Why I Haven’t Written A Book


indexFor years, people have gotten to know me, listened to my stories, and inevitably one or two of them come to the same conclusion and say the same thing: “Man, you should write a book!” So far, I haven’t written the book so many people seem to want, but I’ve got my reasons.

First, I don’t know what book to write. An old saw among writer types is you should always write what you know. Write what you’ve lived. I can’t say I don’t have a wealth of interesting enough source material. My problem would be organizing it all and cutting out enough of the parts to make a cohesive narrative. I could do several narratives. Hell, I could write at least a novella on the somewhat complicated relationship I’ve had with Daddy over the years. Another book length tale could be told about the adventures Mama and I had when I was growing up. That one would have chapters like “McDonalds,” “Church,” and “The Wilderness Wanderings,” Speaking of church, if I were so inclined, my journey to and subsequently in faith would appeal to a Christian book publisher. So coming up with something to write isn’t the problem. The problem is what to put in and what to leave out, and so much of the strands all run together and weave with one another. Of course, I could just “write my life” but only the people who’ve been closest to me over the years would believe it was memoir and not a straight out fantasy novel. That brings me to another reason I haven’t written anything yet.

I enjoy people liking me. More than anything in this world I have an unreasonable desire to be loved. It’s not exactly natural and at times it borders on completely strange, but the wish for a whole lotta love lies at the root of who I am and a book might damage that. See, the reason Thomas Wolfe wrote his final novel You Can’t Go Home Again was in large part because of his first novel Look Homeward Angel. People realized he was writing about them and often not in the most flattering of terms. He was writing what he lived and some people took exception to it.

I’m afraid I’d end up in the same boat.

I’ve got memories of some great people and some characters I’ve known along the way, but what if I don’t remember something the same way they do? Wolfe ended up being functionally disowned by his family because some of them didn’t like the way they came out in the novel. I have precious little family left and even though I can’t think of anything I might deliberately write to offend any of them, I might. I swore years ago when people first started suggesting I write my life that I wouldn’t write anything until my precious grandparents had passed on. I know nothing I would say would offend them, but I didn’t want them . . . especially Granny Wham and Granny Ima to read about some of my “adventures.”

So it’s a risk I’m leery of taking. I don’t want to disturb any feelings, I don’t want to unnecessarily wake any sleeping dogs, and to be absolutely honest, I don’t want to lose anyone from my life because of something I might say in writing.

Finally, I just don’t feel up to the monumental task of “getting it done.” I’ve tried my hand at writing short stories and I’ve got a chapter or four of some fantasy novels stuffed in my filing cabinet, but a book — now that would be an undertaking. I don’t know if I’ve got the emotional strength to press through and finish. First I’d have to conquer the blinking cursor and anyone who’s ever tried writing knows what I’m talking about. That white page with the little blinking cursor is possibly the most intimidating thing in the world. It just sits in the top left corner and blinks — daring the would-be author to make words spill out of it. I don’t know if I can defeat the blinker.

I don’t know if I can keep the tears back long enough to get the thoughts on paper. I’ve had some good times in my life. I’ve actually had some wonderful times in my life and I’ve had a few absolutely transcendent times in my life, but those aren’t the most interesting ones. People seem to enjoy tragedy over comedy and anyone who doesn’t believe me should compare the number of times Macbeth or Othello is performed by troupes to the instances of The Taming of the Shrew or A Midsummernight’s Dream.

I’ve got tragedy. I’ve got tragedy in spades. Between mistakes I’ve made that ended up harming other people to the times I’ve been on the losing end of something, I can do tragedy. I can do tragedy people will read and want to tell other people about, but to do it, I have to relive it long enough to wring it out of the little blinking cursor, and I don’t know if I can type through tears well enough.

In the end, the question remains — will I write a book? My honest answer is I don’t know for sure. I actually want to, but the reasons above have thus far kept me from my writing desk. Maybe I’ll break out and pour out the words on the page and end up with something worth reading. Of course, I could finally write the book so many people have wanted me to write only to have them read it and say, “Geez, this is awful!” Then I could reply, “Well, I told you so.”

In the meantime, know I love y’all and keep those feet clean!

2 responses »

  1. Yes, what you say about offending people makes sense and it’s a real risk. And writing can be an extremely frustrating and daunting task. But if you ever were to come up with an idea for a story you’d like to tell, you’d just need a theme. You could write all sorts of stories and there are many ways to go about it. Stand by Me comes to mind, or possibly an Earl Hamner-esque type of thing(?). It’s just a “maybe someday” idea.

  2. I think you and Dana should write a series of children’s books. Hang out with Evie. She will give you a multitude of material. Just don’t waste all that information. You could write about Did you know? Thinking about it, I think kids would like this book or what do you do or say when _____, or what would you do if_________. I have lots of suggestions but keep it light. You could also write a how to book. Love ya!

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