About my book.

question-marks-over-book-yellow-hovering-open-81511615

For a couple of years now, I’ve talked about writing a book.    Writing and publishing a book has always been a dream of mine,  but getting motivated enough or knowing what I wanted to write about has always been an issue for me.

My book won’t be fiction because I’m really bad at fiction and can never seem to think of a viable beginning or end that doesn’t seem contrived.   My one attempt to write a book of fiction (in 2003) was a disaster and I hated all my characters.   It was self-indulgent, full of cliches, stilted dialogue, and uninteresting and unlikable characters who always seemed to be arguing about nothing.  To this day I can’t tell you what the book was about, because I don’t know.   I have no idea how to plot a novel, although I have read hundreds of novels by others who do know how to plot them.  It’s simply not something I have any talent for.

For some reason, I never threw that manuscript away (I spent too much time writing it) but I don’t look at it and never will again.  Its 300 plus pages sit in a tattered cardboard box in the farthest corner in the back of a closet.  The one time I tried to reread what I’d written, I cringed at how atrocious it was.    It was that bad.   I sent it to several publishers who also thought it was that bad – and sent it back to me with a polite rejection note.

The dilemma I’m facing (besides lack of time and drive) is what the topic of my book would be.    I think I’ve finally narrowed it down to two things.

Let me say straight out that my book will not be about narcissistic abuse, narcissistic personality disorder, borderline personality disorder, or anything related to personality disorders, C-PTSD, codependency, or dysfunctional families or relationships.   Although this blog has been primarily about those things (at least until recently), I don’t feel comfortable writing a book covering anything in this field for at least four reasons.

First, there are many bloggers who have already written books about narcissism and narcissistic abuse, and many have done it better than I think I could.    I don’t even think this is one of the best blogs that ever covered narcissistic abuse.   Second, since I’ve moved on in my recovery,  I’m less passionate about this problem than I used to be.   I feel like anything that needed to be said, I’ve already said — or others have said better.   That doesn’t mean it’s not an important issue — it definitely is, but I feel like my passion for it isn’t there anymore.   Third, I’m afraid that delving into a personal account of my own life with a narcissistic family and husband — or my mental disorders that were caused by that — will be too triggering and send me back down the rabbit hole, a place I’ve gratefully left behind.  At first, it helped me to talk about it, and to find that I wasn’t alone.   Without that outlet and this blog, I would never have discovered things about myself I needed to change.    So I’m grateful for that, but I’m not in the same head space I was two years ago.  Therapy is quite enough for me right now and is intense enough as it is.  I no longer have any desire to dwell on the trauma I had to deal with just to have something to write about.   There are other things I prefer to write about now that make me feel better.  Fourth, I’m not a mental health professional and would feel like something of a fraud were I to write a self-help book for others, even though I know quite a bit about personality disorders, enough to write such a book.

So, what would my book be about, if it’s not going to be a novel or a book about personality disorders or narcissistic abuse?

I feel like I’m strong at writing opinion and humor.  Short little essays and anecdotes that give readers a window into the way I look at life — both the big and small things.    I enjoy writing posts like these.  My last post, “My Problem With Pens,” was one of the most enjoyable posts I’ve written in a long time.    I like that kind of writing and I want to do more of it.   No, I’ll probably never be the next David Sedaris or Augusten Burroughs, but I love creative writing and I can write humor.   I think I’m good enough at it to compile my best essays (both humorous and more serious) into a small book.    I’ve written a number of those kind of posts on this blog already,  but I never realized until recently that was actually my strongest writing.  Because I never focused on those types of posts and never made a section for them in the header or compiled a list of links, it will take some time to go through this blog and pull out all the titles and then decide which ones to use (and probably add some new ones to flesh out the book and give readers of this blog something new to read).

The only problem with writing a book like that is I’m not already a “name” (unless you count blog ownership as a kind of qualification), and compilations of essays usually sell best when written by someone already well-known for something else.    But I’m not expecting to make a million dollars or for the book to catapult me to sudden fame and a review in the New York Times Review of Books.  Not even close.    I could probably make more money writing a book about having been raised by narcissists, having BPD or C-PTSD, or writing a self help book about how to deal with abusers.   I could probably even sell more books writing about mindfulness techniques and developing empathy for people with Cluster B disorders.  But I don’t want to write a book like that.   I want to have fun writing my book, and this is why I’ve decided to write a compilation of my observations, opinions, and humorous little anecdotes.

