7.01.2012

Have you ever tried to finish writing a book?


We've talked here about the idea of resistance. The resistance to finishing projects. The resistance to getting important work done. I've recommended a great book on the subject called, The War of Art, by Steven Pressfield.  That book has helped me get over the anxiety that comes with trying to finish something for the first time.

I re-read that book every time I get a new contract from my publisher to complete a book on photography. It really helps. I can identify the things I'm doing, unconsciously, to sabotage my writing efforts and I can work harder to get past those pernicious road blocks.

But golly.  I sure am having problems finishing what is to me one of my most important projects. And reading the Pressfield book again just doesn't seem to help me budge this one.

You see, I started writing a novel in 2002. It was a dark time for me.  The events of 9/11 temporarily destroyed my business and a profound health issue almost made everything else irrelevant.  I couldn't really work as a location photographer for months. And we topped it all off with a king sized dose of unrelenting anxiety.  But the one thing that made it all bearable was a book I started writing.  In fact, I finished all the principal writing in that year.  I spent a lot of time squatting at a table at the local Starbucks and I finished up in december at a table at the Caffe Medici on West Lynn.

The book is a novel. It's a fun, quirky story about a photographer who gets an assignment to go to Lisbon to cover a big, week long trade show. But he is quickly drawn into a dangerous adventure as someone else's bout of attempted corporate espionage goes south. A past job as an intelligence researcher, and a U.S. government without many resources on the ground, propels my hapless photographer/character into unwanted action and narrow escapes.  And all the while he tries to do a good job on the corporate assignment because....he desperately needs the money.

I had a blast writing it. I'd been on a similar assignment several years earlier in Lisbon so I knew the general lay of the land. I've read a zillion spy and detective novels and I was ready to try my hand at story telling.  Especially with a character who is a working (but aging) photographer, in over his head.

But here's the downside:  A novel takes a lot of time to polish.  And at the end of my convalescence and the end of the year we got really busy again in the photo business and I was determined to make up for lost time.  Then the book contracts for the non-fiction books started arriving one after the other and the novel was mothballed.  But I couldn't give it up.  My friends who'd read it loved it. They kept pushing me.

When things slowed down in the business again this year I decided it was now or never and started taking a run at re-writing and polishing again.  But the resistance to finishing gets harder and harder as I get closer and closer.  There always seems to be some pressing thing I have to attend to.  A short term opportunity that clouds the long term potential of getting the book out the door. A need to lock down money and resources that takes precedence over a personal project.

Why am I telling you this?  Because, in a way I feel like the readers of the blog are like friends. We share a lot of similarities and we've shared a lot of virtual ink together.  And I'm telling you so you'll understand if my blogging gets a little sporadic in the coming month.  I've given myself a deadline.  It's the one thing this project has never really had.  I'm giving myself till the end of July to make the timeline flow, to flesh out the characters a bit and to convert some of my plot shorthanding into flowing narrative.

At the end of the month my designer and I are planning to put this work up on Amazon.com as my first piece of long form fiction. I love the character and I have plot lines for subsequent books ready to go that riff off my experiences in Russia, Mexico, Monte Carlo and Rome....all as a working photographer. The mix of real, everyday photography and the fictional co-story of spies, terrorists, random evil and professional pratfalls seems fun to me.

It's my hope that every single one of the thousands of daily readers of the blog will rush out and buy a copy as soon as the book goes live.  I'm also planning to make the book available in paper.

A long winded explanation but I wanted you to know.  And to push me back to work if you see me meandering around the web adding my opinions to various dead end forums instead of shackling myself to the desk in the basement of the Visual Science Lab and getting some damn work done.

I want to make Steve Pressfield proud and actually finish this.  Save up your $9.99 and get ready.









21 comments:

Claire said...

Sounds like I'm gonna buy a Kirk Tuck novel before a VSL T-shirt after all. Whatever, count me in (as much as I hate the thought we don't read you as often, but go for it !!).

John Krumm said...

Sounds good. Perhaps take a little break from the internet all together, like Mike over at TOP. Hard to do I know.

Craig said...

Kirk, Thank you for sharing your journey on your creative endeavors, and mentioning "The War of Art", by Steven Pressfield. When I first read the book a year ago, I was clinically depressed and the book helped me realize just how my procrastination kept me mired in the doldrums.

Steven has recently released a new book, "Turning Pro" that I'd highly recommend to anyone that has wanted to abandon the "8 to 5 behind a desk working for someone else" routine to pursue his/her life's calling. (Kirk, your sharing your experience doing so has been an inspiration to me).

