Writing a Book Proposal

I never have figured out how to write a proper book proposal.  I’ve gone to classes, read books and seen some great examples.  But when it comes down to writing one of my own, I make a mess of it.  Where’s the story?  I don’t know. I haven’t written it yet.

I’ve got a question (actually several).  So I started looking around and reading (eight books at last count) and asking people what they think.  A character started talking in my head.  And then another character joined the conversation.  I began to look for pictures of how I imagine them.  Keanu Reeves ten years ago.  Not bad.  I didn’t know he had a beard.  I’m taking dictation again.  A piece of a conversation here, another piece over there.  Sometimes I drive around and listen to the radio.   I never know when or where these imaginary people will start rambling on.  Sometimes they are stubbornly silent. Sometimes they start talking when I don’t want to listen.  It’s two in the morning!?  Really?  No way.  I don’t want to get out of bed and write notes!

Questions.  A couple of loud characters and a few whispering friends.  Bits and pieces. That’s what I have.

The problem is the storyline.  I don’t really have one.  I’d really, really like to have one, but that doesn’t seem to be my “process”.  This I learned from a conversation with my agent, reinforced by a couple of friends, and my husband who have all witnessed how I go about writing a novel.  I want to weep when I hear a writer say they can go off to a lake house and write an entire book in two weeks.  I can spend a year writing a story, and know I have to put hundreds of pages through a shredder and have to start over.  

Just once — please Lord — couldn’t I have the whole story laid out, beginning-middle-end, all neat and tidy in an understandable outline, and not have to go through this long, confusing, terrifying quest to find out what You’re trying to teach me through the question that repeats in my head? 

I started this proposal once before and my hard drive died.  Should I take that as a sign from God that it was time to retire?   It just gave me more time to ponder the question and feel more convicted about tackling it.  My computer is up and working again, so here I am. 

When I was young, I thought writing was all about inspiration.   Now that I’m (getting) older (by the day), I have learned writing is also about blood, sweat and tears.   I thank the Lord that I live now in the age of computers, and not in the days of using a quill and pot of ink