On The Table Read, “The Best Book Reader Magazine in the UK”, author Tony Blankenship shares the work that went into his new book, Self-Help Sucks, The Anti-Self-Help Guide To Inner Peace and Contentment.
Written by JJ Barnes
I interviewed author Tony Blankenship about his life and career, what inspired him to start writing, and the work that went into his book, Self-Help Sucks.
Tell me a bit about who you are.
My name is Tony Blankenship. I’m a chef, dad, and spiritual seeker turned author and speaker. I am 51 years old and live in Santa Fe, New Mexico with my family and collection of shelter dogs. My goal is to try and help create change that is consistent and meaningful in people’s lives.
When did you first WANT to write a book?
I wrote a book before I wrote my most recent book. I had sent it off to an editor for a literary review and while that book was getting looked at, I was told in meditation to “write this book.” I was told the title and that morning after some resistance on my part, I started writing it.
When did you take a step to start writing?
I started doing a daily three-page journal entry in the morning and one day I just sat down at the computer and started writing. I had a lot of insecurity as I don’t consider myself an educated person and have pretty bad ADD, but I have had lots of encouragement and help along the way.
How long did it take you to complete your first book from the first idea to release?
It took like a year. I think.
What were your biggest challenges with writing Self-Help Sucks?
My biggest challenge was, and still is, resistance. I fight the work. I procrastinate and daydream and look at a ton of websites all in a way to resist what is inside of me that wants to come out. I believe that thing is inside of all of us. It may need to get chipped off and polished through repetitive work but I assure you that it is there.
My other challenge, which is similar, is my insecurity about writing and attempting to pivot form this person I have been my whole adult life to a new role. I have had to fight doubt every step of the way.
What was your research process for Self-Help Sucks?
My research process came for my own life experiences, so in that way it was easy/hard to write. Easy in the fact that I know the material inside and out. Hard, because of how vulnerable I needed to be. It is a very personal adventure in which you get to learn all kinds of interesting things about yourself.
How did you plan the structure of Self-Help Sucks?
I didn’t plan it. I sat down and started at the beginning and wrote until the end. I know there are lots of different ways authors do it. In my case currently, the story takes over and the muse that is inside takes over at some point and I just write.
Understanding that I will get distracted, I will want to call long-lost aunts and uncles and have a deep desire to find some hidden thing or bike part in my shed. Then I sit back down and ask to be spoken to and write some more.
Did you get support with editing, and how much editing did Self-Help Sucks need?
I decided early on that I wanted the best and most help I could get. I am not an editor, and frankly, I am not even sure I am much of a writer.
The editing process was amazing and I had several people help throughout the project. Ann from Command Z Content walked me through several rewrites and was very kind and patient. Her website is https://commandzcontent.com. Also,I made sure to get it proofread, and even after all of that, I still found a mistake. Editing is so worth it.
What is the first piece of writing advice you would give to anyone inspired to write a book?
Just start writing. do not worry about where its going or how its going to sell. Just make a start. Read a lot of books. Read them for entertainment but also read them as a way to learn.
Can you give me a hint about any further books you’re planning to write?
I have this vision of writing a book that talks about my journey to becoming a chef with included recipes in it. I also have an autobiographical fictional story idea about a girl who survives childhood trauma to become an addict and eventually recovers. That’s as far as I’ve gotten so far.
And, finally, are your proud of your accomplishment? Was it worth the effort?
I have known so many people who have talked about writing a book but never did it. I did it. I wrote something that can help whoever reads it. It was so worth the effort. I haven’t gotten wealthy yet but I have touched people’s lives.
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