Horses, Life, A Touch of Geek

Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

Writing Life: My Book

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

Positives
+ 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.

Negatives
– 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.

Note
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,
Katherine Walcott

Writing Life: What Next? Advice Sought.

I want to write a book. Who doesn’t? Most book-writers-to-be appear to have an idea of what they want to write but lack the time. Me, I got time. What I don’t got is any idea what to write.

What do I want? I want to be sitting in the audience when my Hugo-winning science fiction novel is the basis for the Best Movie Oscar, and then win the National Book Award for my non-fiction account of my book being made into a movie.

But seriously folks, I want a project. I want a world to get lost in. Sure, books offer this. But then I’m done and have to find a new one. I’ve gotten picky. I spend longer hunting for new books to read than I do reading them. I want to write characters who take over the plot, for example Temporarily Significant: Spontaneous Character Creation, Or why sometimes your characters know more than you do.

So, I’m looking for advice. From what you’ve read of me in the blog, or know of me IRL, or both, any suggestions?

TLDR – that’s the gist. Below are thoughts on different genres.

Non-fiction – Journalism. Not books or articles that involve interviews and deadlines and contracts. I know how to do that. Whether or not I would be successful at selling a book idea is a different question, but I would know where to start.

Non-fiction – memoir. Love these. Read them all the time: Bill Bryson hikes the Appalachian Trail, A Walk in the Woods; Ken Jennings won 74 Jeopardy! games, Brainiac: Adventures in the Curious, Competitive, Compulsive World of Trivia Buffs; and Stefan Fatsis played competitive Scrabble, Word Freak: Heartbreak, Triumph, Genius, and Obsession in the World of Competitive SCRABBLE Players. Unfortunately, I have not done anything newsworthy. Each of us is special in our own way, yadda, yadda. What I mean is that I have not done anything that would be an automatic marketing hook. Yes, people write books about the minutiae of daily life. However, the closer the activity is to the norm, the more the book relies on the writing. I have all the style of a window pane. I like to think of my writing as straightforward. An English professor called it pedestrian. Perhaps I could identify a quest that could be done at home, as A.J. Jacobs did when he read the encyclopedia, The Know-It-All.

Blog. Printing out the posts and driving a staple thru the corner might make a book-length piece of text, but would not constitute a book. There hasn’t been sufficient narrative arc. I could rework various events as self-contained essays and then publish the collection, but a) none come to mind and b) see above re style. I don’t see myself making an amusing tale out of loading a horse, such as The $700 Pony Goes To the Vet. Maybe I should try.

Food Blog. Greg cooks. I write. There should be something there. Greg says no. He says food blogging is all about recipes. I am not.

Research – history. Take one idea & run with it. History of Hell by Alice Turner. Color by Victoria Finlay. Possible. I’d have to find an idea that is sufficiently intriguing but hadn’t already been done.

Research – fiction. Fictionalization of an historic event. Relies heavily on characterization. Not my forte.

Fiction – horses. I don’t really read horse fiction [Horseback Reads]. They say you should write what you read. While my lettering this year is horse books [AlphaBooks 2017], most are memoir, or books I read as a kid, So far [O’Connor], the only adult fiction as been Cooper, Francis, & McKinley.

Fiction – literature. Pffffft. Next. I put down a book if the cover copy describes it as “lyrical.”

Fiction – science fiction & fantasy. It’s what I read. At least, the strand that is clever, funny, & intellectually-engaging without relying on messy emotions. Asimov over Bradbury. I love the idea of world building, either from whole cloth, e.g. Pratchett, or taking the real world as a stage for the absurd, e.g. Adams, or for the fantastic, e.g.The Chronicle of St. Mary’s by Jodi Taylor.

(Caveat. Both Pratchett and Taylor succumb to an incurable case of morality. I gave up on Discworld toward the end and on St Mary’s about halfway through. Love them till then. I understand an author wanting to expand and grow. I don’t have to like it. But I digress.)

Graphic Novel. Would. Love. This. I read more comics than books as a kid. Unfortunately, I have zero artistic talent. This is not an insurmountable obstacle. James Hatton uses dots to draw In His Likeness. Letters? Or I could work with an artist. You now what they say about collaborators? You should work with someone at least 500 miles away. Then, once you have loaded the flamethrower and guns in the trunk and plan to drive over to burn their house down and shoot them when they run out, you will have time to change your mind.

