Should I Write a Book?

Back when I graduated from high school, my senior English instructor predicted that I would someday write the “great American novel.” I’m now nearing the end of my seventh decade and I’m here to say that is not going to happen. I do not have a novel in me . . . at all.

However, I have been thinking of writing another sort of book, and Brett and I have been talking the past few weeks about whether I should write one based on what I’ve covered in the blog over the years: getting to retirement, setting goals, making plans, traveling, and making our dreams come true on a not very big income. I enjoy writing, and it’s not like I’d have to invent the wheel or anything, mostly pull things together, organize it all, and polish everything up a bit. I have a tiny bit of experience writing a book with chapters: my Master’s thesis had over 400 pages, nine chapters, and an appendix. I’m not sure that counts for anything now, but the research, organization, and writing took months and taught me quite a bit about the process. In some ways it could be a similar effort for the type of book I would write now.

I’m not anywhere near to getting started on anything though, and haven’t the slightest idea right now of how to get published if I was to decide to write something. Actually, that would probably be my first task as I have no interest in paying to be published nor self-publishing. I also have no desire to write a travelogue, nor a how-to book – there are plenty of good ones out there already.

That’s really all I have to say about it now, but I’d like to throw a few questions out to you all:

  1. The BIG question: Do you think there’s a book in all of this?
  2. If yes, what aspects of our story do you think would make for a good book? Our getting out of debt? Moving to Hawaii? Our life on Hawaii? Our Big Adventure? How we set goals? How we manage our finances to reach our goals? All of this? Or maybe something more focused?
  3. Is there a way you think a book like this should be organized (chronological, by theme, or in some other way)?
  4. Anything else?

I look forward to reading your comments, suggestions, and opinions, even if it’s thumbs down. I have the best readers ever, and have appreciated your thoughtful comments over the years and know I will get good, solid advice from you that I can trust.

I’m looking forward to hearing from you!

35 thoughts on “Should I Write a Book?

  1. I love it when you write about adopting your daughters and their lives now. And reading about your grandchildren. (We adopted our children through Holt Korea in the early 80’s.)

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    1. Thank you CarolJoy – this is the kind of feedback I was looking for! I can remember if I’d mentioned it or not, but we used Holt as well for all three of our adoptions!

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  2. Yes! Your writing skills are excellent. I would suggest “all of the above”. Your story of expanding your family, getting out of debt, move to Hawaii, fiscal responsibility and of course, your travel planning and adventures. You have had an amazing life, and sharing your story would be of great human interest. And include some recipes too! Wishing you the best. (I’m a faithful reader, but don’t comment very often. I should!)

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    1. Thank you – I appreciate the support! I would have never thought to add recipes, but who knows? I have a theme in mind, and everything you’ve mentioned fits.

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  3. I think you should start even further back! You and Brett have lived an interesting life together. Traveling for the Navy, adopting the girls. You’ve got a lot to cover and it’s all very interesting!

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    1. I’m sure stuff from further back would find its way in. Brett and I were talking about the theme I want to use, and we realized it played a strong role in his career as well as the trajectory our life together has taken.

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  4. I support any writer in their journey to writer a book! If you are interested in self-publishing, perhaps a few of my blog posts could be helpful to you. No matter what you decide, best of luck!!

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    1. Thank you. I have got your blog bookmarked and will settle in soon and go through what you have to say about self-publishing. My only experience with it, unfortunately, has been being exposed to books by people who sadly had no business publishing (IMO)! But, it may be the way to go at this point.

      I grow more motivated with each day, and am almost ready to start putting down an outline.

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  5. You write really well, and I think you could roll all of these topics into a compelling memoir. As CarolJoy mentioned, the stories of adopting your daughters always draw me in, too. I say go for it. It sounds like a great project!

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    1. Thanks, Laurel. I got a few mentions about the girls’ adoptions, so they will most likely be included in some way as they fit well into the theme I want to use to tie everything together. It will definitely be a project, that’s for sure. My thesis took over a year to write but having done that I know the process, from collecting material to writing and pulling it all together.

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  6. I would enjoy reading such a book with all the ideas you have listed along with the adoption process as mentioned & that you have wrote about. I enjoy reading all your writings. You have a way with words that makes your writings interesting to read. I think, start from the beginning. I enjoyed reading about your childhood stories too.

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    1. Oh my, I think I could get a Ph.D. out of my childhood – LOL! I’m not sure they fit into what I want to write about, but you never know – I, for one, never figured that I’d ever blog anything about my childhood. Thank you for the support and the ideas – I appreciate them both so much!

