Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Monday, March 13, 2006

Bright shiny new books

The top three questions I’m asked at book signings—other than, “Do you know where I can find the Anita Stansfield books?"—are: How long does it take you to write a book? Where do you get your ideas? and, When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

My typical answers are: Three to six months. Getting the ideas isn’t the hard part, it’s capturing them that makes me sweat. and, I’m still not sure I want to be a writer.

The truth is that all of these questions are really asking one thing. Do you think I could be a writer too?

People see you with your stack of bright shiny new books. They see you sign your name inside the bright shiny new books. If you’re lucky they see you actually sell one of your bright shiny new books. They imagine that you must be making a bundle of money from your bright shiny new books. (I ask the teller at the bank to give me my royalty check in ones, just so I can truthfully say I make a bundle of money. And even then, it’s not nearly as big a bundle as you might think.) And they want to know if they can write bright shiny new books too.

The short answer is yes. Anyone with enough determination can write a book. For some people that’s all they need to know. The guy with the stack of bright shiny new books (and that stack really doesn’t seem to be getting a whole lot smaller throughout the course of the signing) said that I can write a book too. I’m happy. I can leave now. If that’s all you needed to know, you can quit reading here and go merrily along your way. Really, stop now. You’ll be happier. Don’t even scroll to the next line.

Stop. I’m warning you.

Last chance.

Okay fine. You decided to read on. Don’t blame me if you lose the warm fuzzies you had up above.

I’ll let you in on a secret. The people who walked away happy with the above message will probably never write a bright shiny new book. They didn’t really want to anyway. They just wanted the reassurance that they could. There’s nothing wrong with that. I’d like to play lead guitar in a rock band. I’d like to play short stop for a major league baseball team (except for the Yankees. I hate the Yankees.) I’d like to play the romantic lead in a Hollywood movie opposite Meg Ryan. But I can say with 100% confidence that I will never do those things.

Why? Lack of talent? Maybe, although I did have the lead in my college production of 84 Charing Cross Road and I did learn to play Sandman by America on my old acoustic six string. Lack of opportunity? Also a maybe. Sometimes it’s about who you know or who your parents are or whether you are genetically capable of hitting a 70mph curveball. But mostly it’s because I chose not to put the time and effort required into those accomplishments. It wasn’t a high enough priority.

That’s the deal with writing too. It takes time and it takes desire and it takes at least a little bit of talent. Lots of people have the talent, but few of them have the desire to put in the time. I’m not one of those people who can truthfully say writing is like breathing for me. If I didn’t write I wouldn’t die. But I can truthfully say that I want to write badly enough that I put it before things like TV and computer solitaire. I write enough that my kids know when I am working on my latest book. I take my laptop with me on vacations. I am currently on a business trip in Atlanta, and guess what I am doing when I finish this BLOG?

There is a class in almost every writing seminar I attend called how to make time for writing. That really cracks me up. It’s so obvious. EVERYONE has time to write. Let me repeat myself. EVERYONE has time to write. Did you read the latest Harry Potter book or any Dan Brown book or any Anita Stansfield book? Do you know who the final contestants are in American Idol? Did you get more than six hour of sleep last night? Did you do anything other than eat the last time you had lunch? Show me a person who doesn’t have a single spare minute in their entire week and I will put their picture right above my computer next to all the other saints there. (OK actually it’s more like Homer Simpson, a bobble head turtle, and a Barry Zito action figure. But still it’s a spot of honor.) Then I’ll ask them how they found time to read this BLOG.

If you don’t take the time to write. Don’t feel bad. It just means that it’s not a priority for you right now. Nothing wrong with that. I didn’t write my first book until I was almost forty. I didn’t plan on being a writer. And I still don’t know if it’s really worth it.

But if you do want to write, start now. Close this BLOG and open Word. Or Word Perfect. Or MS works. Or notepad. Or open a real notepad and get a pencil. Think to yourself, what’s the worst thing that could happen to me? What would I do about it? Or what’s the best thing that could happen to me? How could it happen? Or what’s the most valuable thing in the world to me? What if I lost it? Then, write about it. Will it stink up the entire house? Probably. Every author goes through a time where their writing stinks up the house. The difference between those who write and those who don’t write is that the writers keep on writing and pretty soon their story doesn’t stink so bad.

Oh and by the way, I’m Jeff Savage—dad of four, full time national sales manager for a software company, occasional jogger, frequent camper and fisherman, Primary teacher, and husband of the most wonderful woman in the world. And I write.

As a side note regarding the title of this BLOG, we had another writer lined up to join us, so they were the six LDS writers and I got play the part of the frog. Ribbet. Ribbet. But then he couldn’t make it. Turns out he lined up a gig playing short stop for the Yankees. That means I got promoted—at least until they find another writer.


At 3/13/2006 8:47 PM, Blogger Sariah S. Wilson said...

So now I'm feeling all guilty that I'm reading your post instead of writing...*sigh*.

And how for the love of Pete do you get a book done in three months? You must share this information.

At 3/14/2006 12:16 AM, Blogger Jeff Savage said...

Ahh, but you've completed books so you don't have to feel guilty. Writing a book in three months is a piece of cake if you know what you are going to write. 1,000 words a day 5 days a week and 2500 on Saturdays and you're all set. Sounds so easy when you say it like that huh?

At 3/19/2006 1:01 PM, Blogger Josué said...

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