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Book test proposal

Last night I let the blog go unwritten, because I wanted to take a day off to think about where the blog is going and where my book project is going. Frankly, the book has been going nowhere. I have now written at least five completely separate drafts ranging from 3 pages to 83 pages, and abandoned each one.

With a sunny day to think about it and no other writing to do, I have come to realize that my block stems from the enormity of the trip. The task's size does not daunt me -- I am used to writing tomes of up to three hundred pages, and my output just on this blog amounts to about 20,000 words a month (roughly the amount of text in an issue of Airstream Life). But the trip is different. It defies summarization, definition, and explanation. When I grab a hold of one piece, the rest seems to slip out of control like a greased balloon.

So my book drafts have been readable but annoying. One started to read like a "how to" guide to RV'ing. We don't need that. There are plenty of guides already out there (although I will say that many of them are terrible). Another draft followed the "People's Guide" travel book format, and did work at some level, but it wasn't what I wanted to produce. I may resurrect that one later. A third draft attempted to tell our story chronologically and even I was fantastically bored with it by the tenth page. And then there were the various half-attempts, amounting to three or four pages of desperate writing in search of a point.

Since I will soon have to get into some heavy writing and editing for the Winter 2008 issue of Airstream Life (coming out in November), I wanted to at least have a stub of a book worked out this month. That way I won't have to obsess about it when I should be working on the magazine.

My approach today is code-named "Seamonster". I have taken to naming the drafts based on what inspired the approach. This one got kicked off by a collection of essays by Paul Theroux called "Sunrise with Seamonsters". Theroux is a writer who simultaneously makes me stupified by his incredible skill, and sigh with envy. Just one of his opening sentences is better than any ten paragraphs I've ever written. I am like Antonio Salieri to Amadeus Mozart, good enough to recognize a true genius when I see one, but not good enough to ever play his music. Perhaps with another ten years of practice I'll get better.

In any case, I want to recruit you, blog reader, to review a few pages of the current draft. The format of "Seamonster" will be a series of essays, each designed to stand alone but gradually build on each other to form a fairly complete picture of our two years of travel. The first essay will be an introduction, and if the format works I'll continue to write additional essays -- based in a large part on this blog -- to eventually reach perhaps 25-40 essays and enough to fill a decent-sized book. (Then I'll ask you to buy a copy, but let's worry about that later.)

So starting tomorrow, I will be posting excerpts from the introductory essay here on the blog. Given that each blog entry is about 800 words, it will take several days to post an entire essay. Bear with me during this, and do feel free to send your comments and suggestions. I'm interested in whether you think the format works, whether you'd buy or recommend a book containing such essays, and what topics you'd like to see discussed.

If you have nice things to say, post them here as Comments. If you have negative things to say, write them on the back of a $20 bill and mail them to my PO Box. That will sweeten the blow.

Charlotte tent morning.jpg
Bonus shot: morning view from the tent

Of course I'll still continue to post pictures and events from this week in addition to the Seamonster tests, so if you aren't interested in being an Editor-for-a-Day there will be Tour of America stuff to read too. Thanks for your help!


I'm disappointed.

You have the idea right in front of you.

You don't see it?

Your blog as a book. Take your blog, download and flesh out the areas. You have a section on scams, trailer saftey, moving, downsizing, hitting the road, eating well, venting the rig after eating mexican... you get the point.

A section on how I implemented the four hour work week.

Adult themes, how to fool around when your kid is within 12 feet. (scream into the pillow).

Road maps, day trips, long trips.

You have all the material you need, you need to organize it.

have you ever watched two fat ladies? it's a cooking show about themselves cooking (and drinking). How about this these titles:

"Three thin folk"

The TravelWell

"Urban Survial Guide to Living Well on The Road"


Doug ;)

I like your idea of writing the book as essays. I think one of the things missing from most all accounts of fulltiming is the emotional aspect of the lifestyle, and I think that there is a lot to be said.Everyone talks about how to do this that or the other thing but I don't hear to many accounts of how, on a day to day basis, does one feel about living what is becoming more acceptable but is still an unconventional lifestyle.

Hey! You and Emma were spying on us from your tent! Thanks for the great write-up and pics, and a special thanks to Emma for the hula lessons. Tell her we've been practicing!

PS: I look forward to reading your essays! Although - I also agree with Doug on the blog thing. You have TONS of great material to work with already!

Karen & Ken

Looking forward to reading the essays. :-D)

I agree with the other posters... work with your blog as a starting point.

Scream into the pillow, huh. Guess we'll have to try that one!

I think the essays are the way to go. If I might be so bold as to make two suggestions for you to read? I love suggesting books the way some people love matchmaking.

The first is Education of a Wandering Man by Louis L'Amour. It's ....well, the title pretty much covers it. It is his personal story about how came to be a writer.

The second is Ray Bradbury's Dandelion Wine. This is a series of essays LOOSELY connected via a 12 year old boy and the way he spends the summer of 1928. But after one finishes reading the book and lets it digest for a few days, you are struck by the prfound and deep story that you have been left with.

Look forward to reading it!

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