The first time an idea for a book hit me was in 2006. I was four years into my career, teaching high school English in Miami and coaching my younger sister through her own first year as a teacher. Neither of us responded well to the generalized advice or inspirational stories offered to beginning educators. During one discussion, I described a moment from my own rookie year, after a particularly bad month, when a well-meaning colleague gave me the book Chicken Soup for the Teacher’s Soul.
“But on a bad day,” I continued, “new teachers need something stronger than chicken soup. They need something more like Hard Liquor for the Soul.“
And then I thought, now that should be a book. This is how it starts.
Before long, that initial idea became a few pages of frantic notes that seemed like they could, maybe, one day, be turned into a book.
What I didn’t have was any idea of what it took to get a book out into the world.
So it felt like a lucky sign when I heard a radio ad that asked, “Do you have an idea for a book?”
The ad was for the Miami Writers Institute, an annual creative-writing conference produced by the Miami Book Fair. And in 2006, one of their courses was a four-day class on how the entire publishing process worked.
I signed up immediately.
Since that first class, I’ve written a nonfiction book, a children’s book, and a novel, as well as smaller pieces like articles and columns. I’ve also attended over a decade’s worth of courses at the Miami Writers Institute. And I’ve got many notebooks full of writing tips to prove it.
Recently, I distilled the lessons I’ve learned from the last fourteen years into a fourteen-day email series. The result is part creative-writing crash course, part mobile-friendly memoir of discovering what it takes to build a writing career.
Might we think of this series as Hard Liquor for the Writer’s Soul? Well, it’s definitely got more of a kick than chicken soup.
The emails offer a two-week sprint through years of lessons learned by trial and error, with the occasional indignities that process entails. That, plus my favorite nuggets of wisdom from a tall stack of notebooks from all those writing workshops.
If you’d like to get the emails, you can enter your email address on the form below (or at this link if you run into any technical difficulties). No matter what stage you’re at in your own writing life, I hope you find them helpful.