The Gold Star of Writing Projects

I have a confession to make: for the past year, I’ve been “stepping out” on my next novel with a very different book. 

When the Star Class first asked me in early 2021 if I wanted to help them write a history of 100 Years of World Championships, of course I said yes! Fourteen months later, I’ve successfully prioritized, polished, and pummeled a huge trove of interviews and history into ten chapters (one for each decade). And only now that it’s all assembled and off to the printer do I realize: most of the brain power I usually reserve for writing novels went into this project, even though I swear I didn’t make anything up. 

I assumed writing non-fiction would be much “easier,” since I didn’t have to create a rough draft. All I had to do was show each victory as part of a larger story arc—and I already knew where that began and ended. 

What surprised me was how all-consuming it became. Though non-fiction, it’s still a book only I could write; right at the intersection of my weird collection of skills, Where Books Meet Boats. What other author would understand what it’s like to line up on a starting line, heart pounding, on the way to winning a World Championship—in a heavy, old-fashioned one design? Or how much fun it is to learn from and commiserate with a teammate, and competitors who are also friends? 

Of course this project has also included other lessons I’d already learned before: how important personal enthusiasm is to writing well; the importance of first readers; how well my many skills all mesh together, given the right project; and last but certainly not least, how much I appreciate making my own schedule.

One completely unexpected bonus of writing this book was the chance to steer a Star myself—only the second time I’ve ever been in one. Fortunately this time, Paul was there to capture my excitement, and just how far the mast goes forward downwind.

Right now it feels like all my previous writing (and sailing) was designed to prepare me for this project. And I have a feeling I’ll still be thinking about 100 Years of Gold Stars, long after it’s published—just like all of my previous books. So while I’m sorry I haven’t also made more progress on my next novel, I’m not going to apologize to it for “stepping out.” After all, once I get back to making things up—who knows how much richer the next story will be?

How about you: have you written something lately that was more distracting or time-consuming than expected? Share it in the comments below, or send me an email. I read every single one, with gratitude.

And for more photos of my lovely afternoon Star sailing on Biscayne Bay, as well as many other more deserving topics, visit Paul Cronin Studios.

2 Replies to “The Gold Star of Writing Projects”

  1. Such a fun project that you did justice to and so much fun to work with someone you enjoy being with and understand! Thanks for making this what it is/will be and i’m very excited for you and for everyone to see the final product! Now to your next novel…..

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