and so it begins.

Deep breath time, exhale, and find the reserves you didn’t know existed.

Eighteen months after I started doing actual reporting for this book, I had a long talk with my editor at Cal last night, and came up with a tentative plan — one that gets her a draft of a first chapter by October 1 or thereabouts. Not the introduction, where I will blather about my ground rules, and not the prologue, but a full-fledged chapter, beginning with the aforementioned moment in 1781.

A chapter like that is about 8.000 words. All properly sourced and grounded, revised to make it feel not like a novel but like stepping into events. This in addition to my obligations to Chelsea Now (where I’ve sworn: no new big stories, ha!). All while, at the moment, shaping begging letters — excuse me, grant letters — to the discretionary funds of any foundation that might help this project end well.

I do not have the luxury of time that some of my role models had, time to spend three years on a dissertation and THEN two years making it sing (yes, Mr. Moser, yes, Mr. Joseph, I mean you). But by June 30, 2008, all these important and compelling stories, from William Bowser to Ricky Clousing, have to coalesce into a document that speaks to people. Which means, given my penchant for unglamorous first drafts, I have to get serious.

Thus the title of this post, its words to be pronounced in a deep voice, as close as possible to that of the late great Andreas Katsulis. Though at least I’m not fearing that if I screw up, something that looks like this will get me.

Or maybe I am. Only Carl Jung knows, apparently.


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