Archive for February 5th, 2008

My New (Old) Bangs

Nothing like some bangs to take a few years off. I was getting tired of watching my forehead wrinkle anyway. And I think that this style of headshot is much more flattering than the real thing. 🙂

Christina Katz

On the Nonfiction Book Writing Process: Part Two

For anyone who thinks that writing fiction or creative nonfiction or personal essay is more creative than non-fiction, I’ve got news for you. Writing non-fiction is equally as creative, perhaps just in different ways.

Structuring a nonfiction book is extremely exciting. What, you don’t believe me? Is it because someone told you that writing a nonfiction book is about creating an outline and then following it? I wonder how far I’d get reading a book like that. Probably not very far. I mean, where’s the surprise? Where’s the adventure?

And certainly a book may start out that way, but I bet not many end up that way…by the time their editor gets done with them. Unless of course a lot of care and creativity have gone into the outline.

Here I am two weeks out from my deadline, when a recommended book from my editor at Writer’s Digest has completely changed my perspective about the structure of sections two and three of my book.

Am I upset? No. I’m glad. Tremendously glad. Because I could feel that what was working in section one was not working in sections two and three and I had to abandon the idea that they would be written in a similar way.

This is all part of the adventure of sculpting a nonfiction book. There’s my rhythm in writing it, but there is also the rhythm or “shape” (as we called it in graduate school) of the story. And even in nonfiction, there is a story. And certainly, since I’m trained in nonfiction, I tend to write nonfiction that has a story, even while I’m writing instructional how-to.

Of course, my hope is that by caring so much about the shape of the story that all my efforts will translate into a better book. A more readable book. A more helpful book. The kind of book a reader want to read in one fell swoop.

For me writing really is a lot more like chiseling away until I find the shape underneath. Allowing thoughtful input. Being willing to follow my instincts. Staying focused on the reader. And staying with it until it’s the best book I can write.

I’m generally a pretty slow writer, though I have my moments. I have friends in the biz who can easily write three or four times as fast as me. But I trust and enjoy my process as slow and sometimes surprising as it is.

I know that the renewed excitement I feel translates on the page. And it’s important for all writers to find that kind of upbeat in their writing because the reader can feel it too.

Happy writing, mamas!

Quote from Lee Silber: Author of Books for Right-brain People

Do the right thing—always. Less stuff equals less stress. It’s better to be organized than disorganized. Don’t wait till the last minute, finish what you start and end the day on a high note. Concentrate on the task at hand—free of fear and worry. Surround yourself with as many positive people as possible. Hope for the best, but expect less from others. Have a clear vision for what you want your life to be like. Know who you are and what you stand for—and don’t get off track. Know your strengths and use them. I could go on but I’m afraid Stephen King will come along and hack this—and me—to pieces.

—Lee Silber’s E-mail newsletter

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