Categorized | Opinion

Lessons learned from writing ‘great American novel’

Rick Jacobs mug2014

The great American novel has been written.
Well, at least my great American novel.
After more than a year of writing, rewriting, despair, exhilaration, self-motivation and, ultimately, euphoria, I wrote the final two words that every novelist, amateur or professional, so looks forward to: The End.
Of course, the words were completely false. There remains much to do. There are probably a thousand edits yet to be made in order to get it polished enough to send to agents and/or publishers. It has to be as close to perfect, at least grammatically, as possible so you at least have the semblance of credibility.
The book publishing business can be brutal. There are probably a million folks like me who actually believe they have “it.”
I sure feel sorry for the other 999,999.
As I wrote, I discovered something amazing. My characters became very real to me. The story line became real. It was all actually happening and that made it easier to write.
Something else became real and this was so utterly satisfying as to be almost too good to be true. I discovered I had a team who were helping me throughout the course of this project. I didn’t form the team; it just seemed to materialize.
My dear, sweet mother, who is nearly 80, informed me if I didn’t let her edit as I went along she would never forgive me.
My very good friend, Rodney Rastall, a much better than average writer himself, has a real talent for attention to details. He was suddenly giving me valuable tips on some of the things I wrote. For instance, I wrote that an airplane window was shattered with a bullet. He let me know that was impossible.
Who knew? I mean, besides him.
I have two sons who were incredibly important. Ricky is an Air Traffic Controller and his knowledge of banter between a tower and a jet gave my book a real boost. Sean is Special Forces and the tips he gave me on how radio chatter is spoken was invaluable. Finally, my boys repaid some of the sleepless nights they owed me.
And my wonderful little sister, Terri Matz. Without her, the manuscript would have gone the way of just another project of mine that was, at best, merely mediocre.
Her role in this was twofold: she was a major cheerleader and my most vocal critic. Both were equally valuable.
If I wrote something that didn’t fit with a character, she let me know. If one of my chapters needed re-writing, she told me. If I went somewhere that I didn’t need to go, she’d tell me to go in a different direction. Conversely, if I wrote something and it was brilliant, she’d say it was perfect and tell me to hurry up and write the next chapter.
Believe me, you need someone like Terri on your team. Someone who can be brutally honest, either way.
All together, Team Jacobs really wrote a police thriller, a good guys go after bad guys frolic, a non-stop adventure of right, hopefully, triumphing over wrong.
Well, obviously I can’t tell you if the good guys won or not. Major spoiler alert.
Anyway, my book is call Driven. I have no idea where it goes from here. I guess, bottom line, it doesn’t make a great deal of difference, to me anyway, whether it’s published or not. Because, for as long as I can remember, I wanted to write a novel. And now I’ve done that. And the pride and sense of satisfaction I’ve felt since writing those two little words could never be measured.
Of course, if I make a couple of million, I wouldn’t fuss about that either.
If you are an aspiring novelist, there are three things I will tell you. Follow this, and you will succeed:
Never, never, never give up.
Never, never, never give up.
Surround yourself with those who tell you never, never, never give up.
Driven. Pre-orders are welcome.
Rick Jacobs is a local process server, writer, father and husband. He can be reached at rick45@aol.com.

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