To honor my friend and fellow writer Tim Hall, whose debut novel is out.
Step One–accept that you have a story to tell.
Two–confront the many ways to tell it: memoir, fiction, photo montage, essays.
Three–write reams to get the story out of your head onto the page. Take heart, this is what Anne Lamott (Bird by Bird) calls “a shitty first draft,” completely normal.
Four–doubt it, consider taking a cruise or strong medicine, anything to control this malignancy that’s eating up your life.
Five–begin again to believe that you have a novel in that overweight three-ring binder and start carving away the fatty parts.
Six–ask a few trusted people to read it and sift through their advice with eyes wide open, ego in check.
Seven–lock yourself in a room for hours and hours at a time, revising and sweating, pacing, laughing and crying all in quick succession.
Eight–breathe deep and hand it to an editor.
Nine–introduce your new book to the world, knowing its tiny flaws; carry a copy with you at all times; sleep with it next to the bed; drive it around town like an honored guest.
Ten–begin planning your next book.