Whew! I’ve just finished my second book! It’s called, Curious Histories of Nice, France and as you might have guessed from the title, it’s a collection of curious stories about the people and events that formed the city of Nice, France.
I don’t often share personal information here because I’m a rather private person, but today I thought I would talk a bit about my writing journey because it seems that many people would like to write a book, but only a few ever get around to it.
For me, it all started way back in August 2012. I was going to Florence, Italy for 3 months to take Italian classes and decided to start a blog about my experiences. While I was there, I saw a notice in an English language newspaper that asked for submissions. I decided to write an article for them about a little-known historic monument in my neighborhood. They liked it, so I wrote another story for them.
My time in Italy was soon over and I had a blog that I didn’t know what to do with. I liked writing, but I wasn’t doing anything exciting enough that anyone would want to read about it. After floundering around a bit, I finally decided that I really liked to research and write about historic events and people – but in an entertaining way. I didn’t want to write straight dates and names type history. So I tried to lighten it up and add a little humor and a few cartoons. It seemed that I had found my niche so I just continued.
I wrote about England, Italy, France, and other countries that I visited. But since I had a home in Nice, France, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to explore my city and dig into its history and that led to writing about France in general.
Last autumn (2014) after 2 years of writing, I looked at the articles I had written and thought I probably had enough for a book about Nice. Then I noticed that I also had enough for a small book about French Holidays. I decided to publish that book first and French Holidays & Traditions came out in November 2014. Then I went to work putting together my second book, Curious Histories of Nice, France.
You might be wondering, why I would even bother publishing a book if everything is online. Well, it’s true that most of the articles in my books are online, but not all of them. Actually, a lot of work goes into organizing, editing, and adding extra information to each book. In French Holidays & Traditions, I added a section of dates and events for each month, and in my most recent book, I added “What to See” and “Fun Facts” sections. There’s a lot of extra info to be found there, because as I research, I am always finding interesting things that just don’t go into the main story. So, at last, I had a place to put them.
Publishing books that were originally a series of articles has a very long history, indeed. In 1836 Charles Dickens started publishing The Pickwick Papers in a London newspaper. After only four installments, the British public was hooked. Newspaper sales soared and Dickens became a household name. Newspapers everywhere started looking for writers to write a series for them. Many of the books that we consider classics today were published in this way. Flaubert’s Madame Bovary, Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn, and Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin all started life as a series of individually published articles.
Am I comparing my little Curious Histories of Nice, France to these great works? No, of course not! I’m just pointing out that the technique is similar. Publishing in newspaper (or blog) format is a great way to get into the habit of writing and to eventually gather enough material to put into a book. So if you’ve been thinking of writing a book, why not start with a blog? Who knows where it might lead?
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