When I first started writing the book, I put together the requisite non-fiction book proposal: I wrote the first chapter, summaries of the rest of the chapters, and an overview. Then, as I said earlier, the interested publisher got fired, my literary agent never called me back and I decided to give the book project a break.
A really long break.
Every once in a while, I’d open up the Word file and peek at the chapter and the summaries. It was a standard true-crime book, told in narrative fashion, which is my favorite form of writing and one that I learned at the St. Petersburg Times. And slowly, the heavy rock of discouragement lifted, and I started to be drawn back to the book more and more.
The tweaking began.
And since all writers need feedback, I started cautiously asking different people if they’d give their opinions. I eventually got downright bold about it, emailing the entire thing first to my sister, and then to a close friend.
“Not bad,” they both said. “But you need to put more of yourself in it.”
Ak! That’s not what reporters do. We are classically trained in, Just the facts, ma’am, and we don’t insert ourselves into our stories.
But these were people whose opinions I respected, so I revealed a little more of what it was like to report on that serial rapist case.
And they became like hungry baby birds: “More! More!”
So I did. And the more I revealed, the easier the self disclosure became. Soon it wasn’t enough to just detail the process and the effects of covering this case, I decided that I needed to include some of my history so that the reader would have context for my reactions and choices.
And then I took a deep breath, and gave the bare bones of the book to an audience I was sure would hate it: Cops.
To be continued…