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  7. Sounds like a great idea. I love how you decided to expand your family and how you carefully planned for your travels and the retirement years. I admire the adventure lovers in both of you. A memoir starting before the blog would be an excellent idea. I am sure you have experienced a lot of interesting things while you were in the Navy.

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    1. Another vote for adoption stories! I honestly had no idea people were that interested. The memoir idea keeps popping up too – I had never really thought about that direction either. Our navy life will probably figure in someway no matter which direction I go, if I actually get this going.

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  8. I actually work in publishing, but not the type that publishes memoirs, etc. If you want to go the traditional publishing route, you would have to first determine what type of book you’re writing and then find a publisher that publishes this type of book and will accept proposals without an agent. You said you don’t want to self-publish, but that’s what a lot of people do these days. I have a friend who self-published a book on martial arts and he sells it on Amazon (I was the editor). He’s not getting rich, but he enjoyed writing it and has the satisfaction of being a published author. I know someone who writes self-help journals (despite having no background or education in the field) and actually found a publisher and is doing well enough that she was able to quit her job.

    I would say you should write about something that you haven’t thoroughly covered in your blog since you’d only be repurposing the same content and asking people to pay for something you’ve already given away for free. Maybe delve into travel tips in more detail or advice for adoptive parents, retirement advice, a memoir that covers your early days with Brett/Navy, etc. You would have more than one book if you do it that way. I just feel like if you tried to cram this all into one book, it would be too disjointed, unless you want to write a memoir, then that would be different. Depends on what your goals are.

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    1. First, thank you for information about finding a publisher – this goes along with the little I’ve read about it, and it seems daunting in reality but I have friends who have done just that so may see about the steps they took. I have no idea yet what form the book will take, but am slowly getting there.

      When I wrote my thesis (20 years ago – yikes), I used a journal I had kept for a full year and then analyzed. The most difficult step was finding a theme, and so that’s what I’ve been thinking about now. I don’t plan to copy from the blog, although some things will get used, but all will support the theme of the book, telling our story but without going all over the place, if that makes sense.

      I appreciate your advice, and would love to have you as my editor too – LOL. That was one of the toughest parts when I wrote the thesis – I had three different editors from three backgrounds, but they gave good advice and I was happy with the final result.

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      1. If I were you, I would try the traditional publishing route first because if your book is accepted for publication, copyediting, layout, cover design, etc. will all be taken care of. All you’d have to do is write. If you can’t find a publisher, then look into self-publishing, but there are smaller publishers out there who publish the types of books you are considering, so I think it’s worth a shot. With self-publishing, you’d have to pay for everything I listed yourself and it can get pricey. My friend who wrote the martial arts book did the layout himself and I did the copyediting, so he saved money there, but he had to pay for the cover design and some other things.

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  9. I see more than one book.adopting your girls could be a book of its own. I can see this with ease. I would just say don’t just take old columns and let that be that?

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    1. I have no plans to copy verbatim from the blog – that was actually the first thing I told myself! I will use things I wrote, but it won’t be a collection of the “best of” or anything like that. I’m going to have to actually write this thing from scratch.

      Thanks too for the additional vote for the adoption stories!

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  10. Oh Yes, you should write a book. I think you can include all of the items you mentioned. I would start with getting out of debt and setting goals. Another section could be planning for retirement. When I was planning on retiring, I did a questionnaire about how I would organize my time. Traveling would also be a great section. I love the idea!!!

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    1. Thank you Paula! I’m thinking there’s a way I can fit in everything that’s been brought up: adoption, getting out of debt, goals, travel, retirement, but it will have to all link to a primary theme, and that’s what’s the hard part, at least right now.

      BTW, before we retired, we came up with a questionnaire/list of what we wanted in a retirement location, and made a spreadsheet. Hawaii was a joke back then, but turned out to be the best fit for us.

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  11. Yes! From what I read, All of your life adventures have the same theme. I think you can divide : decision making, goals, budgets, planning and “doing it”. Develop a basic check list for that theme. Give vignettes from different parts of your life that support the theme. Throw in a recipe or two from different time period.Maybe the house type and supporting housing….
    That would be a good finance book.
    It could be one books…two names “After your first retirement” and sold to the military. As my kids say a million times, us having health insurance our entire married life changed what we did and did not do….
    If you go with the journal/novel you could take one topic (big adventure) and go start to finish. I have two friends who have done that with their family Holocaust stories. Much more difficult to get published from what I understand. You have to be really careful with some of the topics- wether they are “cool or not cool” if you know what I mean.
    I think you do have a book in you.I’d contact Doug Nords for a path….

