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On Being a Writer

In the first grade, I wrote a short (short) story about a cigarette-smoking goat driving a car. In the 6th grade, I sent a national magazine a handwritten short story manuscript about a young girl whose family moved too often for her to make and keep friends. I have the notebook with the goat story. I wish I had a copy of the story or at least the rejection letter. Both were early signs I was destined to be a writer.

Fast forward over seventy years, and still I write. Much of my writing compulsion has been channeled into songs. Thanks to Garth Brooks (see the About Me section of this blog) and the fact he and I cowrote “Burning Bridges”, a song on his Ropin’ the Wind album, I am recognized as a songwriter. However, considering the multitude of words and the years of songwriting, that is a small measure of success. At least, that is how it seems to me this morning. When asked about my bookwriting, I have nothing concrete to share. (Should you want to hear any of my cowritten songs, go to the Stephanie C Brown Song page.)

For the last two years, I have focused on writing books. For the last year, I have Zoomed for from two to four hours a day with a group of Women’s Fiction Writers Association writers. My friends know this. I am beginning to be questioned. Surely after so long, I have books for them to read, in fact, for them to order. Sadly, no. By way of explanation for my lack of anything to share, I liken my current book writing to my early days of songwriting, I wrote hundreds of songs before Garth recorded one he and I wrote, thus, validating me as a songwriter.

In the last year, I have written four complete or partial rough drafts. Maybe, but a big maybe, the one I am currently working on is good enough to carry through revising, editing, and querying. If I write a thousand words a day, which is not easy, this first draft might be finished by the first of March. If you are my friend and waiting, be prepared for an even longer wait before the book is available. I am totally overwhelmed knowing what I know that my friends probably do not know. The first draft is but one step and not even the most daunting or even the most time-consuming. Even with magical intervention, 2024 would be a remarkably soon date of publication.

An eighty-five-thousand word book is much more complex than a song. I will revise by rearranging, adding, and taking away words to the best of my ability, and then aided by peers and beta readers, I will revise likely many more multiple times. Then the editing will begin. Unless I am incredible lucky (Have I mentioned luck or magic?), I will have to hire an editor. In a perfect world by some magical coincidence, an agent or a publisher would have read my revised and self-edited book and loved my writing so much that they would hold my hand the rest of the way, and together we would deliver the perfect, soon to be a blockbuster, book to the bookstores, perhaps as early as 2024.

Once the whatever current version has been critiqued by beta readers and my peers and edited to the best of my and the editor I will have hired abilities, the querying to agents or small publishing companies begins. There is no time frame for that. To be honest, I am not sure of the rest of the process. In fact, I am not sure of up to this point. Once the book is out of my hands, I am counting on if not magical intervention, at least a helping hand from destiny or fate for it to find its way. Should that not be the case, I will not feel my time has been wasted. Perhaps, only another writer understands that. In the meantime, I will continue writing new and revising old rough drafts. A writer’s writing never stops.

If my friends wonder why I spend at least twenty hours a week writing, neither I nor that six-year-old girl writing about a cigarette-smoking goat has an answer. Just don’t expect signed copies of my book any time soon.

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