Friday, September 14, 2007

Yes, I Know It's Been More Than a Week...

I'm struggling mightily with a Major Life Decision.

A dear friend has offered me an opportunity to submit a book proposal.

What I'm struggling with now is just what kind of book to write; hence my struggle, and my Radio Silence.

It will be about music (the imprint specializes in music), it will be about the Backbeat in American music, its history, origins, and manifestations, about Maybelle Carter's seminal guitar technique (which changed everything about how people play guitar), about Appalachia, about poverty, about spirituality, about... Well. You see my problem.

I've also been deeply ambivalent about taking on such a monumental task while holding down a 9 to 5 Jay Oh Bee. There will need to be time to research, to travel (although I'm not all that far from my subject matter), and to pound out 100,000 well-crafted words in a year.

One other minor matter is that this blog may have to take a back seat. I suppose I can blog the process, but I may (I do know myself well enough) suffer from Writer's Exhaustion and never want to look at a keyboard again at the end of each day.

Help me, somebody.

21 comments:

Wren said...

Why not write 100,000 words about Appalachia's music and its relationship to Appalachia's poverty, spirituality and beauty? How about a breathtaking work of fiction with that reality as its base? Ask for three years and make it a work of the heart. The J-O-B will still be a J-O-B, and your friends out here in the blogosphere will still be here, ready to cheer you on. What a wonderful opportunity, Neddie. Really.

blue girl said...

Just do it, Jeddie.

I got used to no Jeddie blogging after clicking over here after two days of silence.

Kidding.

God

Lighten up.

Just write it, Jeddie Ningo. Whatever you want to write. We'll all be the better for it.

Good for you.

giggles said...

Wow, how serendipidous.... I just came from a book reading/signing of a local (for another month, anyway)author, Jon Clinch, who published Finn earlier this year.... His first (published) novel. He was charming, eloquent, brilliant in person,like you, and his writing is ...well...almost as good as yours, Neddie.... He had a regular day J-O-B, but once he started Finn, he said, the writing happened quickly....and he still did his job all throughout... Now he has quit his day job and can do whatever the hell he wants....including moving to Vermont... (The movie deal doesn't hurt, I'm sure!)

Go for it!! Life is too short... LIve LARGE... Maybe this offer is the door to a new calling, a true calling.... At the risk of sounding cliche, do what you love.... I'm sure your children will appreciate your hard work and WW is there to help in all of her wonderful ways.......

Clinch said he posted the idea for the novel and the first few scenes on-line and it went from there with lots of encouragement....so, you don't HAVE to fall of the face of the blog....

Yep, no doubt it's gonna be hard work...(says the woman running for local elected office while still holding down her day J-O-B) but anything worth having is worth working hard for... If it were easy, everyone would do it....(Heck, if you get an advance and it's big enough, you can tell the day job where to go!!!)

JC said...

You can't let this opportunity pass, Neddie. As Wren says, if you need a break from the blog due to the book, take it. We'll miss tripping through the jingosphere, of course, but we will still be here when you get back to pick up the journey where we left off. Plus, we will all have the book to compensate for the loss of our Pepys. You MUST write the book.

The Viscount LaCarte said...

Awesome.

mikeinseattle said...

Hi Neddie,

I am a writer. For 20 years I really had the desire to write screenplays, movies are all I really care about, but didn't follow through.

Then in 2004 I met the wonderful Stewart Stern, screenwriter of Rebel Without a Cause and others, and the youngest 85 year old man you will ever meet, and with him as a mentor he sort of "gave me permission" to do this and make it my life.

I am a software developer, and I run my own business, and this gives me a certain amount of freedom to make my own hours to do research, outline, and then write the screenplay I'm on which I'm in progress. I can sacrifice income to make time if I like, but then, I don't have a family. Its just me and the pooch.

Also, I was talking with my friend Alexa Robbins not too long ago, and I don't think she would mind me sharing this with you. She is married to the author Tom Robbins. (I've loved Tom's books for over 30 years, and it sure was a weird serendipity when I met her, but that's another story.) She mentioned that Tom wasn't currently working on anything after having been continuously working on something his entire adult life. She said it was a change for them both, but in one sense was kind of nice that she had Tom to herself and was not sharing the house with all these characters.

So these anecdotes prompt me to ask,

1) Are you *burning* to do it? Are you ready to live it? Do you have something to say about all these threads that somebody hasn't said before? Writers write. Its what they do.

2) Are Wonder Woman and the kids ready to share the house with these people?

3) Do you have somebody in mind with whom you can be intimate in this process, someone with whom you can share anything, direct, honest, but free of judgment? Wonder Woman? An editor? A mentor? Someone who will reign you in?

