Brian Bailey Preface to the Revised Edition

How hard can it be?

I've been taking a few baby steps towards writing a novel over the past two months. It's been a very interesting and entertaining process as I know laughably little about it. I've always preferred reading non-fiction and that's what most of my writing has been, whether for school, work, or The Blogging Church (amazingly approaching its 2-year anniversary). What makes it fun to explore is that I'm still at the stage where my happy naivete trumps the reality of the situation. Each day I think, "C'mon, how hard can it be?" :-)

I've had great conversations with friends, as well as Lori and Ben, about some ideas and titles. Everyone has been quite helpful and kind (not sure why that's worth noting, these are high-quality people after all). I also contacted the good people at Jossey-Bass, to let them know what I was exploring and get some advice. They put me in touch with a terrific agent who's extensive blog has been both enlightening and inspirational. I won't bother him until the ideas have evolved well beyond the stage they're in now (and stage is already being generous). What I've written so far is really just different experiments in approach and style, both of which I know next-to-nothing about. In fact, most evenings find me asking Lori to explain the difference between 1st-person and 3rd-person one more time. On the other hand, I have actually written a book before, so that has to be worth something, right? This is what I keep telling myself.

Of course, there's endless advice available on how to write fiction and I've read a bit of the material. There's a lot about finding your voice, which I think I grasp. Most of it is helpful, but I also see over-thinking to be a common (unpublished) writer's flaw. Since I have that tendency already, I want to stay as far from that as possible. In my mind, the goal should be to have a worthwhile story to tell and then to tell it in a ridiculously entertaining way. Keep it simple, you know.

I do know what I want my writing to be like, though. I know how I would love something I write to read, the style, emotion, and energy — Nick Hornby informed by Rob Bell. High Fidelity crossed with Velvet Elvis. C'mon, how hard can it be?