Will the novel be published through the traditional publisher model, or are you attempting to release it like Pressfield, Seth Godin and others have been doing - independently? Either way, I'll be right in line to buy a copy when it releases.

kirk tuck said...

After my experiences with publishing (both good and bad) I've decided to take a chance and do this one on my own. I am married to a talented designer who has lots of experience with all manner of e-pubs and she's ready and waiting for the final edit. I'd like to sell as many of the novel as I have my first technical photo book, somewhere north of 20K. I'll price it to be accessible and make print copies available as well.

Thanks for the mention of Pressfield's new book. I didn't know about it and I'm rushing to Amazon as fast as my Kindle will carry me...

The Art of War did the same for me. It's magical. I'll read anything the man writes. For fiction try his new book, "The Profession." it's a lot of fun and it makes you think/worry. Good stuff. Thanks.

skygzr said...

"Art is never finished, only abandoned" - attributed to Leonardo da Vinci, but its true no matter who said it.

Jim said...

I don't read fiction as a rule and have never read a spy novel but I might give it a whirl. Finish it Kirk.

Victor Bloomfield said...

I'm anxious to buy it and read it. Good for you to self-publish. My experience (4 books + 1 in the oven) is that publishers are usually not very helpful, so doing it on your own seems, to me, the right thing. Fortunately, you've got a big bunch of fans waiting for the book - don't keep us waiting too long!

Craig said...

Kirk,

You might have a challenge looking on Amazon for his latest. I heard about it through Seth Godin's blog, and it turns out that Steven did this one on his own also.

Try: http://www.blackirishbooks.com/

kirk tuck said...

It's on the Amazon Kindle list. But I'll try to buy it direct if I can. More hard earned money in his pocket the better.

kirk tuck said...

Hopefully you'll have it to read before the end of the summer. don't know how quickly Amazon gets stuff up....

Brad Burnham said...

Can't wait to read it. Ive enjoyed reading your work here and look forward to a full novel.

Andreas Manessinger said...

Cool. Can you try to make sure it's available internationally, for me especially via amazon.de? The ebook market, even inside the divisions of Amazon, is awfully fragmented. I'd hate not being able to buy it.

Keith Mallett said...

Since I enjoy both fiction and non-fiction, and you write so well Kirk, I'm looking forward to the read. However, as someone who moved from professional photography many years ago (PR, Wedding/Portrait etc.) into writing about social issues and many other things in the govt sector, I have always appreciated the skills of a good editor. It is very hard to stand back and judge one's own work. Just Sayin' as you say there. Either way - discipline is the only way forward: a lesson I need to apply to my own projects! Cheers, Keith

Dmitry said...

Usually you only have to start something to get it rolling. The process should carry you away, so just find some strength to get to it :)

Michael Matthews said...

I'm in. My $9.99 is waiting. Now get busy and collect it along with all the rest.
Some of the remaining 19,999 are easily distracted.

Bold Photography said...

I look forward to it!

Mark Davidson said...

Count me as a another reader.

I have always fantasized about writing a mystery/thriller but beyond envisioning a few choice scenes I don't get anywhere.

I am glad you have connected the dots to make the story. I will read it as soon as it becomes available.

Ron Nabity said...

Glad to hear you're not letting the novel sit - I look forward to reading the ongoing tales of traveling photographer, Tirk Kuck. (Hopefully your character has a more original name than that!:-)

Ian said...

Kirk,

Just keep working on the book. Don't worry about your blog readers - we'll be out taking photographs.

Ian

Fangio Agostini said...

"done is better than perfect" it's written in front of my desk.

John Flores said...

I'm in similar waters. After years of honing my chops writing motorcycle travel stories for RoadRUNNER Magazine, I'm branching out into other genres. I've published my first ebook, in edits with a second (my wife is a copy editor, so like you I've got in-house support), and am picking at the edges of a number of other story ideas.

I like to think that I work like an oil painter, with several canvases in progress at once, and bouncing back and forth between them as the spirit moves. That's my romantic excuse at least. It's more likely that I've got ADD, or more precisely, IDD - Internet Deficit Disorder.

It's normal to have unfinished work, projects that never quite get there. We all have them. But I think middle age is teaching me that the clock is ticking, and that I don't want a lifetime of unfinished work. I don't want to be normal. So I use deadlines to help me put other stuff aside and focus on the finish.

Good luck with the book. Now turn off the damn internet and write!