There’s another topic I’ve been thinking about writing a book about:  handling Internet trolls and bullies.   Obviously, that’s related to narcissistic abuse, but it’s a narrower and more focused topic and doesn’t require me to delve into my deep past and retrigger ancient memories.    I’ve definitely been a victim of Internet bullying (most of us bloggers have, unfortunately) and I have experience now in how to deal with them — enough experience to be able to help others.   Any book I write about Internet troublemakers would be mostly a compilation of some of the posts and numbered lists I’ve already written for this blog.    Someone told me I had one of the most comprehensive lists of articles about Internet trolls and how to handle them they’d ever seen, and that got me thinking that maybe I ought to publish an actual book about it.

Very soon, I will need to lay off blogging and start compiling posts and writing new ones for a book.  I wish I had time to do both, but the need to keep a roof over my head and food in my fridge makes doing both nearly impossible.

What would you rather see me write about first?  A book of observations, opinions, essays, and humor; or a book about handling trolls and online bullies?

My next step.

next_step

I’ve always wanted to write a book.   I actually did write a novel, back in 2003, but it sucked and was rejected by several publishers.    It didn’t take me too long to give up trying to get it published.

Today that novel sits in a cardboard box in the back of a closet.  It’s been sitting in that box for 13 years, its 300+ pages becoming brittle with age and the corners of the box  it dwells in now bent and taped together.  A few years ago I pulled out the typewritten pages and re-read the novel.   I cringed with embarrassment over how bad it was.  Not just bad, but atrocious.   It was shallow, self-indulgent, had no flow; was full of cliches, stilted dialogue,  and purple prose; and populated with unlikable, annoying characters.  It will probably never see the light of day again and most certainly will never be published.  But I still can’t bring myself to toss it out with the recycling.  If nothing else, it’s a reminder that I can finish something that I started.

I’ve done a lot of writing in my life, but that one shitty novel was my only attempt to write an actual book.   Although I’ve always wanted to write a book, it just seems so daunting.  I always find excuses:  it would take too long, I don’t have time, it wouldn’t be any good, I’m not really that good a writer, no one would read it, I’m bad with opening paragraphs, I’m bad with endings, I don’t have the money, I don’t have good ideas.

But excuses are just lies you tell yourself.   None of the aforementioned items have any truth to back them up.  I have a blog and a following, these days you can self-publish an eBook on Kindle at little to no cost (a print version can always come later), and after a year and a half of blogging, my writing has vastly improved.   Some days I have so many ideas for new posts that it makes my head spin.  I spend most of my free time writing anyway, so why am I not writing a book?  I really can’t think of any good reasons not to.

So I know what my next step must be.   I  haven’t yet decided whether I’ll do a compilation of my best or most popular posts, or write something from scratch.   I have a feeling I’ll go with the latter, but might incorporate a few of my blog posts into it.   I haven’t decided what my book will be about yet either, even though I do know it will be connected to this blog’s content in some way.

One thing that’s stopped me before is the thought of having to write hundreds of pages of prose.  But with an eBook or even if I self-publish a print version (which I think costs money but I’m not sure), I don’t have to write something that long.  I’ve read or reviewed a few books that were self published by bloggers, and few exceed 100 pages.

Another thing that makes writing a book seem like a chore is the lack of immediacy.   When you write a blog post, you get instant feedback.  Likes, comments, and views start coming almost from the minute you hit Publish.   You can monitor your stats after a very short time.   With writing a book, no one sees it until it’s published, and that could take a long time.   I’m not a patient person, and I hate having to wait for feedback.  But that doesn’t seem like a valid reason not to write one.

So all I have to do is make the choice to sit down and instead of opening up WordPress to write a new blog post, open up Kindle instead and write the first paragraph of my book.  I never thought I’d start a blog either, and one day I just decided to do it.   I think that’s how writing a book is going to work too.

When I do start to write, I will probably not be able to write new blog posts as often and might even have to take a break from it to concentrate on the book, but I’ll let everyone know when that happens.

What should I write a book about?

If I write the memoir, think Running With Scissors by Augusten Burroughs. It was both tragic and one of the most hilarious books I ever read. I have to read it again. I just ordered a copy.  I might review it in a future post.