People who visit this blog regularly have probably noticed that I haven’t posted since Christmas. There’s a reason, of course, and it has nothing to do with health, thank goodness. No, and while one of the basic mottos I follow is: Procrastinate NOW! That’s not it, either. I’ve been working to fill an old prophesy and a promise to myself. Let me explain.
Back in ’65 when I was going to college in Missouri I was very good friends with my English professor and his family and was one of his star students in his writing classes. One of those was a play writing class where each of us had to write a one-act play. These were later staged at the school. My play was entered in a contest among colleges in Missouri, Iowa and Illinois and my play took second place. Of all those plays submitted, however, mine was the only one that went live again, this time performed at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Illinois.
Sometime during that year the author Erskine Caldwell who wrote the infamous Tobacco Road came to give a lecture at the school. The professor, the late Joel Climenhaga, invited me, and I believe my good friend, Dennis, to dinner to meet Mr. Caldwell. Somewhere towards the bottom of the evening’s second bottle of Jim Beam Joel made the pronouncement to Caldwell that, “of all the students I’ve taught if one of them ever writes a book it will undoubtedly be Philbrick, here.”
People who go to sea are usually great readers. There’s damned little else to do between watches. I’ve been a reader all my life and worked for a number of years earning a living putting words to paper. I wrote numerous articles that were published in national magazines, none of which any of you have ever read, I’m sure. They weren’t big name magazines but what I earned from them helped pay the rent. I even wrote a novel once that no one wanted to buy but it did garner several hand-written rejection letters from publishers but most were simple printed-form “no thanks” rejections.
When I started working on boats I stopped writing. I kept a journal through the years, though, but that was about it except for my blogging.
Books and articles about writing advise prospective authors to “write what you know.” This is, in my opinion, pretty much bullshit. Admittedly authors like James Lee Burke “knows” about south Louisiana and writes about it so beautifully I can “see” those places he writes about because I’ve been there. Carl Hiassen and Tim Dorsey “know” that Florida is inhabited by one of the largest collection of loonies in the world and capture them well in their books. But what the hell does Rowling “know” about wizards or Rice “know” about vampires? I think a better admonition would be “write a book you’d want to read.”
There has been a book like that festering in the few functioning brain cells I have left and when I moved to Panama I started working on just such a book. It’s sort of like the narrator of the story was “channeling” through me and then for a couple of months the bastard clammed up. I couldn’t get him to say a damn word. Recently, though, I haven’t been able to get him to shut up. So that’s what I’ve been doing instead of posting lately.
The book’s time line is broken into three distinct segments. I’ve completed the first and am into the second part now. With the development of ebooks through such outlets as Amazon, Apple store and others I won’t be going through the regular old-style form of book publishing but will be going the developing “indie author” route. I’ll let you know when I get it done.