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    1. I think you are right about the theme – my thesis had three themes (motivation, learning, and self) and I was able to weave them together and think I can do the same with the ones you’ve mentioned and a couple more. Not sure right now though about adding recipes, but who knows what will happen when I get started.

      I agree with you that having military health insurance has been a game-changer for us. We actually didn’t use it for several years because Tricare was initially so bad. When I broke my knee I exhausted myself micro-managing Tricare to make sure everything got paid. But, when we went back to it in the mid ’00s they had gotten their act together and it was great, and is downright wonderful now, along with Medicare. As you say, it has made a huge difference in what we could do.

      Who is Doug Nords?

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      1. Sorry- Doug Norman. He writes The Military Guide. He and his wife retired Navy on Oahu and have a AD daughter. They have done things differently (buying and holding on Oahu), but I think you could get some good input from him. He just did his second (maybe third??) book. He has an incredibly comfortable writing style, much like you.
        Looking forward to reading what you write!

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  12. I believe I recommended a book a long time ago and you said No Way!. I’m glad you are reconsidering. I believe Amazon has a program for writers. You could start with that. I get all my books from Amazon, the majority of which are self published. I think they give you the option of letting a few people read it for free and give reviews before you start charging. Books start at .99 and go up from there. I think it would be a great idea. I think it would be best if divided into sections. Family life in California, the navy, giving birth to one child and adopting 3 others, the get out of debt arena, the move to Hawaii, the great travel adventure. Laced liberally with photos and recipes.

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    1. I did say “no way,” didn’t I? That was my frame of thought until just a couple of months ago when I started thinking that maybe I need to pull this all together into something.

      Not sure now what all I would include, but I certainly have a lot of material, from navy days to adoption to retiring in Hawaii to traveling full time, with lots in between. I’m thinking about things now, and am thankful for all these supportive comments. My first step will be to settle on a theme or themes, and then start outlining.

      There will be photos – I have more than I know what to do with! And yes, maybe a recipe or two. The requests for those has surprised me.

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  13. 1. YES!
    2. All of this. Could be more than one book. Getting out of debt doesn’t necessarily appeal to people who adopt or who like to travel, etc.
    3. Theme
    4. have a good index; make it available on kindle, etc; include photos

    I wrote a book with my late husband and due to the short timeline our publisher gave us (4 months) it wasn’t an easy project but one which I am still proud of.

    Go for it!!

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    1. I agree with you on #2, but I think if I can relate those experiences to a common theme it might work. I know if and when I try to put it together.

      I don’t know how you wrote a book in four months!!! That’s amazing! My thesis took me nearly a year once I finished collecting data, and I’m expecting a book now would take as long as not more.

      After these wonderfully supportive comments, I think I will go for it!

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      1. I’m so glad you are making that decision. As to the 4 month timeline, we ended up with 304 pages and the book weighed 1.3 lbs. It was very exciting when we received our copy of the book after it was printed. Bob and I traveled a lot in those days (2003), and we would often stop in bookstores to see if they had copies of it. We usually were able to find it! I still check out which libraries still have it at Worldcat.

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  14. I will enjoy whatever you write! Laura, would you consider you and Brett writing alternate chapters? One of the things I like about your blog is that although you write more, both of your perspectives are included.

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  15. Laura, you could certainly write a book from your blog. Food is very important to you and I think if you fill your book with the kinds of food you sought and encountered and learned to make on your travels, the kind of meals you make to feed your family on a budget, the way you organize your own kitchen, pantry and freezer, shopping in farmer’s markets, seasonal recipes, you would have a winner. Photos from your travels would be enriching as well. It would have to have lots of photos. Notes about the retirement process and budgeting and travel planning and organizing. Notes about plants and the natural world from Brett. You might consider dividing your content into several volumes. A chapter and an outline is what you need to approach a publisher. The blog would make it evident that you can write and that you have heaps of content.

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  16. Laura, you are a wonderful writer and I’ve frequently thought you should write a book(s). Along that line of thought, you have so many great topics. To me, that seems like several books. For example 1) getting out of debt, 2) moving to Hawaii, 3) adoption. And I think after two books, you might be ready for a memoir, and think there would be interest in that.

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    1. Thank you Carol! I’m not sure I have three books in my – we’ll see how it goes next year with one – but I am grateful for the votes of confidence I have received. I think I may be able to combine your three themes into one book and keep it flowing. That’s the idea for now, anyway.

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