(Or I’m Bored. I think I’ll write a book.)
By Eleanor Shelton
My mother and father have been living in Turkey stuck after the pandemic shut everything down. A Covid vacation, if you will. During my last phone call with my mother, she said, “Well, I’ve read all the books I brought. I might as well write one.”
We’ve all heard it. The second we disclose that we are writers, the response is often, “I’ve always wanted to write a book.” Or the one I love, “I could write a book. How hard can it be?” Sure, some of us can crank out a book a year, but some of us have to spend time researching. Most of us are also juggling homes, families, and regularly paying jobs in addition to finding time to write.
And then there is the editing. The revising. The critique readers.
She says the book will be like Under the Tuscan Sun and My Year in Provence. I’ll write it as a series of essays about being stuck in paradise. “It’ll be fun!” my mother quipped. “Books about the Mediterranean are popular,” she said. It slid off her tongue as easily as if she said, “I’m going to plant an herb garden,” or “your father is finally doing his own laundry.”
My mother thinks, like a lot of people, writing a book is easy. It’s so easy. You sit down for maybe a few days or, heaven forbid, a week, crank it out, then a few months later, you are Number One on the New York Times bestsellers list. Maybe, a couple days later, your book is in a bidding war in Hollywood. Perhaps Brad Pitt will play the leading role.
Ahh, the dreams . . .
I’ve been struggling with writing a book (OK, maybe two) for almost a decade. The amount of time it takes to write and write well is well extended and intense. It’s hour by hour, day by day, year by year, a gauntlet of trials and tribulations, rejections, and beta readers. It’s not a wing and a prayer. If it was, everyone would be writing the next great American novel.
But, if writing was so easy, my guess is instead of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, we would have Strawberry Gin By . . . somebody. It might not be a bad story.
Ninety-seven percent of people who begin writing a book will never complete it. And of the people who do finish, less than one percent get traditionally published. The odds really stink. So, to my mother, who blithely thinks she will complete a novel and then get it publishe . . . well, who knows, she might just do it.
There will be no living with her then.