These days, I’m spending most of my time writing my second book. I’ll have much more to say about this later, but for now I can say that it is a brewing book, but not a recipe compilation like my first book. [Speaking of my first book (pictured here), Amazon has dropped its price to $13.10. I don’t have anything to do with how Amazon prices the book, so I have no idea how long it will remain at that price. But it’s basically half price now, so I thought I’d mention it. It’s also on Amazon’s top 100 list for Beer, so I’m pretty excited about that.]
Writing about homebrewing is challenging because there are so many variations on almost all of the common themes. Still, I’ve got the book outlined, almost completely researched, and I’m writing about 1,500 words per day along with the other writing assignments I’ve landed recently. (I’m also working on a zombie novel.) Rereading my brewing texts and poring over old brewing notebooks has brought back a lot of memories. They remind me why I think homebrewing is so great. In addition, having to put ideas from brewing into words has helped me think about brewing with more focus. I hope to attack more actual homebrewing with a renewed vigor soon. The club I belong to (Austin ZEALOTS) is doing the judging for one of the regionals of the National Homebrewing Contest, so I’m going to be tasting a lot of homebrew in the near future and that should be inspirational.
Some people might be interested in the writing process itself. If so, here’s what it’s like to write a book. (And if you’re not interested, don’t worry — I’ll post another partial mashing article in the next couple of days.)
One of the weirdest things about writing a book is that the publisher gives you a due date, and then you basically don’t hear from anyone until the manuscript is done. When I wrote my first book, I initially assumed the editor would want weekly updates, or for me to hand in chapters as I wrote them. Nope. You get a deadline and then, a few months later, you better have a whole book written. (I wonder how many editors hear, “Oh, that. Yeah, I’m nowhere near finished.” when the deadline day arrives.) My deadline for the second book is May 15th. I’m definitely going to be finished and will definitely enjoy a tasty fermented grain beverage that night.
For my first book, the publisher approached me and wanted a recipe compilation. For my second book, I pitched an idea to them and they bought it. The pitch included an extended outline and a couple sample chapters. So, before I even started the book, I knew exactly what was going to be in it. (For my zombie novel, I’m a little more loosey goosey — I know the basic flow of what is going to happen and the character arcs, but I don’t have a full scene by scene outline.)
Once I got the green light, I estimated book’s word count — I think it will be 100,000 words, or maybe a little more — and counted the number of writing days until the deadline. Dividing the estimated word count by the number of writing days yields the number of words I need to write per day. For this book, it’s around 1,000 words per day. So, each day I’m writing, I try to get at least that many new words on the page. I also review and edit what I wrote a few days ago and try to turn the original writing into something a little more polished. Then, I pick a section that I wrote a couple weeks ago and polished, and give it one last look. So, in my manuscript right now, I have black text, which is newly written material; blue text, which has been edited (by me) once; and green text, which is “finished” — unless I decide to take another spin through it. So far, I haven’t put much thought into the appendices, charts, and miscellaneous stuff that always takes ten times longer to finish than expected. (And thank Odin I don’t have to compile the index.) But, I need to get started on that.
So that’s the basic process I’ve been following. Other authors do it differently. One “weird” thing I’m doing is pretty much writing the book from beginning to end, rather than jumping around. My outline is detailed enough, that really all I’m doing is fleshing it out, so I haven’t jumped around too much.
My new book is scheduled to be released later this year, in the fall. I’ll have much more to say about it when it’s released. Until then, I’ll be here, trying to write while a cat tries to sleep on my keyboard.