What it Feels Like to Write a Book

What it Feels Like to Write a Book May 10, 2021


I always hated English class in high school.  I despised learning rules about grammar and endlessly practicing those rules.  I was a terrible student and did the little I had to get by.  In my senior year, I had the option to take creative writing and I decided to give it a try.  The good news about the class was that it let me be creative without having to worry about the rules.  I loved the class but didn’t think about it much when I went to computer school.

I tested out of English at Tech School and was surprised when a portion of the computer curriculum still required us to write a paper.  I remember openly arguing with the professor because he kept making me rewrite a paper repeatedly.  Years later, when I completed my bachelor’s degree at a Bible college, I had to write papers for every class, and at some point, I started to enjoy it.

To make a long story short, now I see writing as something that helps me understand what I think.

I wrote a couple of books based on sermons when I was just starting as a pastor.  But I put it aside again amongst the business of being a pastor and a professional at the same time.  I developed different hobbies and didn’t feel the the need to write much even though occasionally I would feel an urge that I couldn’t explain.

When I started to deconstruct my faith and challenge some of my beliefs, I once again found myself needing to write to help me sort out what I thought.  I started the Desert Sanctuary (originally called something else) and started to formulate a few ideas for a book.  I first started writing blogs about How God is like Being a Father, which originally became my first book with Quoir, called Apparent Faith: What Fatherhood Taught Me About the Father’s Heart.  Later, after my trip to Taiwan, I wrote the The Tea Shop and published it during the pandemic.

Now, it’s time for my new book to come out called Being: A Journey Toward Presence and Authenticity (May 11th).

So, what is it like to write a book?

It starts in the beginning

Most of my writing starts with an assumption, a big idea.  The big idea may be a theory, but it’s more likely something I already have researched and thought about so much that I can’t keep it in any more.  Starting the book is the hardest part and seems like you’re pushing an automobile uphill.  It takes everything to get started and it takes a while before I fell like I’m not just groaning and spinning my wheels.

Even though I have a good idea of where it’s going, I usually don’t know exactly how I’m going to get there (even if I have an outline).  Recently, while writing a novel, I resolved to write 1000 words a day.  In this case, I didn’t know where it was going, but I was determined to make progress every day.  At first, I just sat and wrote, pushed the backspace key and wrung my hands for long periods of time.  But, after a few days, I would come home from work with 2 or 3 chapters in my head waiting to be written down.

The waiting is the hardest part

Even if a writer already has a plan for self-publishing or an actual publisher, waiting is the name of the game.  The book has to be edited, published, printed and bought on other people’s timeline.  Even when there is a plan, the plans sometimes change and it can seem like forever between the times things happen.  My latest book, Being, was written over a year ago and that would be considered quickly published because the average timespan is 18 months.

I use the time to work on future projects, but in a way that only produces more things that can’t be finalized.  If a person is unable to wait, it may be a good idea to just write a blog for their own pleasure because publishing is painful at times.  Other people may not be as excited about our work as we are, and it won’t be as urgent for them to finish.

It is like giving birth

Just like giving birth involves a wait and then a big day, eventually a book will be released to the world.  There will be months of hard work and scrutiny and revising and struggling.  But, when the pre-release books arrive and then the books become available online, it always makes me breathe deep and I feel like when my children were born.

When my first child was born, I was so nervous that I upset some medical equipment in the birthing room.  On the release date for Apparent Faith, I stayed outside like a nervous father for the first half of the day.   I find myself again at release date for Being (May 11th) and realizing just like the birth of our children, there is not a lot I can do to change what is going to happen.

My best option is just to breathe deep and take it all in.

So, for this book, I’m going to throw an online release party.    I’ve invited some of my friends to speak about the book and even another friend to sing a song.  I hope this will help me sleep better before the release, but I’m looking forward to doing it and taking it all in.  Also, I am going to work on release day and I’ll try to look at my phone very much at all.

All-in-all, writing is what I love to do most in my free time.  Potential authors should know that most people don’t make any money at their hobbies.  There are very few famous, professional authors that even make a living at it.  But, if it’s something you can love and can do it for free, I highly recommend it.

Be where you are, be who you are, be at peace,

Karl Forehand

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Karl Forehand is a former pastor, podcaster, and award-winning author. His books include Apparent Faith: What Fatherhood Taught Me About the Father’s Heart and The Tea Shop. He is the creator of The Desert Sanctuary podcast. He is married to his wife Laura of 32 years and has one dog named Winston. His three children are grown and are beginning to multiply!

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