A couple of years ago I spent days, weeks and months on a book manuscript about my years of writing to Ellen and Reid. It was chock full of helpful advice and tasty tidbits and what I presumed were fatherly witticisms. A sure-fire best seller, I thought. Who wouldn’t buy such a gem?
Well, I can name at least three non-purchasers: my former A.P. national editor Norm and my good friends Julie and Jenn.
That’s because when their edited copies came back, I knew the book was DOA. They put a beat down on the manuscript. To say they “hammered” the draft puts it mildly. A lead balloon cannot sink any faster than my deflated hopes for publishing success. Proving again the old journalistic adage that the greatest joy is editing someone else’s copy, their editing pens probably ran out of ink.
As I look back, of course they were correct. The book was bad. The three slice & dicers played their roles perfectly. Editors are of no use if they pull punches. The best editors are the harshest. And this trio was the best of editors. So much for my grand illusions as a book writer. Poof.
Yet I remain undeterred. After an appropriate period of gestation (and for mourning), I have mentally regrouped. The book will make a U-turn in approach and tone. The redraft is underway, and per the scribbled notations of Norm, Julie and Jenn, it will be devoid of the preachy lectures and inanity that drove them batty. Hell, it drove me batty, too.
Bridger Wilderness update: Our small band of hikers is growing. Although an asterisk will go by their names, Jill and Troy Aleong* from Charlotte are tentatively on board. Tom Andersen of Eugene, Oregon is our fourth walker. The trip is set for the final full week in July, 2011.
Here is the typical Friday letter to my mom. I hope the staff at her care facility keep reading the notes to her. They say so, but there’s no real way of knowing.
October 15, 2010
Mom: I literally gave up on dinner last night. I punted. It boiled down to pancakes nuked in the microwave and peanut butter. The peanut butter was on crackers, not the pancakes. But it was the best I could do with the energy I could muster. There was a grand plan earlier in the day to grill a burger but the meat stayed frozen and I went for the easiest thing available. You eat better than I do.
Spend most of last night on my church newsletter. Been doing it now for a couple of years. It’s the one smidgen of creative work I do every month and it keeps me occupied and out of trouble although my pastor would beg to differ. He gives me free reign and that’s fine by me. It probably takes somewhere in the 20 to 30 hour range every month. Hope the guy upstairs takes notice.
It has really cooled down. We’re not in the 30s yet like you guys have been but it is a noticeable drop in temperatures. Why, I even had to wear a jacket to work the other morning. This weekend I’ll fire up the bike and head West and I will be sure to wear my leathers to ward off the cold. It really is a beautiful time of year down this way. I will avoid the “mountains” because all the leaf watchers will be out by the tens of thousands, clogging up the roadways as they gaze at the trees. If the bike had a horn, I’d honk those slow pokes out of my way.
Good news for Reid. He got a raise at his job, and they shuffled him around to give him some new big advertising accounts. He’s pretty excited about it, and there’s some hope that he might get a real promotion in the not too distant future. That kid is going to end up being a Chicagoan although he makes noise about moving to New York City every now and then. As I tell him, kid, you don’t make enough money to visit New York, let alone live there. But it would be a good time of life for him to be a little adventurous. Heck, it would give me a reason to venture to New York to see him.
Ellen continues to battle through the educational turmoil. Her first round of parent-teacher conferences were this week and I’ll be anxious to know how those went. She must be a really good teacher because she spends a lot of time at the school working on lesson plans and things like that. She just loves it. I wish I’d paid a little closer attention to the teachers I had. They must not have inspired me.
Nebraska is doing pretty well in football. I know this because all the football experts on TV are saying what a good team they have. The teams down this way are mostly lousy, especially the pro team (the Carolina Panthers) which has yet to win a game. They are really, really bad. El-stinko. At least I don’t have tickets. Heck, I don’t even watch it on TV. Well, I’m gonna wrap things up. Stay by the phone because I will call you real soon. Keep eating that ice cream for me.