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  • Writer's pictureAllison Sloan

Work in progress

Everyone wants to publish a book, including me. I heard that people just started writing and self-publishing during the pandemic lock down. There are so many online offers to learn to write a memoir – I’ve got one in progress of my life as seen through the fights I had with my father – and there were some doozies. And the flippant little romantic erotica I wrote in 2022 has over 8000 digital reads worldwide. I actually passed that one by an agent who liked it and told me to get back to them after I added 75 pages to grow it to a full sized novel. That was a lot of fun, this book writes itself and a sequel is being fleshed out in my brain, another work in progress.


One of my favorite writing projects last year is a journaling gift from my daughter. Each week for a year, an online company sent me a question, by email. I could answer it, journal it, change it or ignore it, which as a writer I could not do. I relished the opportunity, plumbed my memories, thought hard about life lessons to impart and what I knew about my family tree. Searches for images, old pictures or plots of tv shows were uploaded to prove that, for example, there really was a Clarabell the Clown toy when I was a baby. After a year of entries, I submitted to be published, titled: Stories, Lessons and Opinions With Love from Meme. A work accomplished.


We recently sold my father’s apartment and during the clean out I found two boxes of draft stories he outlined. He was a doctor, and published and self-published several books back in the 1990’s. My favorite is titled: Choice/A doctor’s experience with the abortion dilemma (ISBN 0717807339). The fact that it’s a 10 digit ISBN gives away how many years back it was written, but it was rereleased in 2002, and hopefully will be again soon. After all, the topic of a woman’s choice is as current and important today as it was twenty-five years ago. Work in progress.


Surprisingly the plots of the drafts my father left in the boxes were medical romances. Poor, starving medical intern meets daughter of hospital CEO? Rich, genius doctor goes on beach vacation and falls in love with disabled veterinary assistant? TV doctor is rejected by beautiful plastic surgeon? Who knew my father, who married and divorced many times, believed in everlasting love?


My mother was a prolific writer, CEO of a small public relations firm and published romance paperback writer. Her great American novel was in progress when she died. She also hand wrote her own Last Will and Testament, and in it, no kidding, she gave me full rights to finish her draft stories with the proviso “if you write them well.” I try to laugh about that, but I’m not quite sure if it’s a compliment that she believed I could do it, or a slap that I probably didn’t have the talent to pull it off.


My friend has ideas of writing a history of Washington DC. It’s a great idea, and surprisingly has not been done, yet. It’s a major undertaking and best handled during retirement years. Retirement is a great reason to write a book. Stories of life in the Navy or Marines; life in the neighborhood circa 1950; a month on zoom, home-schooling three kids, to suggest a few I’ve heard mentioned.


My sister had emergency surgery after she broke her leg a year ago. From that hospital experience she decided she wants to write a book titled: Falling Through the Cracks: Becoming a Medical Advocate in a Frustrating Healthcare System. I like the idea, it sounds like something she might have co-authored with my father. The other title she came up with is: Taking My Temperature at 3am or Can I Get A Call Button? Either way, I think the title alone would draw a strong readership.


Following a month long vacation to Naples, Florida it occurred to me to write about condo shopping. I haven’t made up my mind whether I want to live in Florida, much less actually buy a place. Number of bedrooms and square footage is a concern. For example I saw a 500 sf one bedroom and a 2000 sf three bedroom. Like Goldilocks, I thought one was too small and the other was too big. But more a la Alice in Wonderland, I also saw a strangely expansive 1000sf one bedroom, and a really small 1000 sf three bedroom condo. And as for amenities, some places offered the highly touted “split bedrooms,” an 18 hole private golf course, an Olympic sized pool, with tennis and pickleball courts, and a club house with a full gym, grills for public use and just a 6 minute walk to the beach. Others had a small community pool and good luck with the rest. In each case the defining closer was whether it had a garage, or maybe a carport, or sorry, park your car in the lot in the sun. Maybe I should write about “how to buy a condo in Florida?” A work in progress.


I noticed that many agents and editors simply quit or moved on to other careers during the Covid years. And that many agents and publishers have stopped accepting queries. Self-publishing, once a death knell to a writing career, is quietly accepted. Digital publishing is encouraged, sometimes considered a testing ground for a book’s viability before wasting paper to print it. In my opinion, writing the book is the fun and a worthy work in progress whether you publish it for the world to read or it sits contentedly in your imagination and on your desktop.

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