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Friday, July 31, 2009

Don’t Write the Cart First

A close friend started writing a book this past month and has completed the opening pages. She took a moment to think of how she would dedicate the book and sent me her ideas.

Her first chapter is not yet complete, but she is worried about the dedication. If writing her book takes a year or more, many things will change in the interim and many people will help her along the way, some of whom she may not even know yet.

I warned her not to worry about the dedication; finish the book first. I know from personal experience. A few months ago, I found some of my oldest files, dating back to the late 1970s and early 1980s. One of the files contained the first pages of my first book. The file also contained copious pages of research I had collected for use in the book. I had written less than one chapter in that first book and quit, but I had already written and polished my dedication.

I chuckled at finding that file. How funny writers are! When I started the project, I felt sure I would finish, but I experienced a run-in with reality. Writing is hard work. The research fascinated me, the idea burned in my brain, and the desire to write a book spurred me to begin. Nothing, however, helped me keep up my enthusiasm. I had not yet learned about critique circles. I did not know the value of scheduling time to write. I did not yet have the perseverance required to stick to a project to the end, yet I had dedicated the book to the people who helped me with a project I barely started before I let it drop.

Write! That’s the only way to finish a book. Writing the dedication before you write the book is caving to that old chestnut of putting the cart before the horse. Write first; dedicate last.

2 comments:

jrh68 said...

I always thought the dedication went in the front matter.

jrh68 said...

Oh, ok I see, my bad, I was reading backwards again. Yes I agree the ded could wait but can the dead?
Better to let it rest untill the whole book is writen to throw the bugger in it's hole.