1/29/17 – My Personal Narrative

Here’s my personal narrative submission for English Comp I. I don’t plan to share most of my class-related writing in my blog, but I thought this was particularly relevant:

Writing My Book

     Ever since I was a teenager, I’ve wanted to publish a novel. In 2014, I finally realized that I could successfully write a non-fiction book about my favorite hobby. I published it in paperback and as an e-book and have sold hundreds of copies so far. I only needed to get over the novel idea and write about what I know.

     Several times over the years, I tried to write a novel, but I always felt overwhelmed by the vast open-endedness of the endeavor. I inevitably outlined a few weak, shallow characters and a bougie upper-middle class plot. After a few weeks, I would give up on the project after a chapter or two. Meanwhile, for the past 20 years, I’ve devoted myself to the hobby of collecting, restoring, and modifying older Volkswagens. In other words, I had become somewhat of an expert in this area.

     One day, it occurred to me that I could write a brief non-fiction book about my Volkswagen hobby. Suddenly, the idea of writing a book seemed easy. I estimated the number of words I would need to write for the length of book I wanted to write, then divided that by ten to fit the book into ten chapters. I spent a little time thinking about what the nine most vital topics would be (ten with an introduction). Now I had ten topics with a finite number of words I needed to write per topic. Writing my book was going to be easy!

     When you’re writing about something you know a lot about, writing becomes almost a stream-of-consciousness task. I would sit at my computer and say to myself, “OK, time to knock out another 500 words.” Like any other task that requires repeated effort, all it took was dedication to carve out the time from my busy schedule. Ideally, setting a small goal of 200-300 words per day is best, but you have to make sure to write the 250 words every single day. If you can write 250 words per day, you can accomplish a small to medium sized book in three to four months. Once I had finished my rough draft, I realized that I had used way too many adverbs and cliches. To distill my book and make it as powerful as possible, I actually had to edit out almost a third of my rough draft to create my final draft. I removed, as opposed to adding, about a third of my book! That’s not something I ever imagined when I started the project.

     To get my book out there as quickly as possible and maximize my profit, I decided to self-publish my book. All I had to do was upload my manuscript to Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing, make a few edits, and my e-book was available for download. To publish my paperback, I paid someone $20 to make cover art, and I uploaded the manuscript and cover art to Amazon’s companion site, Createspace.com. One weekend’s worth of preparation and my book could now be purchased by anyone, anywhere, in the world. Better yet, it qualifies for Amazon Prime free shipping. I didn’t hire an agent, so I don’t have to share any of the profits. Createspace ships books on a per-order basis, so I have no inventory expense and I won’t get stuck with any unsold books. I make money on every single book I sell at a fixed, not variable, rate.

     In the future, I plan to write lots of other books. Now that I know that it’s not a behemoth, unending process to write a book, my future books will be even easier. All it took was the realization that I didn’t need to start by writing the next great American novel. I wrote a book on a topic I love in just a few months and published it myself. Other than promoting the book and filing my taxes, I don’t have to do anything else to continue to earn this passive income stream.

     I’ve also started a blog that one day I might be able to turn into another income stream. Who knows, a few more books like this and one day maybe I’ll be able to quit my day job. Next up is a book about earning my bachelor’s degree completely online in under a year. All it takes is a finite strategy and the dedication to write 250 words a day, every day. I may not ever write the next great American novel. I have, however, come to realize that there are many ways to achieve success and happiness. All of them have a common denominator of dedication.


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