Taking the plunge: One writer’s journey in checking off a bucket list item

Story by JANICE MINEER
for Montana 55

I never wanted to jump out of an airplane. That was never on my bucket list and I imagine if it was,
my list would become as short as the time it would take me to hit the ground. No, I always wanted to do
something much more exhilarating — and terrifying. I wanted to write a book.

It is lovely to listen to great music: to turn on a radio or attend a concert, but when you play an instrument, you are immersed in the experience. All of your faculties are involved and enjoyment is exponentially increased. In like manner, it is one thing to read a great book but when you write you
are plunged into the center of that experience. All of those lovely words roll around in your head, all of those scenes play out in your imagination and you have the exhilarating feeling of omnipotence as you control the flow of the work and the fate of your characters.

With a dreamy look in their eyes, I have heard so many people say, “I always wanted to write a book.” I felt the same way for years. My lifelong addiction to books, the smell of the pages, the texture of the paper in my fingers and the escape into another world, fed my desire to write. And not to just write, but to produce an entire book.

Someday I would do it. But “someday” was racing toward me at a terrific pace and I realized if I didn’t seize the moment, it would pass me by and I would be left with only the wind rustling through my hair. So I found a coach and a support group and launched my efforts.

There were times when life interfered and I was distracted from my work, but I would go to bed at night
and hear my characters calling me, pounding their fists on the underside of my laptop lid. Their unresolved stories haunted me and drove me back to the keyboard. Ultimately the key was to plow on, to simply persist.

A mature adult brings to their work all of the rich experiences of their life: the tears, the travels, the love, the stories. It is a rich treasure to draw upon. Woven into my book are family stories, vivid memories from childhood and questions about why people do the puzzling things they do. As we age, we develop convictions we may want to share with others. My book is steeped in themes such as family and the important roles of men and women in life. Wrapping up these themes into a story that is engaging, fun, entertaining and breathtaking can be the impetus for opening up these ideas for others
to consider, to starting a conversation that really matters.

I read some time ago about the value of crafts like knitting and quilting. Not only can they give a sense of control over something in life, but they can connect a crafter to the community. Sharing a hand-made scarf starts a conversation and boosts a friendship. Writing can do the same thing — connect
a writer with others in deep and meaningful ways.

The book industry has changed immensely over the past 10 years. Finding a publisher to bring a book to the world can be difficult. It is expensive to publish and very risky. On the other hand, new avenues have opened for those who love to write. Self-publishing has become readily available.

Janice Mineer

Taking this approach allows authors to get their work into the hands of readers with ease. Feedback from those eyes on the page can help you polish your work. It also can be a stimulus for improving your writing abilities and expanding your view of what you want to accomplish. A next step could be approaching a regional publisher who can get your book into the stream of national and international
book sales.

Our lives are filled with things we must do that once done must be done over and over again: washing dishes, doing the laundry, mowing the lawn or pulling weeds that seem to sprout as fast as we pull them up. Writing a book is done. It doesn’t undo itself, rust or go bad in the refrigerator. It is a lasting legacy that will always be there. It is a piece of ourselves we leave behind.

Yes, it can be a bit scary to think about handing over a book that flowed from the heart, opening up thoughts and ideas to the world. I imagine it is like stepping out of an airplane. There is nothing like that feeling of flight.

Janice Mineer is the author of “Heartbeat of the Bitterroot”. She can be reached at jkmineer@yahoo.com. For more information visit janicemineer.yolasite.com.

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