just write the story on a whim, there was going to be purpose to the words I was laying down. I didn’t want to waste any more time. (Although my first attempt at writing a story wasn’t exactly a complete waste of time, because it helped me to learn how to “write” better.)
So, I got to it, using the outline as my guide. As the story evolved it went in a direction I hadn’t envisioned and in the end the story did essentially write itself.
In September 2017, I typed the words “THE END.” It was 2 o’clock in the morning and I rushed upstairs (my office is in the basement of our house) to share the news with my wife who was in a deep sleep. “Yes, yes…that’s great honey,” she mumbled before closing her eyes and going back to sleep.
I crawled into bed next to her and thought happily to myself “I did it. I had written a book.” Little did I know what came after was going to be just as hard….