Say What? | Katherine Jenkins, On Writing

Hi guys!

It turns out I have a guest post this month for you after all! It is, granted, an old one, written in 2012 for your’s truly, when I blogged elsewhere. But the things  Katherine Jenkins, author of the book “Lessons From the Monk I Married,” has to say about the process of writing a book are fresh and still relevant!

Katherine Jenkins spent time as an ESL teacher in Asia. She blogs over at Lessons From the Monk I Married as well as Writer’s Rising. Her book, Lessons From the Monk I Married, was published by Seal Press/Perseus Books in the spring of 2012. She’s got some pertinent talking points for new writers on the market for publishers. So, without further ado…

Writing a Book is Not a Walk in the Park
lessonsSo you want to be a published author? Are you willing to commit your life to it? Are you willing to put your children, husband, social life and everything else on the back burner for it? Are you willing to sit at your computer for LONG hours writing endlessly with very little social contact.The reason I love blogging is that it’s so interactive. I write something, you write something and we have this nice, little exchange. There’s none of that with book writing, apart from the feedback you receive from you editor. Whatever subject you choose to write on, be prepared to be stuck with that subject for one, two or even ten years in some cases. By the end of it, regardless of how much you LOVE your topic, I guarantee you’ll be saying, “I’m so sick of writing about this I could SCREAM!” or “This is SO BAD, who on earth is going to read it?!”I became consumed with the idea of writing this particular book years ago. I imagined I would write it during a few lovely weeks at my family’s lake house. I’d sit out on the picnic table in the sun, birds would chirp around me as I loving put my life down in words.

 

Boy was that dream shattered quickly. First of all, forget the book. If you are going to traditionally publish any work of nonfiction, you need a proposal. Mine was around 95 pages and included my book concept, a marketing plan, sample chapters, production details, a section on the competition and a section on how the book would be promoted. I knew nothing about this when I started. I had to find it all out online and through books as I bumped along the road to publishing. I spent the good part of a year just writing the proposal. I hadn’t even gotten to the book yet. Nonfiction Book Proposals Anybody Can Write by Elizabeth Lyon became my bible. In the early stages, I hired a writing coach in Seattle at The Seattle Writer’s Workshop who gave constructive feedback on my proposal and, more than anything, helped me stay on task by holding me to deadlines.

 

My husband, the former monk turned yoga teacher, played an important role in this process, too. He was my sounding board, my life coach and my cheerleader. His calming nature and belief in what I was doing really helped me get through it. He’d sit for hours listening to me read back what I had written. During a private yoga session with a client who already had two books under her belt, he got word of a freelance editor in Seattle who used to be an acquisitions editor at a major publishing house. While we were out staining our fence one hot, summer afternoon, he said, “You really should call that woman.” So I did and I’m so glad I did.

It helped to work with a freelance editor who had been on the other side of publishing. I learned so much from her. She helped me refine my proposal. The thing is, working with a freelance editor is not cheap and there are no guarantees. You could spend a great deal of money on advice, coaching and editing and still not have a book deal in the end.

 

I believed with every once of my being that it would become a book. I never veered once from that goal.

As many before me have probably mentioned, a lot of it has to do with timing. But more than timing, you need serious commitment. If you are really committed to your project, you must be willing to take whatever time and whatever measures are needed to see it become a book. You need to believe in what you are writing about and it helps if you have a reason for writing it or an author’s purpose. In my case, I’m writing my story because I believe I have something important to share that will help others realize their own purpose or potential.

On occasion, my husband entered my writing room and found me, head on the keyboard, completely burned out from writing. In most cases, I hadn’t showered, eaten, nor seen the light of day. He had to wing it for meals and housekeeping often went by the wayside. But he never complained. Instead, he came over to the computer, kissed me and said, “I’m proud of you, you are doing a great job,” or he gently let me know that I should turn off the computer and come to bed.

After several years, and through what I call “some mysterious workings of the universe,” I not only received agent representation, but I also a got a book deal. Some of my friends believe it happened a little too easily for me, but what they can’t see is that I put in a lot of legwork. I believed, with every ounce of my being, that it would become a book. I never veered once from this goal. I put every single ounce of myself into it. It was not a walk in the park. In fact, while writing my story, I had to relive quite a bit of pain and I often wondered why I was putting myself through it all again.

I’ve finally finished writing the book, 287 some pages of it. No, it was definitely NOT a walk in the park, but neither is life. And, truthfully, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

You can purchase Katherine’s book, “Lessons From the Monk I Married” on Amazon.

 

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2 thoughts on “Say What? | Katherine Jenkins, On Writing

  1. This is a great post and as you say, timeless. I love the line you highlight, “I believe with every ounce of my being that it would become a book. I never veered once from that goal.” That determination was the key factor. That is what I need. I got the supportive husband (not a former monk) but I’m broke to the bone. No matter. I am committed to the project.

    Liked by 1 person

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