Like any other project, I cannot just dive right into it. It's the same with studying Spanish or building a model or learning to drive. There's homework that comes first to build up my skills and to learn how to structure the project.
My new project is writing another book. It will be about my parents, who lived into their nineties with healthy minds and bodies. The focus will be the funny, idiosyncratic things they did that made us laugh and remember them, before the caregiving started. That last part will have to be in there too, since the point of the book will be that I had a memory bank to draw from when the tables reversed themselves and things got rough.
I thought I was ready to begin writing. I have all the notes and journals I kept for those last years of their lives, right up until they passed away almost exactly one year apart. But I wasn't ready. I hadn't done all my homework.
I had not READ some of the books published about caring for elderly parents. Naturally, I don't intend to READ them all, but at least some that deal with the same subject about making difficult decisions with two remaining parents, then one. So I ordered a few of them to see how they were structured and whether I had anything new to say. So far, my story and my viewpoint will be unique, as it should be. I am different, and so were my parents, from any of the other characters whose stories I have read. A publisher wants a new twist, even if it is an old story.
I had also not done the 'RITHMETIC necessary before starting this project. I had records from my previous publisher about the sasles and expenses of my first book (MINOR LEAGUE MOM: A MOTHER'S JOURNEY THROUGH THE RED SOX FARM TEAMS), published by Barking Cat Books, a division of New River Press. I knew I had to sell virtually the entire first printing of that book before we broke even. Our goal is in sight.
But the preparation for writing meant creating a data base ('RITHMETIC) for the next book. I have now spent forty-five days putting lists together: names, addresses, emails of people who bought the book; contacts for bookstores, libraries, clubs, colleges, where I have appeared for book signings and where I hope to appear; invitation lists for book signings, etc., etc. There are over 1,000 listings so far, not including my publicist's.
Finally, when these homework steps are complete, I will begin 'RITING. 'RITING the first draft from the journals I kept will be fun. I anticipate that the storytelling will flow easily. After all, I knew the subjects intimately, since it will be a memoir. Revisions and redrafts will follow.
When the manuscript is complete, that's when the hard work really begins. Finding a publisher interested in the story is like finding a needle in a haystack. Only perseverance and luck will make it happen. And then comes the marketing, after I sign on the dotted line. That's when all the homework will pay off.