I’m beginning to catch sight of my next book now that I’ve transcribed five out of the six journals I wrote on my last trip, backpacking throughout six countries of South America earlier this year. My title has already changed three or four times, so I know that things are developing very normally for me.
So much steady typing can be a pain in the hind end, quite literally, and exercise usually suffers in the name of art. Well, pre-art, to be honest. What I’ll have on my table when I finish carving out the story narration from all the other material in these rather well-documented fragments of life, will be an entire cow. My last book taught me this. The totality of my report is a whole cow that would not fit into anybody’s oven. As a writer, I must get out the carving knives and start isolating the roasts and the steaks. The challenge will be to make lively and interesting chapters out of a trip that didn’t have any desperate and dangerous scenes.
But, maybe I wouldn’t have survived to write another day…if I had, say… been flying through a thunderstorm between Brazil and France during that journey. Hey, if I’d been going around the world on that trip, it could have happened!
So, what do I do with the scenes I did wind up with?
Well, the other day I read a published article by a woman who had spent a mere week and a day in four wildlife locations of Belize with the express purpose of sighting a wild jaguar in the jungle. I’ve never been to Belize, but I have been to Central American jungles in Panama, Costa Rica, and Nicaragua; as well as in the Peruvian Amazon, and I’m here to tell you that actual jungles are not quite as exciting as our celluloid medium would have us believe. In fact, they can look like my Florida front yard did when I first moved here…only the plants are ten times larger and much more tangled. But still, more or less, familiar.
This woman wanted to escape the asphalt jungle where stocks were crashing like falling coconuts and everybody was going bananas, so she decided that the cure would be to lay eyes on a very elusive prize – a big cat, specifically a jaguar, in its natural environment. It didn’t happen. She did see some jaguar poop on the trail, and she did get to pet a jaguar in a local zoo. But it had been raised in captivity.
Did she go home without a story? Heck no! She had a lot of great photos; she could write really well, and she put a clever spin on the story so that we didn’t feel cheated at all. In fact, we had to agree that “Life is just like that…and there will always be a tomorrow…when you least expect it.” Maybe the jaguar will come to her. Maybe one day when she’s jogging in Central Park…..
Anyway, I’m kidding around, because as I work on all this good stuff, written and half-forgotten, I can’t wait until I get to the real book-writing stages which are coming up next. I, optimistically, expect that portion of the work to whiz by. But then, I always do. Can I live with the fact that I didn’t even set foot into Chile, when that is such an important chunk of the Andean Spinal Column which I went down there to investigate? I’m not sure that I can, but perhaps that will turn out to be my elusive jaguar.
Plus, I took a great leap of faith last Sunday. I signed on with Outskirts Press (http://www.outskirtspress.com) to publish this new print-On-demand book of mine. I signed up at such an early point in the game because they offered 20% off to anybody willing to take the plunge during the Fourth of July holiday weekend. This decision wasn’t actually all that sudden because I’ve been considering going with them for many, many months and have long been studying their website and pondering the possibilities. They will now become my middleman publishing house because they offer lots of services which I farmed out the last time when I formed my own publishing house and dealt directly with the printer. I loved my experience then, and could, happily, do it again, but I particularly like the ease of formatting and of cover design that I’ll have with Outskirts, as well as a whole lot of marketing and distribution services, which I don’t have going for me now.
As I did before, throughout all the stages of book production, I’ll be sharing the adventure with you. Some authors might want you to believe that they’re being published by a big New York Publishing House. That’s so 1950’s! Self-publishing is the wave of the future, as far as producing books in any form – printed, digital, and who knows what else to come. This is not vanity press, and it never will be, but for a long time that’s the only alternative we writers had. I never got in on that; but I didn’t do the big boys either. Let’s just say my hands were tied and my words were stifled, until now. Plus, this is really fun! It’s a bandwagon, folks, and I’m sitting high up there on top of it, chronicalling my progress in this blog as I go. The view is fine!
I produce my books just like I backpack. Put it on and try it out! Get in the game and see where you wind up! Since I have a whole stable of manuscripts waiting to shoot through the starting gate, this experiment will show me which method works best for me. I plan to be doing this for years, so I’ve gotta get this business figured out. Okay! It’s off to the races!