I have finally stepped up to the plate, folks. I’m doing the Georgia Bred book.
Let me tell you, the whole idea of putting together a book is something that I never saw coming. There are so many good writers out there. So many great books. Some I’ve read over and over because they intrigue me every time I bend the spine open. It’s hard to imagine that I would ever be the guy that someone reads over a cup of coffee on a quiet Saturday morning.
A few months back I began seriously toying with the idea. I drove down to the big box retail-extravaganza bookstore in Columbus to see what it felt like to walk among real authors. A virtual sea of books. Fiction and non-fiction. Humor and Poetry. History and Literature. Cookbooks. Murder mysteries. Books documenting the rise and fall of nations. Music books. Car books. Animal books. Cartoon books. Books about home decor. Books about cats. Dog books. So many books I felt dizzy.
Right inside the front doors is a table with a huge slick poster on a pedestal. The New York Times Top Ten Best Sellers. Hardcover editions. I’m thinking, these are real books here. I had never heard of a single one of them. But what do I know, right? The only name I even recognized was Bill Clinton, but I’m guessing he had a ghost writer. Slick covers. Professional graphics. Classy headshots of the author on the back cover.
I am so out of my league, here.
Right behind that first table was another display. CLEARANCE. I honestly could not tell the two tables apart. These were the same great looking books by people I don’t know like on the best seller table. Maybe they were on the best seller list last month and now they’re not selling. Maybe they actually suck so bad, that they’ve been tossed aside like week-old-moldy bread. A guy aspires to write a book and look where he ends up. On clearance.
You can look it up yourself, but there are nearly one million books published in the US each year. Over 2.2 million worldwide. On average each book sells about 250 copies before it finds itself forgotten.
For comparison, John Grisham has sold around 300 million copies of his books. Jackie Collins has pedaled her romance novels to the tune of 500 million copies. I find this interesting. William Shakespeare and Agatha Christie share the top spot at an estimated 2 billion, with a “b”, copies sold. Hamlet and Murder on the Orient Express holding the same kind of literary stature.
I am overwhelmed walking up and down row after row of books in this place. All the words written on these pages. All the people up at odd hours jotting down notes so they won’t forget an idea. Sitting in the dark at 2AM in the glow of a laptop, working and reworking sentences. Trying to keep the storyline straight. Hoping that they can figure out how to make this chapter flow into the next. Squeezing every ounce of mental energy out of their weary brain to get the closing just right. Slaving over a book that maybe, maybe 250 people will read.
And what for? Unless you are one of the rare ones, it won’t be for the money. I guess some writers just feel like they have something that needs to be said and putting it all into a book is their way of trying to tempt someone to listen. And here’s the thing, they chose to write. No one forced this on them. They decided to take a chance on a book that will likely fall into oblivion before the ink dries.
I sat down on a bench and started to thumb through a couple of books that caught my eye. Wondering how this book got here. Trying to analyze whether or not I should even think about doing this thing. I have no idea where to begin. I can write the words, but that is a million miles away from being a published author.
My earliest clear memory of being around books was when Mama would take us to the library in Griffin. An old two-story brick building with wooden floors that creaked. The wooden chairs at wooden tables clunked and echoed in those grand high-ceiling rooms every time you moved them. You could hear soft footsteps falling as patrons made their way up the stairs or moved between the stacks working their way from the card catalogue across the room in search of the Dewey Decimal numbers stuck to the spine of each book. Whispered conversations obligating the librarian to hunt you down like a panther and shush you.
Ever since, I have always loved the feel of a book in my hands. And I love libraries way more than bookstores. Old books more than new books.
I know one thing for sure. If this book becomes a reality, there will be no fame or fortune in it. I think I’m doing this for the simple reason that I like books. I like the feel of them. I like the smell of them. I should read more of them than I do. I am not an avid reader. But I buy books. I keep books. I have books on my shelves. I have books in tubs up in the attic. I want to know that they are there in case I want to read one some cold morning after I retire. A fire in the fireplace. A cup of coffee in my hand. That’s part of it.
The other reason is I want my kids and grandkids to have a copy. If a book with my name on it never goes beyond their grasp, and they keep it, and read it, and occasionally take it down off the shelf and read it again, I will be satisfied that it was worth the effort.
This dream started this whole journey. Beth and I both took a vacation, probably 8 years ago now, for the sole purpose of writing down some of the family history, recording some of the interesting details, the odd-ball uncles, the stories that we knew about our parents and beyond. We actually got away to focus on writing for the sake of our kids. Even for the grandkids that we did not yet have.
And we did it with legal pads and ink pens. Print and cursive. The stuff that real writing is made of. None of this laptop sissy stuff that I’m using right now. That is really where Georgia Bred was born.
Our notes sat in a box untouched until I started writing these stories to you exactly two years ago this week. I worked my way through those legal pads in the first dozen or so stories. I thought, “Well, that was short and sweet.” But then, I just kept writing. And here we are.
Thanks to my buddy, Dale, I found this nice lady who is guiding me through this process. Layout is underway. Chapter titles and graphics are being developed. This could go to print sometime this fall.
Get ready world. Georgia Bred is about to get its very own ISBN number.