A New Project

Ginger and I are writing a new book. We mentioned in the first blog that we’d keep you abreast of new works, so we want to talk about that now. In the weeks to come, Ginger said she would clean up a chapter or two of draft, and share it with you.

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Before we do that, let’s just talk about another thing. Truth, because that’s the point for this book. I think it’s only fair I tell you what I’m up to. And that’s truth, because every great writer says you have to write the truth – or write truly (and drunk) if you’re Hemingway. So I wrote a novel, just like all the greats, and you know what? I made the whole thing up. Entirely fiction. That’s what novels are, duh – not a shred of truth in it.

Then I realized there must be deeper truths. Properly done, the novel is an artful expression of the human condition in some way – however odd that might seem. Well, I didn’t do that – that’s some heavy lifting for a writer, let me tell you. By the time you have a story, bleed it out, and figure an ending to the damn thing, you have to re-write so it’s readable. When you’ve edited it to a readable manuscript, it reads like molten lead – fluid, but devoid of color and boring as hell. So you have to re-write all the juice into it. By this time your so sick of it, the thought of proof-reading causes panic attacks, because you know you’ll keep finding things to fix, and this cannot be avoided, so it’s procrastinated instead.

IMG_1431This is before anyone else has laid eyes on it, mind you. Later, an editor snarls and makes you feed her cheese and re-write everything again. So it’s hard enough just making an entertaining read without having to weave in some artful, meaningful message redeeming you from the heap of crap you just wrote. Besides, I don’t want redeeming, I want redeemable, preferably in cash. I became a writer so I wouldn’t have to crawl out of my bathrobe before noon to scratch a living at the brickyard.

So all this heavy lifting as a writer seems a stretch too far. I’m opting for a simpler method of truth in this next book. I’m going to tell true stories to practice truth in writing, rather than attempt the brain twisting to come up with a truthful metaphor.

I’ve always wanted to write a travel book. I’ve read many, it’s a favorite type of book; true stories of adventure, drama and mishap in exotic places. My dear friend, Jim, is a travel writer, and I’m jealous. So naturally that is something I’ve thought about since I made the leap to writing. But therein lies the problem. I’m a writer, so I’m broke and have no money to travel. Catch 22 for anyone would-be travel writer who isn’t already well heeled.

IMG_1239Then a solution occurred to me. By the very fact I became a writer at a mature age, I haven’t spent an entire life chained to a keyboard. I actually have a great deal of travel experience already packed away that I can dust off and string together.

Ginger is looking at me like I’m crazy. She’s never seen me gone more than an hour and thinks that’s way too long. Her time between snacks is shorter than that. But she’s only three years old, and doesn’t realize I had a life before her.

I first titled it “The Art of Travel.” I thought that sounded presumptuous and not very literary, especially for a collection of stories that won’t describe anything like an artistic experience. Most stories are about events that were abject misery at the time. It came to me because the art in travel isn’t in the action itself. The art is in the telling. The story is what matters. The event is history.

I changed the title after that, but the sentiment still stands. Which brings me back to truth. And dare I say it…I‘ve been avoiding the other thing…embellishment. There, truth versus embellishment. You will find both in this book. That’s the real point I have to make now, before I can even write it.

It works like this. I write the true story and add a bunch of embellishment that makes the story read nice and have the right drama, or humor, or whatever. But I stay true to the story. You, dear reader won’t ever know the truth from the embellishment. But that doesn’t matter. You’re still getting the true story in the most entertaining way I can deliver. If this obscures facts a bit, so be it. Guilty parties should appreciate that, and the reader should appreciate the fact, without such obscurity, many of these stories wouldn’t be told. It’s still the truth.

This book will be a collage, a collection…an assembly of stories. They are not all my stories, but some are. Dear, anonymous friends and family have related some to me. However, I will write them in the first person, as if they are my stories for the sake of literary expression. Why bother the reader with shifting voice and points of view, when is it of no consequence to the story who it really happened to. It is the fact they are true and interesting stories, hopefully funny, that the reader cares about. If I’m wrong, you’ll tell me.

I’ll change names, of course, and stay vague on dates, precise locations, and I’ll attribute some of my more embarrassing actions to others – to help me objectively tell the tale. By the same reasoning, I’ll take credit for the more admirable actions of others. This artifice of literature will not be brought up again. I just want to preempt litigation.

Travel, in this book means whatever I choose to write about that I can somehow link to a travel situation. It may include IMG_1247stories of travel by car, motorcycle, plane, train, or by foot. I don’t know since I haven’t written anything yet, although I have decided to stay away from the wilderness trekking and backpacking stories. They certainly belong in a travel book of mine, but are of a character and setting that is quite special and I think should be set apart. Therefore, I’ll stick to urban hikes that only occurred subset within a larger travel dimension. I set these parameters out now, lest you to be fooled into thinking we’re actually going somewhere. We may amble, in the fashion of travel at it’s best, not knowing the scene around the bend.

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