The New 3 “Rs” – Readin’, ‘Ritin’ and Rewritin’


As a writer, I’m a pretty good photographer. Conversely, as a photographer, I probably needed to go back to school, maybe even pre-school. I have always played well with others, but I didn’t like sharing. (Sorry for the digression.)

Put a camera in my hands and I’m pretty fearless. Not war photographer fearless, but once I did climb on a burning oil tanker to get the picture. But put a pen, in this case a computer, in front of me and expect me to write and, let’s just say it would have been a toss-up between that and a root canal with the dental delight in a slight lead.

Hmm, book query or root canal?. (

So, as “Arn? Narn.” took shape and form, it became apparent that it was going to require words, good words, not random words, words that complemented the photographs. If this book had been planned as an editorial endeavor by a publication, they would have assigned a writer to accompany me. But this was my idea. I was going to do it myself, not anyone else. (I told you I didn’t share well.)

A long time ago, I took a writing course which like most of my scholastic adventures left me cold. I couldn’t understand why one just couldn’t put the freaking words down and that would be OK. I was so young. (That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.) And for many years after, I had no desire or need to write anything longer than a check. Maybe that’s from where my love of fiction came.

Unless someone else had been there with me and had become as familiar with the subject as I had, then that writer could have done the job. But it was only me.

Before a book gets published, but after it’s finished, there is still much work to do. There was much I had to learn. It has to be seen by people who make these decisions and if you’re not well known, (I’m not), no one is really looking to hear from you. So how do they learn of you? It’s now all about you.

The first step is to create a book query. This is a singularly important letter that goes out to agents and publishers in the hopes they will see the cosmic brilliance of your creativity. In this, you write a one page document that explains why this is a worthy book. If you’re a writer, than you can probably handle it easily enough assuming you know what to say. Suppose you know what to say but not how to say it? Enter me.

Ego says the photographs should be enough. Reality says  “Hold on Bucko, not so fast.” So while all the photographs had been taken, nothing had been written. And you want me to write a letter of recommendation for myself? I’m tall, like small children, never been indicted, – that kind of stuff? No.

I’ve got to write the book query, And I do. Over and over. Again and again. In the morning and before bed. I polish, correct, rewrite, rewrite some more, add and subtract, and finally when I can do it no longer, this tortured document survives. And that’s only the start of the process.

You know, that root canal doesn’t seem like such a bad idea.

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