My Experience as a First Time Author

Writing a book was a long standing item in my bucket-list. I had some attempts at writing a book across the years but in the end they only materialized in a low number of pages and words, I couldn’t even write enough material for a chapter. Add to this the fact that English is not my first language and it’s not even my second language either. You see, I was stubbornly trying to write a book in English even though my knowledge of it wasn’t that great, I had some deficiencies and wasn’t confident enough in my language and writing skills. In school, we had to learn French, that was the Romanian education system back then, it made us learn French just to show off how much of a Francophone country Romania is. Let’s be honest, French is pretty much useless to learn and Latin, because we had to learn it as well, is even more useless, there weren’t many situations in which my knowledge of French helped, on the other hand, Latin helped me very much when I needed…no, I’m joking, Roman numerals and some quotes where the only Latin that I ever used.

Why is writing a book a goal worthy to be in everyone’s bucket-list? My opinion is that everybody should write a book, or at least, to try to write one at some point in their life. Everybody has a story to tell. You live, you have a story to tell, you travel, you have a story to tell, you experience something, you have a story to tell. A book is something that you leave behind, it’s a part of you and has your stories. We learn from each other and we learn from each other’s stories. No matter how the world will change, storytelling will never disappear. Books, movies, songs, paintings, they all tell a story. Even if nobody reads your books, you are the only one that writes and reads it, you still gain something, for me the experience of writing is quite therapeutic and magical, writing things down has the power of clearing your mind, every time I write something is like a small weight is lifted off my shoulders, I feel better afterwards. I’m now on a 100 Days Of Writing Challenge, it’s day 53, and I might not always be enthusiastic or have the energy and will to write a blog post but one thing is certain: I always feel better after writing.  Ralph Waldo Emerson said that life is a journey, not a destination. This is also true for writing because writing is a journey, not a destination.

How did I do it? I was sitting on top of a hill overseeing the beautiful city of San Sebastian, the sea, the beaches, other smaller hills, it was quite a thrilling view. I was in the country for less than 24 hours and haven’t slept in almost a day, I was tired from carrying a backpack for a lot of those past 24 hours yet I found enough energy and will to take my little notepad and to start writing down what happened to me since I landed in Madrid at midnight. I wrote almost daily for the next 37 days for about 1-2 hours a day and at the end I had enough material for a book. I didn’t had the goal of writing a book at the start of my journey but the more things happened to me and the more I wrote about them, the more I realized that my experience and notes can be transformed into a book.

A Story on the Camino

Book link: A Story on the Camino

Writing the book itself. I had to transcribe my notes and put them in a digital format, I had some notes on my phone but they represented only a (very) small fraction of the total content. I filled the small notepad that I brought with me and almost completely filled another, bigger notepad that I bought in Spain. All in all, the process of transcribing, editing, adding information, proofreading and making corrections took me about as much as writing my notes. It’s true when they say that writing the first draft of a book means that your work is only halfway done.

What next? The process of writing a book seems daunting when you haven’t done it yet and when you are writing in a foreign language and it still seems daunting even though I wrote and published my first book. I discovered that I enjoy writing in general and writing books in particular, I also love to read books and I think that reading and writing go hand in hand so my plan is to not stop at a single book. I intend to continue writing, I already started doing some work at a nonfiction book and will see how it goes.

The Business of Claque

Imagine that you go to the theater or to the opera, you enjoy the spectacle, you laugh or cry, you applaud and at the end of the show you get paid for your performance as a spectator. This is the business of claque, the business of clapping, claque meaning clap in French. It sounds a bit ridiculous to get paid for being a spectator and enjoying a show but la claque was often employed in the theaters and operas of the nineteen century in order to use the power of social proof to improve the ratings of their performances among spectators. Sometimes, to get some work (and money), claques would employ some underhanded methods like extorting singers and performers: the singer was contacted before the show and advised to pay up or else he/she will be booed off stage.

Business of claque, clapping
Image source: Flickr

The claques were well organized and structured, they were led by a chef de claque, and their members had various specializations: commissaires, commissaries that knew the piece by hart and told their neighbors when a good scene would follow, rieurs – laughers,  pleureurs – criers, they were women usually, chatouilleurs – ticklers, they would go around and tickle people, no, I’m kidding, apparently their role was to keep the audience in good humor and bisseurs, the guys that would enthusiastically shout “Bis! Bis!” after an act.

After the nineteen century, the claquers and their art were discouraged as the adoption of concert etiquette started to spread.

The business of claque was successful due to the effect of social proof (influence) that states that people have the tendency to look at other people for hints on how to behave in a certain context, the more people act and behave in the same way the more correct their behavior seems and the more it influences other people to copy their behavior.