The Life-Cycle of a Book

M. M. De Voe
4 min readJul 24, 2023

you’re right, parts of this are hard…

Photo by Timothy Eberly on Unsplash

Last week, my writing group discussed the difference between a writer and an author. Writers, we decided are creators and artists — the act of writing is what makes you a writer. Anyone can decide to be a writer and dedicate themselves to this career.

An author is made by others. You have to have an external product to be an author, a finished piece of work: a book. Imagine it in terms of actors and movie stars: you can be an actor in any of a hundred ways, even a kid who is a liar is a kind of actor, but movie stars must have been in at least one movie in their lives — you can’t be a movie star before starring in a movie.

Until then, you are aspiring.

(Nothing wrong with aspiring.)

But this is not about the creator, but about the thing that is created — the book itself.

A book begins as a piece of art. The process is magic. It is godlike. It is literally the act of creation of something from nothing. It doesn’t matter if the process is pedantic and organized and full of research. It doesn’t matter if it is drug-infused and the writer doesn’t remember any of it when it is done. It doesn’t matter if it is none of those things and all of them. It is simply a fact that creation happens — a blank page must fill with words.

This is art: to create something from nothing. And this is the first phase of a book — the writer as artist, dreaming up an idea and then making that idea incarnate on a page or a screen or a wall or sidewalk so that it exists in the world outside of the writer’s mind. Galatea, if you will.

Book as art.

The next phase of a book is editing: the polishing of the gem, adding and subtracting additions to the house, altering the hem-length of the dress, moving the furniture in the bedroom, taking the detour around the construction. This is the nose-to-the-grindstone phase of writing. It requires clarity, decision making, and wisdom. It requires a clear vision of the end product — something that is often hard for writers to see, since they are amazed they’ve made something out of nothing, the idea that this thing might be useful for something is a hard concept to grasp. Nonfiction writers have this easier since they frequently have…

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M. M. De Voe

Fictionista, collector of obscure awards, admirer of optimists in the face of dread. Author of 2 books that are polar opposites and yet the same. mmdevoe.com