4) especially with so many threads, it seems like it would be easy to get off on a tangent and so are you ready to be disciplined enough to keep it tight?

You know, one of my guilty pleasures is reading Neal Stephenson's stuff; a lot of people don't like him, but I find him relaxing if I don't want a difficult read. But sometimes he sure could use somebody to reign him in. Norman Mailer sometimes had the same tendency.

Before I go off on any more tangents, that is all.

Best to you

Anonymous said...

Nice problem to have...!

Simon said...

Since you're one of the few writers i've ever read who truly makes music come *alive* for me, I'd gladly sacrifice reading your Blog to hold the eventual book in my hands.

I came to this own conclusion with blogging: the daily time investment required for writing about life with any genuine depth steals away too much time from actually being out living life to have something worth writing about to begin with. It can only ever be a soundbite.

My blog fell silent and six months later I can score an honest-to-FSM arrangement for a string quartet. Bobby sacrificed his to work on an album that i'm sure is going to leave my jaw on the floor. You can hold a book in your hands Neddie - a *real* book, that I know from your writing ability will be an absolute classic in the genre.

You're off the hook with 'Day To Day'. Get out there on the Triumph, travel, research, listen and write.

Chuck Champion said...

Like Simon, I find your music writing a rare tonic. Easy for me to say (since I won't be doing the heavy lifting), but go for it. Lots of support from the 'sphere.

JD said...

You write too well not to do it. Full speed ahead, Mr. Jingo.

Roger D. Parish said...

If you don't grab this opportunity with both hands, you'll live the rest of your life with regret, wondering "what might have been?"

Go for it.

jdmack said...

Don't do it! Failure is a certainty. Nothing good will come of it. You'll rue the day that you agreed to write this book. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth if you try to write this book. You're not good enough anyway. What makes you think you can write a book? Give up! People who take blind leaps fall to their death!

Actually, I don't mean any of that. I just wanted the comments to be fair and balanced ; ).

I hope you write the book. And I hope you'll sign my copy!

J. D.

David Harmon said...

Go for it! In 600KB or so of text, you oughta be able to easily manage all the topics you mentioned, especially given your skill.

mg said...

You have a kick-ass imagination. Don't ignore it and simply pursue non-fiction.

Sure, your writing is good enough to make even a historical exposition of the Appalachian roots of the Backbeat interesting. But, to paraphrase Mr. Wild 'n Crazy - it's like dancing about architecture.

And there are several interesting novels through which the weeds of American Music can grow and thrive. Learning things we don't know is always more interesting when it happens in the context of a well-told story.

So write about the Backbeat (you can't lose it). But make it a story. If you tell it, you'll tell it well.

Kevin Wolf said...

That's great news, Neddie. You're a natural born writer - at least it feels that way reading your posts. (For all I know you sweat blood over every one.) Of any blogger, or even columnist, I read regularly I am least surprised about finding you writing a book.

Please reserve my copy immediately.

Brenda said...

I began writing my first book (whoa that word FIRST slipped in) this summer. I recommend the activity for the intimacy, patience, and humbleness it offers. Like. Nothing. Else.

Might want to think about how you will use humor in the book.

I would read anything you uttered about Maybelle.

Get some writerly friends and rely on them mightily.

Neddie said...

Very strange... I typed up a comment thanking all you nice people for your encouraging words, hit "Publish," and...nothing.

Well. Anyway, thank all you nice people for your encouraging words. I think the most sobering and realistic take is sfmike's, though. This is gonna be a yearlong SLOG.

That is, if it happens. The committee to evaluate book-proposals meets Thursday. I'll know then.

Ezra said...

Your mention of Appalachia reminded me: I recently read a book called "At Home in the Heart of Appalachia," by John O'Brien, that managed to merge autobiography, demography, reporting, and other odd scraps in one non-fiction package. It has its weaknesses but on the whole I think it worked. It's a first book by a mature writer. Check it out.

Ol' Pal D said...

F'n PRAGUE - you think that shiz woulda happened if I didn't jump? Yeah, it's scary - so what? And those people above are your fuel, baby. Listen to them, brother.

/thinks of what would piss Neddie off enough to get him to go for it just out of spite...

got it: "Neal STEPHENSON did it..."

:)

Linkmeister said...

If you can write about this subject as well as you did about that mean sumbitch Mobberley, it'll be a wonderful book. Do it.

Jol said...

Congrats, that is great news. Looking forward to buying a copy (even though it probably will be above my musical knowledge level).

I grew up on the outskirts of Appalachia (I guess) but I try to forget that as much as I can.