Do You Believe That Books Can Save the World? Insights from a Book Coach
Here’s why I love being a book coach:
On a day when it seems like the government is broken, the environment is falling apart, and basic human decorum has totally gone missing (this last one is because I am super pissed off about a personal thing in my personal life this morning), I go into the group of new writers who have just joined one of my Author Accelerator workshops and there is a woman who says she has come to learn how best to write a historical novel about the untold story of a certain person in a marginalized group whose stories often don’t get told. (I am being purposely vague because while ideas are a dime a dozen and actually quite worthless until someone with passion and drive and vision executes them, this one could easily be snatched up.)
This writer is full of purpose and hope and ready and eager to learn and do justice to this tale, and she has invested her time and money and energy in the endeavor and joined other like-minded writers.
Some of these writers say they have tried one-off workshops.
Others say that have tried for years to bring their story to life on their own.
Many actually say that they don’t want to die before they write their book. I’m not making this up — that is the #1 answer people give as to why they are motivated to learn how to write a book.
They are tired of thinking, “Some day.”
They are tired of thinking, “I could have written that.”
They are tired of the idea that is rattling around in their brain like a ghost in the attic. And the clock is ticking on the days they have left to do it because the clock is ticking on all our days.
I got to welcome the writer of the historical novel, and then enter into a rich and lively discussion about her idea. I went out on Amazon to dig up some related titles that would be great comparative titles for her, and good for research. I got lost in the mighty jungle of amazon for awhile because there are so many books in there, a giant web of books, and it was so nice to be wandering around with the books rather than wandering around in the news where disaster seems to be lurking around every corner. But I came back to the writers and saw that a bunch of people had leaped in to offer support and encouragement to the writer of historical fiction.
Some of those offering their support are not writing historical fiction They are writing sci-fi fantasy or middle-grade realism or a thriller firmly grounded in women’s fiction. All of them, however, are on the same path — the path from talking about writing a book to actually writing a book. The path from wondering what to do to knowing what to do. The path from wringing their hands in despair to waving their hands in joyous celebration of the fact that they finally wrote the book.
I get to help guide these people. I get to give them the structures and strategies that I have developed over 30 years of being a student of the book writing process and the creative spirit. I get to cheer them on and give them some tough love when they need it.
And some of them will surely need it. Yesterday, I had to write an email to a writer who does not yet understand what show don’t tell really means. Her pages were flat and lifeless — they would never get the attention of a reader, which is the thing that all writers want because readers close the creative loop. It was a tough critique, and I had to craft it in such a way that she would receive the news, and recommit to working on her story. Then I had to hold my breath to see if she would be angry, or offended, or accusatory. She wasn’t. She was relieved that someone had taken the time to tell her the truth and develop a way forward. She was gracious and grateful. It was a relief to hear, and a lovely thing to hear. (See note above about basic human decorum.)
I am reminded every day that the work I do matters enormously — to the individuals with whom I work, and to the betterment of the world.
I believe that books are our one of our best defenses against everything that seems to be going wrong in the world at large and in my own small little life. Books shine a light on all people and all perspectives. Books help us know ourselves and our neighbors and people who live halfway around the world in very different circumstances than we do. Books help us know the past and image the future. Books help us learn and laugh. They bring us solace and delight. They are the one thing you can count on when you the power is out and you are sitting alone in the dark or alone on a long plane flight across the country.
And as for writers? These are the people who have chosen to devote their time to this work, who believe in themselves as storytellers and in the power of books — and they are some of the best people you will ever know.
My job is to serve them. And serving them almost always serves me.
It made things better for me today.
I got to turn my attention to this important and interesting untold story and this writer whose faith in her ability to make an impact shines like a beacon.
One of the students who is enrolled in my book coach certification course right now has this to say about it:
“These courses have been an incredible experience and I’m really loving every minute of it. I am filled with ideas and plans for What Happens Next for me in terms of book coaching. Thank you for taking the time and energy to download your brain into these classes. You’ve really done and are doing something extraordinary.”
If you are ready to be filled up in this way, too, come check it out:
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