With the advent of the internet and modern technology publishing a book should be easy or so we are told. That may be true once you’ve written your tale but no-one tells you how difficult it can be to hone your story ready for publication. I will never be able to pick up an autobiography again without empathizing with the author as to how much work it took them or how hard it is.
A few years ago I was asked to write a book about my experiences from the train crash, surviving and recovering. I thought it might be a good idea as, when I was publicly campaigning for greater rail safety, I felt I had to keep my personal opinions to myself and not share my private observations so as not to detract from the campaigns’ aims and goals. I also wanted to truly feel that I had come through into a better place as felt honesty to readers was important. I have read other autobiographies which have then transpired not to be the truth or rather are a glossy version of what the writer would like to be the truth. I believe if you are going to share your story with others it should be warts and all and that takes a lot of soul-searching and self honesty which can be a daunting task.
Anyway, I sat down at my computer with the blank word screen staring at me and the cursor balefully blinking at me. ‘OK, let’s get started’ I thought but continued to stare at the screen. ‘Write something Pam’ was the next thought while flexing my fingers. Nothing, Nada, Zilch – I didn’t know where to start. I got up and walked away. After that I found a myriad of other things to do rather than tackle that blank screen again – my wardrobes have never been so organised before! This was much harder than I had ever anticipated.
Eventually I had to make myself religiously sit down at my screen and treat it as a job of work. This seemed to work as I started to type and, after a little teeth gritting and enforced labour, the words began to flow. Out they came and the screen began to fill with sentences, pages and chapters and I would plan how much I wanted to accomplish and when I wanted to complete the ‘book task’ by.
Having typed the last sentence I sat back duly pleased with myself. But was it any good? Would people want to read it? To answer these questions I passed my complete manuscript onto a friend of mine, Gareth, who has written several successful books himself. ‘It’s a good story Pam but it needs tidying up. It’s a bit all over the place at the moment’ was his considered opinion. Feeling I was too close to my own story to do this effectively I begged Gareth for his professional help to which (bless him) he agreed. And so we set about working together, going through each and every page, weighing up what it was I was saying, checking for flow and continuity, re-checking dates, facts and background information, the list went on. Backwards and forwards between the two of us that poor script went, batted around like a proverbial tennis ball until we were happy that it was in pretty good shape.
The next step was to send it into the publishing agent to see what they thought of it. ‘Very busy at the moment. It’ll be a little while before I can get to read it’ they stated so I waited at home with bated breath and a great deal of trepidation………..
Pam Warren’s new book – “From Behind the Mask” – Coming 4 March 2014 – The inspiring true story.