THE ART OF MAKING ART IN A BOOK
Yes, that’s what I’m engaged in right now. Who thought putting a book together was an art? I never gave it much thought before. Until I had to do it myself! There is so much to writing I never knew! Ever since I was in high school and college, people, including teachers, always said I was a good writer. Friends and family members told me I should write a book. I read prodigiously when I was in school, which prompted the desire early in my life to do just that. I never knew what I wanted to write about, and the idea got shoved to the back burner as painting took precedence. Throughout the years, I gave thought to the book idea occasionally, but it never went anywhere except back into my memory bank, stored in the “Some Day” file. If you have read my page called “About My Book And Its Art” on this site, you already know how I’ve come to be writing a book, my first. Of course, there is a series of my paintings showcased in the book, but they aren’t merely paintings. They depict 12 women from the Bible, and the life lessons they can teach each of us through their stories. So, first I had to paint the paintings. That took me almost three years. In between paintings, I wrote about each woman. I wrote like crazy, anything and everything that came to my mind about them. There. I was finished! I thought I’d done a pretty good job!
I had no idea the hard part was about to begin! A dear friend who had some writing background offered to look at my manuscript. She was my first experience with “editing.” When I got it back, it was COVERED with red ink! Run-on sentences, punctuation errors, and poor word choices where her major complaints. But she loved my poetry and noted the positive things also. It was nice to know that not all the red ink was bad! Then, my son, who has a college degree in English with an emphasis on writing and editing, offered to edit the book for me, I gladly took him up on his offer. He CRUSHED me! I hadn’t had such a blow to my artistic ego since art critiques from The Pastel Society Of America many years ago! It was like having a baby you loved dearly, and someone telling you that it was the ugliest baby they’d ever seen, and you should try again! It took me a few weeks to get over my hurt feelings and really delve into the sense of his advice. I went into another writing frenzy, trying to incorporate the suggestions John had given me. I lost count of how many times I rewrote the whole thing. At least four or five. I began to have terrible misgivings. I cried. In tears, I said to John that maybe I wasn’t such a good writer after all, and had nothing to say that anyone would want to read. That’s when my son said these precious words, “Mom, EVERY writer says that at some point!. Get up and keep going!” Learning to accept editing advice in writing is just as important as critiques in art work. If anyone truly wants to improve his or her work, this is a must! .
I began to listen to webinars from noted authors. They offered tips, techniques and writing apps to help aspiring writers improve their skills. I read books on the subject of writing. I read many other books with an eye to discerning which writers held my interest, which didn’t, and why. I got a Hemingway app for my computer to edit my manuscript with. It was amazing how much better my manuscript read after going through that process. John is continuing his deep editing, which covers things like redundancy, sticking to the theme, unnecessary filler, and so much more. I had to define my target audience, and write on a level I’m not used to for easier reading. I Googled my book title and found there were millions of “Defining Moments” titles already out there, ranging from history, science, and sports to every art form. This means I will re-title my book.
Finally, I can paint beautiful paintings, create unique and imaginative poetry, write interesting prose, but it I don’t put it all together well, it is a lost cause. I exhort my fellow artists and writers out there to do your homework if you are thinking of putting together a book. If you want to write a book about your art, I advise these simple things to think about first: paint and write what you are passionate about. Target your audience, write to that audience, and write it well! If you cannot afford to pay an editor, at least download a writing app (several are free). This will catch many structural and grammatical mistakes and improve readability. Then, transfer it to your MS Word or Office Word and take it through spellcheck. If you are self-publishing, check the customer reviews of the publishing houses you are considering. Call and talk to their representatives. Compare their publishing packages, because they all offer different services in varying packages, depending on the price point you’re aiming for. Yes, there is an art to this thing! If you don’t do it well, it’s bad art!