The Illusion of Writing A Book

“You actually don’t get that much from writing a book,” said the author of two books published by major publishers. It’s the second time in a month that an author has related to me how much of your life doesn’t change once you join the ranks of actual, honest-to-God authors. It’s such a struggle to convince yourself that you actually have something to say that would take a whole book, and it’s such a trial to actually produce that thing, that you must think all the while that everything about your life will change once it’s done and on bookshelves somewhere.

But I guess nothing really changes. Only now you have to sell your book. You have to go talk to the public about it. And you have to start working on the next one. What, you thought you’d be content to publish a single book and be done?

I’ve never written a book. I have harbored the illusion, though, that if I did I would be a different kind of person: smarter, more interesting, worth listening to.

If the work we’re doing is a ladder to another kind of life in which we’re a different kind of person, then it’ s an illusion. We always must scrap and struggle to be producing work of value, and no past or potential achievement will remove that burden from us. If anything, the burden intensifies once we’ve reached a goal. Because now we know we can do it; we don’t have that excuse anymore.

What if the book you’re thinking of writing is just one piece in a larger constellation of work you’re doing?