Last week, I said I wanted to write a book [What Next?]. I’ve already written one. Technically. Co-written. I don’t talk about it much. The money was astounding but it was a difficult project that came at a crappy time in my life.
Wally Bunn worked for AT&T, starting as a lineman and working up to CEO of one of the Baby Bells after “the breakup of the biggest corporation in American history. ” [Wiki: Breakup of the Bell System] Leah Atkins and I helped him self-publish his memoir.
I Am a Telephone Man: Wallace R. Bunn’s Life in the Bell System
by Leah Rawls Atkins and Katherine Tuttle Walcott
Pine Ridge House 2009
Obituary at Legacy.com: Wallace R. Bunn
+ Wally was a cool dude. He had done interesting things and lived through interesting times. He had great stories which he told well. Interviewing him was about the easiest I’ve done. Watching him run a meeting was a better education than a business school class.
+ Much research and reading was required. This counts as fun for an information junkie. I got to quote my father calling the break up, “The worst decision Judge Greene ever made.” (p105) Although Judge Greene insisted that the agreements were made before he ruled on the case. But I digress.
+ Our writing meshed well. One of us would draft a chapter, the other would correct. By the end, I couldn’t tell who had written what.
+ Money. A sizable amount both as a lump sum and as an hourly rate.
+ A large amount of work. It kept me busy while the freelance world crashed and burned. By the time I got my head out of telephone land, 2008 had come and gone.
– Remember what I said about wanting to take a flamethrower to your co-author’s house [Next]? Ask me how I know. I have no doubt the feeling is mutual. We had two problems. First, I kept everything as electronic as possible. We are talking oodles of text. Easier to edit a file than type-in handwritten corrections. Or so I thought. Halfway through, I realized that Miss Leah was old school and low-tech. I started printing out everything and carrying piles of paper to her house. It got a little better.
What I did not realize until after was that she wanted to be more of an emeritus senior author, lending advice and support while I did the heavy lifting. No problem. It would have been an reasonable exchange of opportunity in return for participation. A historically acceptable Master/Apprentice arrangement. Meanwhile, I was being the deferential junior author and not getting in the way of her project. None of this was said outright and I never guessed, because she is Southern and I am dense.
So, yeah. Not gonna work with anyone anytime soon.
– Validity. It doesn’t feel real. It’s not what I mean when I say I want to write a book.
– A large amount of work. Typing. So much typing. Two people does not make half the work. Between drafting and rewriting, we probably each wrote a full book.
On Amazon, the author is listed as “Leah Rawls And Katherine Tuttle Walcott Atkins” – one person. I’d seen this before, obviously. Since I planned to blog about the book, I thought it would be cool to link to an author page. When I called about correcting the entry, Amazon was useless. The person who created it has to make the change. I have no idea how the page showed up. I didn’t do it. Miss Leah would have added it to her own Amazon page. I am not interested enough to contact her about straightening it out, see above. Even revisiting the experience for the duration of this post has traumatized me all over again.
A project that continues to spread joy long after the completion date.
Thank you for reading,