Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Kenny Rogers, the First Edition and my writing

I remember when I first starting thinking about writing my book In Times Passed.  I worked at a factory and was a product grader.  I would pull off the line anything that didn't meet quality requirements.  Doesn't take much thought or intelligence, just good automaton-like reflexes. I would listen to music, day dream, write letters in my head while my eyes registered flaws and my hands reached out and grabbed, flipped and dropped the item into the correct bin based on the type of flaw.

Then a song came on the radio by Kenny Rogers and the First Edition, "I just dropped in (to see what condition my condition was in)." As I listened, the story of a man who found a means to travel in time started playing out in my mind.  I liked the image of him "dropping in to see what condition [his] condition was in."  And it was there that the idea for my book came from. I actually didn't start writing it for several months. Each night at work, I would run the story through my mind again and again, working out the characters, problems he would run into, who his friends were, where and when it was all happening.  And every once in a while, that song would play on the radio again and refresh the images in my mind.  So finally I sat down and began writing out the story.

The book has evolved a lot since then, changing, repeatedly edited, redrafted, etc. I thought of it as the book I was learning to write on, though I had written two other books before I began it.  It seemed to be the one I most wanted to make work.  I went on to write a sequel for it and then a third and fourth, thinking all the time that one of them would be good enough to get published.  But I never really made the effort to publish.  Oh, I did some half-hearted efforts:  I sent the manuscript to a contest once and a synopsis of it to a publisher another time.  Nothing came of it.  I've redrafted it several times since then.

So here we are in the digital age.  I can self-publish via and see if someone can enjoy the story as much as I enjoyed thinking of it, writing it and redrafting it.  When I think of that book, it reminds me of the days in the factory and how much it made the time go by for me.  And I still think of it as the book I learned to write on.  And I think each one since has been an improvement. a step forward in the skill of story telling.  So it isn't the best book out there.  I hope one day, someone will call it an early Gibbs, the one to read to get a sense of where I started. Where one can "just drop in to see what condition my condition was in."

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