Chances are that if you haven’t already, writing a book is on your bucket list. According to a recent survey 81% of Americans want to write a book before they die. But few will actually follow through. In fact, only 10% of them will ever start one and only 5% of those wannabe novelists will finish it. And of those thousands of completed manuscripts, only 2% will end up on bookshelves.
I posted these numbers to my Facebook profile a while back and reactions to these assertions were very telling. Some of my friends gave the stats a happy thumbs up, secure in the knowledge that if they chose to, they would surely be amongst the 2% of writers whose books would end up on bookshelves. My writer friends, who are members of the elite group of people who have started and finished at least one book, proudly listed just exactly how many they’d written eager to share the details of their dedication to the craft.
Then there were the bloggers, journalists and non-fiction writers who wanted to know if writing dozens of non-fiction articles “counted” – after all, they’d written just as many pages as the fiction writers, and, finally, there were the doubters who were rather put off by these claims – surely they could write a book if they tried. They just hadn’t had the time to do so.
So why do so many people want to write a book? Some feel they have ideas or a message that need to be shared. Others want to leave a legacy of thoughts and ideas that will remain long after they’re dead, and, as it turns out, most have an idealized idea of what the writing life is like and imagine themselves making their own hours, writing in cafés or under a palm tree in a sunny destination, cocktail in hand.
I must admit, a part of me has always belonged to the latter group. The idea of the writer’s life appeals to me. I like sitting in my pajamas, coffee cup in hand, imagining beautiful, spunky heroines and sexy, to-die-for heroes. And I do, on occasion, sit in a café to write, all the while soaking in the hangout’s colorful vibe. I’ve even had the good fortune of writing while sipping cocktails under a palm tree.
In fact, in the last 10 years, I’ve written just about everywhere I’ve been. Waiting rooms, buses, planes, cafés, on the corner of the kitchen table and, yes, ocean side. But the reality is that I’ve done most of my writing in my home office, butt in chair for hours on end, after working well over 40 hours at my day job while others slept, relaxed or socialized. There’s a difference between loving the idea of doing something and actually doing it.
Writing a book is slow, hard work, and a terrible return on investment. It took me two years to write my latest book and so far, I’ve made a whopping 10$ from my fiction for a short story I contributed to an anthology. And yet, there’s nothing I’d rather do. And in a few short weeks, I will join the ranks of the 2% of writers whose books make it onto bookshelves and I couldn’t be happier.
A true writer is someone that can’t not write. It is someone who writes for the pleasure of losing themselves in the worlds they create. Think you have a book in you? Then start writing. And if you lose yourself in the world you’ve created without expecting anything more than the fulfillment of giving the voices in your head a home, you’ll know you’ve found your true calling.
Méline Nadeau’s début novel Hot Off the Press is available for preorder on Amazon.com. http://www.amazon.com/Hot-Off-The-Press-ebook/dp/B008195HTG/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1336605558&sr=8-1