was about twenty years ago when I decided that
I was going to write a book. I’d toyed
with the idea for maybe ten years before that.
I knew that I didn’t have the credentials
to write non-fiction but those kinds of projects
looked boring anyway. I had spent a lifetime
reading mysteries and they were what I knew
best. Besides, they were my favorites.
was reading a newspaper one day and was drawn
to an article by a picture of an old man, hands
raised in a boxing stance. It was a short article,
maybe three or four paragraphs. The man, ninety
three at the time was helping out in his grandson’s
store when two armed robbers walked in and demanded
cash. The old man disarmed both of them and
beat them unconscious with his fists, then called
the police. Seems the old guy had been the heavyweight
champion of Canada at one time and had never
stopped working out. Then about five years later
that same photo caught my eye again only this
time it was the man’s obituary. As soon
as I looked at the picture, I remembered every
word of the earlier story. That’s when
it hit me… if your story’s strong
enough, it will make a lasting impression.
I set about writing an epic for the ages. I
was unencumbered by the challenges of success
because I knew absolutely nothing about the
literary world with all of its rules and customs.
I forged ahead with pencils and legal pads until
I had about ten thousand words and decided that
I was writing pure dreck. I threw my project
in the bottom drawer of a desk and it remained
there, undisturbed for at least six months.
I finally dragged it out and read it through,
I realized that it wasn’t as bad as I
thought. So I began writing again. When I reached
the twenty thousand word plateau I once again
became frustrated and it went back to the bottom
time later I bought my first computer. It was
probably just to help justify the expense of
my new electronic toy but I once again resurrected
the old manuscript and laboriously transferred
it into my word processing program one letter
at a time. The more familiar I got with the
computer, the more I looked forward to the task.
I began editing as I went and soon I was over
forty thousand words. It was then that I realized
that I had no idea how the story was going to
end. Finally I had the incentive required to
finish it. It became… The Unreal McCoy.
formal training consisted of one community college
semester of creative writing where we spent
the entire semester studying Aldous Huxley’s
Brave New World. I’m convinced that, if
you have a basic grasp of the language and a
good story in your head, all you’ve got
to do is write it down. Grammar and punctuation
can be fixed. Don’t be intimidated. Write!