Go for a ride with me?
Gonna take an incremental journey....
We’re switching tracks a bit here at King’s Chronicles. You are getting to see a journey from its very beginning. In fact, you will help me by reading this journey, because you will help keep me on track. Because I’m putting it right out there in front of God and everybody (and you): I’m starting to write a book.
In a way, this isn’t new to me. I’ve written three books in the past, but one was a textbook and the other two were about obscurely narrow topics. While I’ve made part or all of my living writing for over 50 years, most of it has been “short form”—newspaper articles, magazine articles, etc. That trend has only deepened with the growth of the Internet, since it is so easy to make a blog post, write on Medium, or even write on Substack (where you’re reading this).
I have an idea that won’t let me go. Bestselling author John David Mann says, “I don’t believe you ‘come up’ with ideas. Mostly, I think you respond to them.” This feels that way. In fact, John is one of the people encouraging me to write this book.
I have three other books that have been in progress for a few years. I haven’t done any work on them in months. This is a different one, starting from scratch.
That’s where you come in.
I’m going to detail the book journey here. All the ugly parts. Books don’t come together easily. Some of them come into the world biting and scratching, fighting being born. I don’t know how this one is going to go. That’s part of the process. It’s also scary, putting it out there in public, because it’s possible this baby will be an ugly baby that no one wants to see. It could even be stillborn. I don’t want to take the metaphor too far, but emotionally it feels right. My instinct is to not tell anybody about it until it’s done.
So why am I telling you about it?
Because I think I’m likelier to actually do it, knowing I’ve told you I’m doing it. I don’t like having unfinished books.
In fact, I can think of two reasons I haven’t finished any of these in recent years.
As much as I enjoy writing, as much as it really is a part of me, I reached a point not too long ago where I would not write anything unless someone was paying me. In a way, that’s the danger of short form writing in the Internet age. When I first started writing (seems like I should have been using a quill pen), unless I was on staff somewhere all the businessy aspects of writing happened through the mail. You could wait weeks to get an acceptance on an article proposal, months to get the check, etc.
The Internet sped up every aspect of the businessy parts. I could propose an article in the morning, get it accepted in the afternoon, write it in the evening, publish it overnight, and get paid…. well, still, whenever the publisher got around to it, but much quicker thanks to Paypal.
Books take a long time to produce, so there is a much longer gap between effort and monetary result, or even between effort and publication. I got used to instant gratification.
But I also found I could scratch my writing itch with short forms, regardless of whether they made any money. I would be satisfied to bang out a newsletter on LinkedIn or one of the other platforms I had control over and then call it a day. (In fact, I have to be careful that writing this publication doesn’t get in the way of actually writing the book. But that’s a matter of forming the habit properly.) No one would know that I had stood up my date with the book manuscript.
So I’m undercutting that right now. I’m going to tell you where I am in the process. That means I will have to tell you if and when I’ve neglected it, and then I’ll have to hang my head in shame and get back to work.
Sausage making? Hard to look away….
I think it’s unusual for people to be able to watch the process, though, and so I hope that you will find it interesting to see how the sausage is made. Share it with your friends, will you? I’m not going to write here every day, because I need to spend most of my writing time on the book itself. But I will post regularly, at least once a week, and tell you what I’m doing, where I’m stuck, where I’m going next, etc.
Some of you may even get to read rough drafts and be a part of refining the book. (Rest assured, you will be in the acknowledgements.)
What’s the book going to be about, you ask? This, too, will be subject to refinement. But at this point I can tell you I have been inspired by the “business parables” of John David Mann, Bob Burg, Jeff West, and Lisa Wilber, among others. Parables can so easily be badly done, but those four have truly inspired me—and they actually talk to me! Others like Richard Fenton, Andrea Waltz, Og Mandino, George Clason, Spencer Johnson, and Ken Blanchard all show how to do it well. So that’s the form, a new way of writing a book for me.
I’ll tell you more about the 20,000 foot view in the next post. Right now, I have some outlining to do.
P.S. I will start a private Facebook group for folks who might want to interact more than we can on this newsletter platform. That’s another reason to subscribe, so you can find out how to join. But that will come next week.
If you’ve stumbled across this and want to continue getting updates, be sure to subscribe. Otherwise, you won’t know whether I crash and burn, will you?