Sunday, April 17, 2005
Most of the articles I've written for this company have been about boating, camping, canoeing and kayaking, and boat and house maintenance. Since they let the writer pick the topic, I usually write about something I already know enough about so that no research is required.
Sunday, April 10, 2005
While underway on the trip, many people I met in passing asked if I was going to write a book about my journey and I usually said I probably would. I kept a detailed daily journal and sent segments of it to my friend Ernest Herndon on a regular basis, so he could write a series of articles about the trip for the McComb Enterprise-Journal, where he worked full time as a reporter. He liked the journal entries and encouraged me to write. I was later contacted by the editor of Sea Kayaker magazine, who requested a narrative-style article about the trip. This was published and I became excited about writing for a while and wrote several more articles for Sea Kayaker and in the meantime put together my book about the kayak trip, which I then titled: From Black Creek to the Bitter End: A Kayak Journey to the Caribbean. I polished the manuscript as best I could at the time through 2-3 drafts and sent query letters to a few big mainstream publishers of narrative nonfiction. Although a couple of editors expressed sincere interest, nothing happened at the time and I put the project aside as I continued traveling and started spending most of my spare time building boats.
My interest in book writing was renewed when Ernest Herndon got a contract from University Press of Mississippi for Canoeing Mississippi, his guidebook to the streams of our home state. He suggested I propose a similar guidebook for the state's coastal waters, which I did in early 2001, and this eventually became my first book: Exploring Coastal Mississippi: A Guide to the Marine Waters and Islands, released in April, 2004. Shortly after I finished the final draft of that book in 2003, my girlfriend, Michelle, encourage me to submit a proposal to my editor for my narrative of the big kayak trip. I wasn't so sure that a university press would be interested in such a book, but they were and I soon had a contract and began a rewrite from my earlier drafts written around 1992-93. Few changes were made in the content, and most of it is straight from my journals, but hopefully the more interesting aspects of the trip have been brought out while the boring and mundane parts were omitted. This is certainly the type of book that could be written in many ways, and it was a long enough trip that covering every detail would result in far more than the 254 pages the final book contains. I owe a lot to Johnny Molloy, the outdoor author University Press of Mississippi chose as an outside reader for his comments and suggestions regarding the book, and to Craig Gill and others at the press for their thoughts on the title that resulted in the present one.
There are many deserving people who helped make this trip possible who I plan to give a copy of the book to, and unfortunately there are many more I met in the islands but have no way of contacting and will likely never see again who I would also like to send a copy to. Maybe some of them will find it somewhere on a bookstore shelf and remember the reckless 25-year-old from Mississippi paddling the turquoise and white sea kayak and camping on the beach.