My husband, Mark, and I are writing books—he’s writing one and I’m writing two. So, our home has become a book-production factory.
By factory, I mean sweat shop.
Mark’s book is called “Serious About Retiring.” It’s a guidebook for people who are close to retiring or have just retired.
I’m juggling two books. One is a whimsical picture book about marriage—”Grow Old with Me.” The other book is a quasi-memoir about my late brother who was a war correspondent in the early years of America’s Vietnam War. I’m writing it in “collaboration” with him—so this book gives the term “ghost written” a whole new meaning.
You might think that writing is all about creativity and inspiration, that beautiful words flow off the pen (or word processor), and that when you reach 200 pages, you send it to the presses and you have a book. I wish it were so. Writing a book is hard labor.
Mark and I have been working on all three books for a very, very long time—I started the book on my brother almost three decades ago! All three books have gone through scores of incarnations.
It’s all about revising…and revising…and revising.
What if you were making a pot of soup the way you write a book? Let’s say you start out making chicken soup. You put in chicken, water, an assortment of vegetables, and various spices. But then you think—no, this isn’t quite right. So you take out the chicken and you lift out some of the vegetables. Instead, you put in potatoes and other vegetables. Then you think—no, this isn’t right, so you move those vegetables out and maybe put in some beef…
Finally you taste the soup and you say—this isn’t chicken soup, this is butternut squash soup. Should I add some chicken?
Of course, when you’re making soup, you can’t really take out and swap ingredients. But when you’re word processing a book, you can take stuff out and add stuff and do this over and over. Forever.
What this means is—when I write one book, I’m really writing 100 books.
The next time you’re reading a book, you might wonder—what happened to the 99 books that dropped out along the way?
Lucy Rose Fischer is an author and artist living in Minnesota. Her most recent book is a whimsical picture book, I’m New at Being Old, which received a Midwest Book Award and an Independent Publishers Gold Award.
Photos courtesy of Lucy Rose Fischer