I was really quite proud of the progress made, then I realized the journey was being made on a treadmill. That, in a nutshell, sums up the feeling this past few days.
At every turn it seems there are enough loose strings to knit a couple of dozen sweaters. Addressing them means I loose time and fall behind. By not addressing them I will loose time when a major seam unravels.
http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=1968adventurer&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=0760338434&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifrWith the Route 66 encyclopedia and atlas project the issue of meeting the deadline, as well as editorial parameters of word count and illustrations is not a real concern. The worry is in regards to acquisition of material, what to include, and what will not be included if I don’t pursue a few loose strings to the very end.
Almost one hundred letters were sent to businesses on Route 66 requesting information. To date there has been only three responses. So, do I follow up with a phone call and intrude on the proprietors busy schedule or do I just go with the material obtained from their websites and promotional material?
I could call as a further introduction and request a face to face talk but that still takes from their schedule. Additionally, it means I won’t have some of the material until after the June trip to Amarillo and the October trip to Chicago. This train of thought has been chasing me down the rails for a couple of days now.
Compounding the dilemma is the need to layout a battle plan for the rest of the year that includes trying to land a new contract so there is no lag time between projects, formulating a rough schedule for the trip to Amarillo in June that includes promotion of the new book, Ghost Towns of Route 66, and creating a framework for a similar trip from Chicago to http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=1968adventurer&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=0760326894&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifrKingman in October. Somewhere in between are the mundane details of everyday life, such as the real job that supports the writing habit, and the near constant need to be alert for promotional opportunities.
For those hoping to become a published author there are a couple of very important things to consider. One, is that the research and actual writing of the book are the easy part.
Landing a contract, promoting the book and you as the author, is the real work. It is also the most challenging, the most enjoyable reward for the labor, and the aspect that most resembles a treadmill.
As soon as you land a contract and begin work on the book, it is time to begin thinking of promotional opportunities for it. At the same time you must also begin laying out the next project or you will loose momentum and the treadmill will slowly erase your forward progress.
Now, if you do land another contract, and there is no lag time between projects, you will be deep into the new one when the push will begin for final edits and layout on the previous one. And so the juggling intensifies.
If your really fortunate, as I have been, you can write books that dove tail in regards to research and promotion. As an example, in writing Backroads of Arizona, my research provided material for Route 66 Backroads, Ghost Towns of the Southwesthttp://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=1968adventurer&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=0760332215&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifr, Greetings from Route 66, Ghost Towns of Route 66, and the Route 66 Encyclopedia and Atlas. Promotion of each book has, and will, also fit this pattern. I can promote the Arizona book on AM Arizona and the discussion will turn to ghost towns, which allows me to plug both ghost town books, which in turn provides an opportunity to talk about the Route 66 books.
At some point, in my overly optimistic and possibly naive way of thinking, the scales will tip in my favor and the writing will be the job that supports the writing habit. In the mean time there is a need to at least keep pace with the treadmill, while juggling a half dozen balls.
To that end I pitched three new ideas to the publisher this morning. As it can take almost a year to frame something saleable and get the all important contract, this is a priority if I am to avoid down time between projects.
The first proposal for a history and travel guide for US 6, the forgotten cousin to US 66. This amazing highway was the longest stretching from Cape Cod in Massachusetts to Long Beach in California. It was also the highest crossing the Colorado Rockies at Loveland Pass and the last to be fully paved with a section in the deserts of Utah remaining unpaved until the early 1950s.
The second project is something I have wanted to do for a number of years, write a travel guide for Mohave County in Arizona. At 13,470 miles, plus an additional 158 square miles of water, it is larger than some states or countries.
It is an incredibly diverse landscape that includes three Indian reservations, two national monuments, the longest uninterrupted section of Route 66, a national forest, two wildlife refuges, and part of a national park. There are peaks dusted with snow for most of the year and dry lake beds at sea level.
One of the more interesting aspects is in regards to the northern third of the county known locally as the strip. From the county seat in Kingman it is impossible to reach this area by land without first driving through Nevada or Utah.
The third project is something I want to keep under my hat for a bit longer. Most anyone who reads this blog, or that knows me understands I am a bit of an eccentric but it might be best if they didn’t realize just how deep that streak of eccentricity runs. So, I will wait to see if the publisher tells me to stay out of the sun and see a doctor, or if he wants to discuss it further.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I suppose I had best figure out which loose ends to tie up and which ones to ignore. It might also be a good idea to keep the underwear clean in case the ignored threads result in an embarrassing loss of a seam or two.

If you enjoy Jim Hinckley\'s America, take a second to support jimhinckleysamerica on Patreon!
Become a patron at Patreon!