Saturday, March 21, 2015

Rambling: To book or not to book?

Whenever I post, I think, "I posted! I'm back in the groove! I'll post every day now!"

Not so much.

But here I am again, forcing myself to type something.

I've had a book idea, a nonfiction book idea. This is a good thing, because while I love having written fiction, I don't love writing fiction. And that doesn't seem to be getting better. I love writing nonfiction.

However, I find myself operating under the assumption that you have to have some sort of fancy schmancy expertise, directly relevant credentials, to write a nonfiction book. That is, to get it published. Is that true? I've been checking nonfiction books to see if it seems to be true.

For example, I just picked up Cool: How Air Conditioning Changed Everything, by Salvatore Basile. I haven't started reading it yet, so I can't tell you how it is, though it easily passed the page-through-and-read-some-paragraphs test. According to the bio whatsit on the book jacket, Salvatore Basile is a professional musician, "educated at the Boston Conservatory and The Juillard School." Those are certainly fancy, but they don't have much to do with air conditioning, or technology history. Now, when I check his website, it tells me that his first book was about music, which is an area where he has fancy expertise. So I'm not quite sure what to conclude.

I recently finished My Age of Anxiety, by Scott Stossel. It's about anxiety, and the history of anxiety and treatments and how people feel about it, and relates most of that to his life and his experiences, sort of back and forth and back and forth. It's good, by the way--I recommend it. Scott Stossel doesn't have fancy academic/medical credentials, but he has thoroughly fancy writing credentials--he's the editor (rather than "an" editor) of The Atlantic.

And I just started How to Be a Heroine by Samantha Ellis, about literary heroines, similarly relating the material to herself, back and forth, back and forth. (Also good.) She's a playwright and has some fancy-sounding writing credentials.

I've previously mentioned The Lost Art of Dress, by Linda Przybyszewski. Her website mentions all sorts of things and publications--about dress, vintage dress, law, and so on. There's also a picture of someone, I hope her, with a straw hat with cherries on it. I like that. She has a whole lot of fancy credentials; if I want evidence of people who don't, she's not the data point I'm looking for. But she does have a blog. It looks pretty cool.

So do I try to write the book? It would likely be historical and current information on my topic, a topic on which I have no credentials fancy or otherwise, always relating to me, back and forth, back and forth. You notice I'm not mentioning the topic. I'm still in that phase (did I say this somewhere in my last post?) where I have the illusion that the mere idea, alone, has value, and that if I reveal the idea I may as well forget it because someone smarter than me will leap on it. Once I get a look at how much work it will be to implement the idea, and how many different ways it could be implemented, I'll probably be perfectly happy to describe it.

That is all. But I'll post again any minute now.

Or at least in less than thirty days.


  1. write the book, write the book! We're all making this up anyway, might as well write a book. Then you'll have the fancy schmancy credentials too!

  2. What Cynthia said! The fact that the air con man was a musician may have worked amusingly in his favour, even. Oh look - he is a 'con man'. No, write the book I say too...

    The anxiety book sounds good, but I am getting increasingly anxious about the huge pile of unread books I seem to be accumulating - you know, tsundoku-stylee.

  3. Yo, Cynthia! Hmm, this is true. And I'm not going to be getting a changed career or a new degree any time soon, so I may as well get moving without the credentials.

    Howdy, Vanessa! I suppose the primarily-musical credentials could have reassured the publisher that the book wouldn't veer off into an excess of science of engineering.

    Yes; I think I'm in the middle of more than a dozen books.