As an author, a common question I get asked frequently is, “How long did it take to write your book?” For 5k, Ballet, and a Spinal Cord Injury, my answer is always “thirteen months,” and for Determination, my answer is always “about two years.” Everyone has their own reaction to that, but most people are shocked by the amount of time spent solely on writing a book. But let me tell you—I’m not!
It may seem crazy to you, but those thirteen months and two years were not all spent just on writing only. I feel like readers think their favorite author sits back, cracks his or her knuckles, and spills their writing out into a masterpiece, but I’m here to tell you that it simply does not work that way. There were times where neither me or Jen Starzec, my co-author, would be in the mood to write, and so we didn’t. Sometimes these moods lasted for a couple hours; sometimes they lasted for a couple weeks—it all depended on how we were feeling. Writer’s block didn’t take over us too terribly often since we both were writing about real events, but it was still there occasionally.
Writing books with a co-author isn’t always a walk-in-the-park either. Despite the fact that Jen and I are such good friends we’re more like sisters (read: my first post), there were still a few disagreements and misunderstandings. If you’re going to write a book with a partner, you both have to agree on things, and that’s where some trouble arises. Whilst writing 5k, Ballet, and a Spinal Cord Injury and Determination, we bickered over the most trivial of things (as mentioned in the acknowledgements of Determination), such as whose name would go first on the cover, whose chapter began first, what the cover art should be, etc. Of course, all these disputes were solved and apologies were exchanged, but it wasn’t easy.
In all honesty, most of the thirteen months and two years was not spent writing. At the beginning, we wrote a little bit in each book before we got bored and decided to take a break. Months would go by without writing a single word. For both books, we picked up the pace at the end of those time frames; in fact, most of Determination—about half of it—was written in the last two months. I may or may not have written almost all of that second half at school as well (whoops)!
Aside from actually writing the book, Jen and I had to work together on other things as well. Since we weren’t “professional” authors, we had to find our own editor and figure out how to publish our books on our own, which was a challenge. We read each other’s chapters aloud on FaceTime in order to catch any mistakes or awkward wording before we passed 5k, Ballet, and a Spinal Cord Injury on to Jen’s dad for editing. For Determination, we were pressed for time once we finished writing the book, as I wanted to present it to my sick aunt, who I dedicated my portion of the novel to, so we were left to fend for ourselves and trust we caught all the mistakes. That’s right: Determination had no editor, surprisingly. And I still treasure it more than 5k, Ballet, and a Spinal Cord Injury. (Although, I do treasure both our books.)
Throughout the writing process, although parts of it may not always be the best, I learn more about myself and Jen; we’re brought closer together. Some of the chapters we write are emotional, as we discuss our disabilities and thoughts and feelings, and that’s okay.
I think it’s wonderful that we’re comfortable enough to be vulnerable in front of each other and the world, because every sentence we write has an effect on readers in someway.