??? A compilation of spoken word poetry? A revolutionary blend of online, print, and LEGO bricks? An epistolary novel in Tweets?

Whatcha got for me? No idea too bizarre. Robo-giraffe porn might end up being the secret shame of my protagonist in that Hugo-winning novel.

Thank you for reading & commenting,
Katherine Walcott

USDF Interview: Laura Romfh, Apparel Designer

“Behind The Scenes: Laura Romfh, Apparel Designer”
USDF Connection
July/ August 2017
United States Dressage Federation

A short interview with a woman who creates equestrian clothing.

©2017 United States Dressage Federation. Used by permission. Reproduction prohibited without prior written permission of the publisher.

Previous Posts [Behind The Scenes]

Thank you for reading,
Katherine Walcott

USDF Interview: Jennifer Mellace, Magazine Editor

“Behind The Scenes: Jennifer Mellace, Magazine Editor”
USDF Connection
June 2017
United States Dressage Federation

A short interview with a magazine editor.

©2017 United States Dressage Federation. Used by permission. Reproduction prohibited without prior written permission of the publisher.

Previous Posts [Behind The Scenes]

Thank you for reading,
Katherine Walcott

Guest Post Invitation & Rules

Wanna write a guest post?

Recently, I have asked a few people if they would be interested in expounding a particular subject into a guest post. I hereby open the invite. Below is the result of my emails on the subject.

Content
Probably best if the subject is horses, or at least equine-adjacent. This is a wide umbrella and I’m comfortable shoving a lot of things under it.

Let’s agree on a subject before you start. If it’s something I can’t wedge in, I don’t want to waste your time.

Deadline
Up to you. I tend to run guest posts on Mondays. I read somewhere that was a high traffic day. Otherwise, whenever you get to it. The blog is daily & I have no plans on stopping any time soon.

Length
Also up to you. One on showing a model horse was over 1600 words [All Hail Augustus Invictus, A Guest Post]. One on book plates was about 1000 [Guest Post: Amy Kilkenny on Equine Bookplates].

We can always split it over several days. Short is okay too. It’s all about mixing in new ideas and different voices. (And yes, not having to do the typing myself.) If you’d like more examples, search “guest post” on the sidebar.

Important details
… hmm … can’t think of any. It’s not a huge blog, so I can’t promise huge exposure, but I do have some nice people who read it. Similarly, I don’t pay, so it would have to be for giggles.

Style
Up to you. Formal essay. Avant garde stream of consciousness. Whatever. If you want to send me a draft, we can bounce it back and forth a few times, or you can send me the text and tell me No Word Shall Be Touched.

I’m not big on profanity, unless it’s done well. Usually it’s just laziness. I’m not big on negativity either. Back when I did book reviews, if I hated a book, I would pass over it rather than pan it. That said, there are many, many ways to get one’s point across without being mean.

I bet that’s no help at all.

Images
Your own or with photographer’s permission.

People
If you mention other people, get their okay first. People can be weird.

For Authors
Very interested in helping promote your book, particularly if you would care to share a behind the scenes look at the writing thereof [Amber Heintzberger, co-author of Modern Eventing, on Babies & Books].

Right of Refusal
You will have total control over the text. I won’t make any changes without discussion. OTOH, I reserve the right to nix the whole idea if – for whatever bizarre reason – we can’t come to an agreement. As do you. Standard practice.

Whatcha got?

Thank you for reading,
Katherine Walcott

USDF Interview: Beth Beukema, Intercollegiate Dressage Association

“Behind The Scenes: Beth Beukema, Intercollegiate Dressage Association”
USDF Connection
May 2017
United States Dressage Federation

 

A short interview with the IDA president.

©2017 United States Dressage Federation. Used by permission. Reproduction prohibited without prior written permission of the publisher.

Previous Posts [Behind The Scenes]

Thank you for reading,
Katherine Walcott

USDF Interview: Willy Arts, Trainer, Breeder, and Breed Official

“Behind The Scenes: Willy Arts, Trainer, Breeder, and Breed Official”
USDF Connection
April 2017
United States Dressage Federation

 

A short interview with a breed association board member.

©2017 United States Dressage Federation. Used by permission. Reproduction prohibited without prior written permission of the publisher.

Previous Posts [Behind The Scenes]

Also by me in the same issue, “Amateur Hour: Top Guns”. A profile of 2016 Dover Medal winner Ruth Shirkey.

Thank you for reading,
Katherine Walcott