1. decide you're going to write a book.Read the whole thing. Mafi continues on in increasingly hilarious -- and also sobering -- fashion. Society has a strange way of idolizing artists, of treating their struggles and yearnings and achievements as though they floated on some higher plane. The reality, of course, is a bit different. Not only is writing genre fiction difficult to master, let alone sell, we scribblers have to deal with a populace that seems to believe we've a screw or two (or twenty) loose. I've discovered a personal gift for inadvertently ending conversations with plot summaries; describing my "zombie WalMart love story" makes mouths snap shut with an almost-audible click. But perhaps stripping some of the romanticism away from the act of writing helps us approach it more seriously. Goodness knows the effort involved will sober us up on its own.
2. tell all of your family and friends you'll be writing a 'fiction novel', because it sounds fancier than 'book'.
3. figure it can't be difficult.
4. struggle to remember the few literary terms you picked up in college and/or high school.
5. use the words 'protagonist', 'plot', and 'fiction novel' as often as you can in casual conversation.
6. manage to impress a few people.
7. decide you're pretty impressed with yourself.
8. buy a new outfit in honor of the book signing you'll be attending just as soon as you start finish your fiction novel.
9. someone tells you that 'fiction' and 'novel' are the same thing.
10. you laugh in their face and explain that fiction is a GENRE, and novel is just another word for BOOK.
12. realize what kind of incompetence you'll have to deal with.
13. practice your acceptance speech for the awards your book will undoubtedly acquire.
14. make humble faces in the mirror.
(Picture: CC 2010 by kharied; Hat Tip: Brandywine Books)