Blog 2: Building a book
I forget who said this, some smart-alecky pundit, H.L. Mencken maybe? Here it is: “It is said that every journalist has a book in them. And that is precisely where it should stay.”
Lots of my colleagues over the years have steadfastly ignored this good advice. And so their memoirs, their novels, their tomes large and small pretty much all gather dust now. The very toughest writing exercise ” unless of course you are a celebrity and can hire a ghost, which means you don’t actually write at all ” well, it’s book writing. It just ain’t fair.
Naturally, as I plod along in a smalltown newspaper career (which I love, incidentally), my family, my friends and even a couple of by god published book writers no doubt aiming to torment me too have offered their own bit of free advice: Write. A. Book.
Nooooooooo! I play with words all day, and half the night, as it is. Last thing I want to do is write some more. Besides, what is there to write about?
Oops, bad question. My sages have answers for that. Write about wildland firefighting (my real career until a knee blew out). Write about life. Compile your columns. Just write.
Now, that’s a great head rush. Loved ones believe in me. Friends think I ought to at least try. Even a couple of real talents suggest this can be done.
In fact, the first barrier is belief in yourself. Which goes back to the quote up top. Journalists tend not to lack for egos. This life thing being all about me, how can I not be fascinated with my own life? But don’t you find that kind of vanity incurably dull?
Yet books get written. And a few, a lottery winner’s worth, still get read. The only reason more aren’t read is that we’ve found so many other ways to tell stories, too. TV, film, plays, Web, video games, magazines, newspapers, even still the campfire. We have a fire pit under the cottonwoods and overlooking the lawn. Great stories there, fueled by smores and various sorts of spirits in the summer.
So apologies to Mencken’s spirit or whomever, I’m flouting that good advice. I’ll write a book. On what, who knows? How? Same answer.
But there’s lots of advice out there. Once you get passed the first: Don’t you dare. This alternate blog will explore. Maybe I’ll even figure out the story and share the chapters with you. What the heck?
Maybe you’ll help me write this thing. Now wouldn’t that be something?