My nine year old son would never read more than a few chapters of my book before it was published. Now, I know what you're thinking. That's hardly a ringing endorsement. You're right, and it used to bug the heck out of me.
I took to pestering him, "Don't you want to finish daddy's book? Don't you like it? Please read some more." I bothered him so much that I began to wonder who the child was, him or me. Insecurity can be a powerful thing.
I'd wonder, hey, if my own child won't read the blooming thing, what child will? Finally, I came right out and asked him why he wouldn't read it.
"Because," he said, "you just want to be famous."
That brought me up short and made me think. Was that true? Well, of course I'd like kids all over the world to read my book and to enjoy it. If that were to happen, then I guess there would be a certain amount of fame involved. But is that why I write, to be famous?
I know some writers who are almost compelled to write. They're not happy unless they're writing. That always kind of bothered me, because I am not compelled to write constantly. Now, once I start writing, it's a different story. Once I start, the compulsion kicks in.
But, if I don't start, I don't have the compulsion. And too often, I don't start--too many things get in the way. I think that it's not that I don't have the passion to write, it's just that I'm a lazy writer.
Take for example my second book. No it's not written yet. I've been kicking around an idea all summer, but I hadn't nailed anything down. I let things get in the way--the artwork and layout for the first book, our summer vacation, stuff at work, my Lions Club.
This past weekend, I sat down and finally ironed it out. Well, I ironed most of it out. Now, I can start writing this weekend, and we'll be on our way. Because once I get down to writing, the compulsion will kick in and there will be no stopping. No worries!
And, I shouldn't have been worried about my son. As soon as I got the proof copy, he sat down and read the book in a couple of days. He loved it. I guess his comment was just an excuse because my manuscript wasn't a book to him. But he made me examine why I write--and why I don't. And that's a good thing.