Friday, April 9, 2010

It takes a village

By Heather Justesen

They say that it takes a village to raise a child, but how many people realize it take a village to write a book too--or at least to publish a book.

My case in point: I have a book written that started with an idea spawned from a news report somebody wrote. I mulled the idea, then talked to a friend about ways to make it work, ways to expand it, extra conflicts. Then I went online to research information yet another person culled and posted. Several other people, most likely.

I worked on the story, asking for opinions from an ER nurse, my parents, and husband as I was trying to form everything and make the pieces fit.

Next I took it to my critique group and they gave me more feedback about things they liked or that needed more explanation. They told me what wasn't working and made me think about different ways to convey that information.

When I eventually find a home for the manuscript it will go through several readers, editors, line editors, and possibly more revisions.

Did I write the book? Yes. Could I have written it and gotten it to the final format without any help? Perhaps, but it wouldn't have been as good, it might not have resonated with as many people if I didn't have input and direction on how to finesse the story. My characters might not have seemed as real to the final audience.

We always say that writing is a solitary profession, and for the most part it is. I'm the one who put those words on the page. I had to suffer through countless edits and tweaks as I worked to make the wording just right, but I didn't do it all alone. I have a phalanx of loved ones and supporters who also want my book to be all it can be, and who are willing to give suggestions and feedback to help me accomplish that goal. And I've had other writers, those who are smarter and better at the craft than I am, who have helped me reach this place in my writing career, and who continue to support and cheer me on.

Because of that, I know I need to do the same. Though I've been talking about starting a local writing group since late last summer, we finally pulled a few women together last month and met to try and make something happen. We've each been in touch with additional people, and hope that in a few months we'll have enough dedicated writers to create an official chapter of the League of Utah Writers. But if that doesn't happen, I now have a core group of at least three other women living near me who want to take this writing thing seriously. They're all extremely talented, so I know we'll all have something to contribute to the group.

When a job is as solitary as writing a book, it takes a cadre of friends to help us reach our goals.


Rebecca Talley said...

I agree. Great post!

chris weigand said...

Well said. And I have found two groups with which I spend time working on my writing with. One we get together and just write, with no family or household interuptions, a nice way to get a lot of writing done with someone who understands. My other group is a critique group, there are four of us and we get together once a week to critique each other's work. Again it is nice because it is other writers, who understand and know about writing.

Gregg said...

We all need people to help and support us no matter what we do. The sucessful people surround themselves with those who can help acheive goals. Good luck!

Christine Thackeray said...

That is so true. Certainly, a cadre (love that word.)

Danyelle Ferguson said...

Very well said, Heather. I totally agree!