Yesterday I visited with an older couple who I have a lot of respect for. The live within easy walking distance. We talked about our lives, families, careers and interests.
All three of us are interested in reading, and have done some writing. She told me she had kept a journal for 60 years, and using it, had published a book about her life. The chapters followed the important events in their lives with interesting stories.
This sounds pretty normal but it was so well done it stood out. I don't think any more care or work would have gone into this book if it had been prepared for mass distribution. It was professionally done.
It was a large hardbound book about the size of Stephen King's The Dome. The dust jacket was attractive, full color, and it wouldn't have been any better if it was intended to drive the marketing of the book. The table of contents stood revealed an interesting approach to her subject. The order of events and the way they were laid out reflected some real skill. The writing style and some of the stories testified that it could have been best seller. Even with this high praise I have to say again she made this book just for her extended family. The point that struck me was she did her very best work on it.
Her husband had self published three books and had another one that was on-line for sale. He told me he got a royalty for the one on line, each quarter, and that he and his wife used that money for cruises. Yes he said he and his wife would take the money and cruise on down to McDonald's and have lunch if they were lucky.
His other books were ones he had tried to sell but had not done well. They were well written and interesting but had never caught on. Top quality work is no guarantee by itself to sales. He gave me one of them and it was clear that he also had done a top quality job in putting his books together.
These were both people who when they did something, they did it right. My own wife is like that. When she does something she does it better than you would expect is possible.
I was left to ponder if I couldn't do better on the things I work on.
Writing is something that when we do it seems like we always find that it can always be better.
Stephen King has written about the process of writing and I have taken some comfort in his saying that writing is some of the hardest work we can do.