Questions That Need Answers

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November 5th, 2021

I checked into the “Rules of Blogging” handbook and discovered that there is no mandate that states blogs must be posted once a week on Thursdays. So here I am, after a couple of weeks where I just didn’t have the time or the mental bandwidth to write anything, and son of a gun if it’s not actually Friday. Hope that’s OK.

Not much to divulge this week. It was just last night, after dinner, when I finally hit “Save” after completing a front-to-back sweep through my new book “How Far?” in terms of proof reading. I found a few glitches, missing letters, and extra spaces, but that only makes the “glass half-empty” part of me wonder how many other things I missed. We’ll see. What that landmark moment brought to mind was a question in my head, and that question led to more questions. So here I am to answer them to the best of my ability.

Why is proof reading so hard?

Well, I don’t think it is for someone who didn’t write the text in the first place. As the author, your brain tends to fill in gaps and mentally fix mistakes without you ever actually doing it. You “hear” the book more than you read it. I’ve heard of various techniques some people use, and one of them is to actually read the text backward. I’ve tried that. I’m not capable of it.

For me, this sweep through the book was made more complex by the fact I was not just looking for goofs or mistakes, but also finding those “clunky bits” that had bothered me from the beginning. When you write something that just doesn’t flow or please you, it’s sometimes hard to figure out what’s wrong with it. When you give it space and let it settle a little more, you can see it and think “Why did I leave that alone? It’s so obvious now that it could be better.”

Is the book good?

That’s a hard one. I go through phases where I know it’s terrible and then I read through it again and tears come to my eyes because I know it’s some of the best stuff I’ve ever written.

It’s different. It’s not “Bats, Balls, & Burnouts” and all about my life story. Most of it is made up. It was a stretch. It’s still a stretch. But late last night before I closed my laptop and headed to bed, I had a warm feeling about it. I did the best I could. I found new ways of writing and composing. I created something.

I didn’t write it just for me, though. I just wrote it to push my limits and get it out there in the universe. If people like it, that’s a bonus. I recall hearing an interview with Geddy Lee from Rush, when he said “We don’t write songs to address what’s popular at the moment. We write songs we like. And, if other people like them too then that’s a great thing.” That’s kind of how I felt about the process. It’s great that I liked it. I’m proud of it. If other people like it too, well that’s a “great thing” just like Geddy said.

What was the hardest part of writing this book?

Just keeping it straight. Writing as two different fictional characters, with completely different backgrounds, was a challenge. Their voices were easy. I knew them and considered them friends of mine who just happened to live in my head. Keeping it all linear and consistent was hard. To go through it and read so many passages that flow correctly and make me smile, well that was ultra rewarding.

What did I learn through this process?

I learned a lot. It was like saying “OK, you played baseball for all those years so let’s try hockey now” even though I really didn’t know how to skate. It was so far outside of my comfort zone it was very daunting. It was totally something new, and I had to learn the skills and the moves.

I also had to learn to be patient. It takes time. It takes concentration and focus. It happens at its own rate. You can’t force it. Even though I finished the initial manuscript on July 4, I spent last night going through it one more time. It’s October now. It takes time.

When can you buy it and where will it be for sale?

That’s a great question I still don’t know the answer to. I’m done, for the most part. It’s written, it’s edited, it’s proofed, and it’s polished up like a classic car. We still need a cover and we need the publisher to format it and bring it to life. It’s not a short process. January? I don’t think so. February or March? I think that’s likely.

I’m going to work with Outskirts Press again, and when “Bats, Balls, & Burnouts” was published they did not have any process to make it available on Amazon before publication. I haven’t gotten that far with them on this book, so we’ll see if pre-ordering is now an option.

I’ve gotten outreach emails from a variety of publishers, including Barnes & Noble, but as I dig into what they offer and how they want to do it I still think Outskirts is the way to go. I trust them, I have a track record with them, and I know how the process works.

“How Far?” will be available on all the same platforms my first book was on. Amazon will be the easiest way to get it. I’ll let you know when we “go live” and it’s ready for you to purchase.

And by the way, I know it can be less expensive to buy a used copy on Amazon. They still have more than a few of those for sale right now, with “Bats, Balls, & Burnouts” but the deal for me is this: I only get a royalty if you buy the book through the regular channels. Buying a used copy or buying it on eBay earns me nothing. Is that ultra-important to me? Not really. I won’t make a dime on this book in the end. But, yeah it’s cool to get royalty checks every now and then. It’s a nice payback for all the work I put into it.

As for other random questions…

Did I watch the World Series?

I watched every game. I didn’t have a rooting interest, and I actually really like and admire a lot of players on both the Houston and Atlanta teams, but when baseball is being played, I’m watching.

Why didn’t I play in the big leagues?

The easy answer is, because I wasn’t good enough. I got a lot of my father’s DNA but not enough. I’m proud of my career, from grade school, to high school, to college, and pro ball. I’m just as proud of my time in semipro ball, in Sauget and Fairfax. I did a lot. I made the most of it. I’m proud of it. I just wasn’t good enough to get to the mountain top. Very few get there.

What’s up with your front teeth?

If you saw my post on Facebook, you know that after 42 years I finally got the crowns on my two front teeth replaced. It was a big deal.

In June of 1979, after the Detroit Tigers told me to go home and the Oakland A’s signed me and told me to get my butt up to Medford, Oregon as soon as possible, I was there only a couple of weeks before I got seriously hurt. The Louisville Slugger that hit me could have cost me an eye, quite easily, but instead it “only” created a need for more than 50 stitches on my right cheek and the need for two crowns that took the place of my original two front teeth. The dentist in Medford said they should last between 15 to 20 years.

The new me. Ain’t they pretty!

I finally pulled the trigger to get them replaced because they had outlived that guess and they had shifted around enough to drive me crazy. It wasn’t much fun, but we’re done with it now.

So that’s it for this blog installment. My brain is still mush from all the proofing and editing.

The big goal now is to turn all these digital files into a book and get it out there for everyone to read. I hope you like it. Time will tell.

Speaking of “liking” things, if you have the time and inclination to click not the “Like” button below, that would be cool. I’d appreciate that enormously.

See you soon!