Thursday, January 02, 2003

Writing a book and seeking advice

Over the years I have worked on a book (a novel) but always gave up. Recently I returned to it and have finally, I think, passed some threshold. I have actually completed three chapters, with good notes for the rest of the book (except the ending).

There are several things I am thinking about in this regard, so I thought I might as well think out loud, and maybe get some advice from all you wonderful people out there in blogland.

If I work on my book, certainly my blogging will have to cut back—maybe to two or three times a week. To be honest, I probably need to curtail the blogging anyway. I have sort of run out of easy topics that I can post about without much preparation, i.e., once a day. The things I would like to post on now require more research and have much longer turn-around times.

This point is a bit obtuse. The book, as I said, is a novel, a sort of coming-of-age story. A comedy actually, about a group of graduate students (it’s better than it sounds, at least I hope so) Any such book will necessarily be highly autobiographical. The characters are composites and extensions of people I know/knew—including me. And therein lies the rub. Because the story takes place at a time before I was a Christian, some of the experiences we/I had that I would like to weave into the storyline are a bit saltier than I would like. Now I have to point out it really is only a bit saltier. We are not talking Tropic of Cancer here. After all, we were physics graduate students, who are about as attractive to (and successful with) the opposite sex as a collection of slugs. Still, there are some experiences, very mild by prime-time TV standards, that I think would have to be part of the story, though not in any explicit sense. And of course our language was not exactly edifying, yet I think it is necessary, if the story is to be told, to be reasonably honest in this regard as well. And then there is the drinking. Arggh. Was I really like that?

Let me put it this way. I think a completely honest account would be rated R, mostly for language and innuendo. I think I can tone it down to PG13 without sacrificing a sense of reality or the humor. Anything beyond that would probably be too sterilizing.

I am struggling with whether or not this is acceptable. I think the story is a good one, and a funny one, but is the cost too high?

Finally, if you have written a book and can recommend a good literary agent, or how to find one, just in case I decide to forge ahead, let me know by email.

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