Lessons I Learned with My First Book

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Finishing a first book is like ramming an icebreaker ship through unforgiving ice. Or making a path through three feet of snow. Or knowing the direction to travel through the woods but spending most of the hike looking for the trail, having overfilled your backpack.

A first book is rarely a direct path from start to finish. And it’s hard work.

“A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.” ~Thomas Mann

What I learned with my first book

  • You’re going to do it wrong more times than you can count before you do it right.
  • You will write inefficiently, even with a plan.
  • Everything will take many times longer than you think.
  • You’re going to redo and redo and redo. And redo.
  • When you’ve researched your facts and grammar ad nauseam, you’re going to re-research them. (Wait. That could just be me.)
  • When you have your FINAL file for publication, you’re going to make two more FINAL files because you found something.

“I was working on the proof of one of my poems all the morning and took out a comma. In the afternoon–well, I put it back again.” ~Oscar Wilde

MyBTP-ms-FB-PaintBut there’s a bright side. Things improve with the second book because the ice is broken (don’t let it freeze solid by waiting too long before writing again), the path through the snow is cut, and the hiking trail is blazed.

Even if the second book is quite different, you have a better sense for how to do it without taking so many tangents and unwanted scenic routes. Some things have to be experienced to be learned.

“Easy reading is damn hard writing.” ~*Thomas Hood/ Nathaniel Hawthorne

Other discoveries

  • In my attempts to win my NaNoWriMo badge for 50,000 words in 30 days, I learned that some books are easier to write than others.
  • The process of production is harder than writing the book.
  • Returning to writing after editing, proofreading, and production is intensely refreshing because you don’t have to be “on” and alert all the time. You can drink wine and work late at night with eye strain again, because if you’ve dropped an “ed,” missed an end quote, or overlooked a typo, you’ll pick it up on a subsequent pass.

Which reminds me–I believe I have a book to write. Cheerio.

Jump to

Making the Jump from Book One to Book Two

In Revolt: Handling Writer’s Burnout

More quotes

*This quote is commonly attributed to Nathaniel Hawthorne; however, Quote Investigatorprovisionally credit[s] Thomas Hood with the version of the maxim he used in 1837” (via Susanna J. Sturgis). See also Easy Reading is Damn Hard Writing in Writingfeemail’s Blog.

About Eva Blaskovic

I am a multi-genre author of literary fiction and fantasy, and writer of non-fiction articles on parenting, writing, education, health, and travel. My background encompasses both the sciences and the arts. I teach at a specialized clinic for learning disabilities and mentor young authors. In addition to writing and teaching, my passions are weather, Indian food, gardening, and music. I have played eight musical instruments and spent many years immersed in taekwondo and karate. In my youth, I was an avid canoeist. I was born in Prague, Czech Republic, grew up in Ontario, Canada, and moved to Alberta in 1988, where I raised four children.
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4 Responses to Lessons I Learned with My First Book

  1. Pingback: Making the Jump from Book One to Book Two | Beyond the Precipice

  2. Pingback: A Professional Author: What’s Involved | Beyond the Precipice

  3. Great post! May there be many follow ups to this first publication! Renee Johnson

    Liked by 1 person

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