Category Archives: Uncategorized
This week my editor gave me an official response to the manuscript, which was better than I ever anticipated. With no major changes requested, we have moved on to securing rights for photos and quotes in the book. With wideranging sources, this is a tedious and time consuming task that is now going full speed.
However, I am finding the whole process of book publication quite fascinating. And while I am growing tired of scanning the 300+ pages of the manuscript to make sure I secure rights for quotes used…I am encouraged by a discussion going on about me writing a second book. Of course, that will have to be material for another blog–or info for my webpage once I get that fired up.
As of today you can view the entire documentary John Kennedy Toole: The Omega Point at the following website:
Just follow the directions at the top and voila!
The filmmaker, Joe Sanford, has a longer version in the works and would appreciate any feedback you have to offer.
Of course, I will forward him any comments posted here related to the film. Hope you enjoy!
I emerge from my cave to say….
The finished manuscript is set for nearly 95,000 words. Out of interest I tallied up the words I have so far in the “finished chapters” and I was at 70,000. I can’t say they are all golden words, but it is 70,000 words of edited language that I consider good. I have volumes of discarded language–no reason to count that.
I wish I could say it has been one flash of genius after another. But like most writers in a project of this size I go through moments of great exhiliration, feeling that I am writing something original and worthwhile. At times I feel like I am reading the book that I wanted to read when I was searching for a good biography of Toole four years ago. And then at other times I doubt and question every choice I make. Why did I use that image? Am I going to far in my interpretation? Should I restrain myself or should I give more?
But with over 2/3 of the book more or less ready to be submitted, I at least have some sense that this project is survivable.
Ah–I have breathed the fresh air too long. Back to my cave…
I will be reading from the manuscript for Butterfly in the Typewriter and screening the documentary film, John Kennedy Toole: The Omega Point at Germanna Community College–Fredericksburg Area Campus at 7 pm this Thursday evening, February 17th. There will be a question and answer period following the event where I will answer questions on the process of securing a literary agent and getting a book deal. Please come!
Toole was born this day in 1937 in New Orleans. His mother called him her “Beauteous Babe.”
I have spent the day thinking about Toole’s time in New York City. Thanks to my May trip to Columbia and having the opportunity to see the dorm room in which he lived in 1958, I was able to identify some of the old photographs in the Toole Papers at Tulane.
It has been a good day, pondering a time when he had the world in front of him–nothing but opportunity, potential and talent.
Cheers to you Ken!
I am making steady progress. I finished two more chapters this month. I focused on Toole’s days at Tulane and his first year at Columbia. I am quite excited about the Tulane chapter, wherein, I think I have contributed insight into his intellectual foundations as a writer and a satirist.
I am two steps closer to portraying him as the complex individual that he was–as opposed to a caricature of a suicidal artist. Of course, I will need to make some corrections and additions as I have several more intereviews lined up that will probably give me some quality material for those chapters.
Today I begin on the chapter focused on his year in Cajun country. This is when he met his primary inspiration for Ignatius Reilly and two of his truest friends, Patricia Rickels and Joel Fletcher. I need to hammer out two more chapters before the first of the year to say on schedule for my July deadline. So far, with much dedication, all goes well.
Over Thanksgiving, as there was much chatter about the book deal, one of my cousins asked me about the writing process. How do you go about writing a book, he asked. Of course I had to clarify if he meant the whole business part of securing an agent, then a publisher, coming up with a marketing platform and so on, or if he meant the actual writing of the book. He meant the actual writing part.
Indeed, it seems everyone has a great idea for a book, but it’s just that damn writing part that is so difficult to get around. Well, I am in the midst of writing my first book, so I am no expert. But I can say for myself that writing rarely involves some mystical moment where inspiration wells from my inner soul and on to the paper—or in this case the laptop screen.
As far as I can tell, there is no secret to writing. You just have to write, edit and rewrite, over and over again, until you get it the way you want it. Of course, there are those virtuosos that crank out pages of brilliance in minutes, but they are rare. And I assure you, for the most part, the thousands of writers out there right now hacking away at their keyboards are not tapped into some great spirit of composition.
I like the Philip Roth approach. I write and rewrite every day. It is hard. It takes time. But eventually you figure out what you want to say and the perfect way to say it. And for many writers that achievement gives greater satisfaction than publication, as it should.
We are getting closer to a deal. Hopefully there will be good news to report soon.
In the meantime I have made contact with many people that graduated with Toole from Columbia in 1959. It is amazing to see how one class of graduates can go in so many different directions. They have helped me construct a picture of Columbia from 1958-1969. As I write this chapter, I am coming to realize the importance of New York in this story.
The documentary on Toole has been accepted to the New Orleans Film Festival. Congratulations to Joe Sanford! I will be attending. It will be a chance to hang out with Joe, someone who has become a close friend in this endeavor. Hopefully Joel Fletcher will be joining us as well. He has talked about doing a Toole walk through the French Quarter for years. Perhaps this will be the year!
While in New Orleans, I will be doing more research. I received a call from the owner of the Toole House, the last place Toole lived before he went on his final journey. The owner of the home has invited me to come visit the house. It will be quite interesting to walk Toole’s last steps as he departed from his mother’s home and his beloved city.