Lately I’ve been pondering whether to turn these blog entries into a book. My friend Jeff, who I’ve known since high school but have not seen for 50+ years, has been encouraging me. He is a writer who is heavily involved in the publishing world, and he is convinced that together we can make a book that is of the highest quality, which pertains to the quality of paper, printing and binding, one that will be successful both artistically and commercially.
The book Jeff has in mind will feature Kim’s photographs, especially the birds but also the parts of America where we have gone in pursuit of adventures that typically include birds. Her photos would be framed by our story: Kim’s cancer, her refusal to give in to it, and our teamwork, all leading to the construction of our Bark House – not the kind of project that folks in their mid-70s with stage 4 cancer typically undertake. Jeff suggested that I minimize the self-deprecating humor that characterizes many of the blog entries, as it takes away from the story.
I am, so far, reluctant:
Writing a book is a lot of work. I thoroughly enjoy writing my blog, whether I’m doing my own little spin or writing to frame Kim’s photos. Editing and rewriting are not as much fun as dashing off a short post. Think of the difference between going for an afternoon walk in the woods and hiking the Appalachian Trail. The latter is a greater achievement, to be sure, but it requires a certain level of commitment, of energy, that I’m not sure I can summon. If I do commit to the book project, what would I stop doing because of the time commitment?
· going on photo-walks with Kim
· doing my share of household chores, including yardwork and snow shoveling
· writing the blog
· feeding birds
· enjoying second cup of coffee while watching birds from the porch
· enjoying a touch more wine while watching birds and deer from the porch
· running errands in Traverse City, including medical stuff
· photographing wildlife for the local Land Conservancy
· watching stupid television (e.g., sports, The Bachelor, political discussions)
· watching quality television (national news, nature documentaries, sports)
· streaming quality movies
· streaming stupid movies that we thought would be quality ones
· checking the weather
· playing Words With Friends
· cultivating new friendships
· having old friends visit (yes, we mean you)
· looking for two keys we lost during our moves
· eating, including snacks
· checking my email
· driving to the post office to get my junk mail
· sitting in front of my computer
On the other hand, Jeff said he would do a lot of the editorial and publisher-related work. And while there would be a large (how large?) initial cost, Jeff assures me we would make it back, and more, once the book is out and selling. He suggests that once Kim and I are interviewed a few times on national television, sales will really take off. (Kim is very shy about public speaking, so we would have to work on this.) He says the book will leave Kim’s artistic and my literary mark on the world.
Do I really care about leaving my mark? Once I am dead, I won’t be there to appreciate it. My small blog-mark seems sufficient, and maybe I will follow Emily Dickinson’s path to fame by having my work discovered long after I am gone.
I can’t really speak for Kim, but I doubt that winning fame is one of her priorities. She is leaving her mark on the world through the cards she makes, the photos she shares through the blog, through the homes she has designed and built (3 plus a major remodel), and through her children, who have learned her values. She also does not think her photos are sharp enough to put into a book, partly because of inevitable problems with the printing process, and partly because she has very high standards of quality, and her own work, the feels, falls short. Jeff says he can talk her out of that.
After speaking about the issue with Kim, we agreed that what it really comes down to is this: Do I want to spend my remaining time playing outside (hiking, gardening, shoveling snow, collecting Petoskey stones, kayaking, feeding birds) or sitting in front of my computer?
What do you think? To book, or not to book?