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This morning I went for a walk in the forest to calm my mind, and then was back in my small apartment, sitting and breathing and sipping tea, when my cell phone rang. Usually when the cell phone rings it's some crisis at work. But this time it was Bob Sehlinger, an old time Southern boater and publisher too. He explained to me that he was very impressed with my book (Riverese) but that it was too serious and they didn't have a market for it and weren't going to publish it. He was willing to do a much reduced "cute" and "funny" version of it, chock full of Nealy cartoons, and that might happen in the future, but today I only felt lukewarm about that option. My book is academic because I am academic. If you take your favorite 100 definitions (out of 2,500) from the lexicon, and put cute illustrations with it, and change the definitions to be funny instead of factual, it isn't my book at all anymore.

But Bob had a proposition for me that was more interesting than I had anticipated. He needs someone to write a book on river rescue for his publishing house. He has almost had others to write the book for him, but to date has not put together a book that he likes. He liked my writing style and respected my credentials enough to mention it to me, and ask me to "noodle" it over. I'm noodling. He's even willing to throw down to buy me a library of all the existing books on river rescue, so that I can be sure I've covered the important stuff and added something new.

I know what I would add. I would emphasize risk assessment and accident prevention at a new level. Bob wasn't psyched about that, but what is the point of telling people how to get a dead body unstuck from the bottom of the river, when you could have told them how to not get that body stuck there and dead in the first place?

It's a bit of a shame in my view that this offer came at this time. I'm about to be very busy for four years. I don't know if I would be able to complete this work to the level that I expect of myself in the alotted time. He said that he'd expect to have a book completed within 18 months of the signing of the contract. I will have next summer free. Would it be worth it? Would I be able to create a book on river rescue that does justice to all previous knowledge, and yet is creative and insightful and useful? A book that would save lives? I an noodling this idea hard.

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( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
liveonearth
May. 19th, 2007 05:17 am (UTC)
Re: Wow!
I am developing an idea of how I'd like to approach the subject, and I have a feeling that Bob won't like it. I want to devote most of the book to prevention. He wants a new treatise on the Z drag. We shall see.....at the moment I'm warm but not hot on the idea. I may revisit the offer next spring. I've been hearing about how hard this particular publisher is to work with. I just have the faintest notion why. They are risk averse, want formulaic shit that will sell based on what has sold before. I'm not impressed.
bodacia
May. 19th, 2007 06:41 pm (UTC)
Hey, congratulations! Even if you decide not to take on this project and just concentrate on school...how very cool that it was offered to you. Not everyone has book publishers knocking on their door. You GO! :)
liveonearth
May. 19th, 2007 11:30 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Bo. I had to knock a whole lot of times before I got a knock back. But it is satisfying to at least be recognized.
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