Twenty years ago I set out to write the Arthur-can-write-like Louie L ‘Amor western with gunfights, brawls and all that goes with it.
Didn’t turn out that way.
Louie L’Amour’s muse wasn’t splitting time between Louie and me.
As I’ve heard from others, when a writer really gets into his work, his characters seem to step in, take over and at times even change the total nature of the writing.
What was born was entirely within my own life experience and perception.
I wrote and sent this manuscript to a New York literary agent I’d listened on Larry King’s old all-night radio talk show while delivering the USA Today into boxes all over Vancouver.
The agent told me to forget it. There wasn’t a market sufficient for religious literary fiction. So I forgot it and missed my opportunity to step in front of the Left Behind writers ten years before they created their stuff.
This novel is self-published which is the point of the diary. This is how I decided to publish in the end as I was originally turned down by the agent. It was pretty simple, although there were some concerns of pricing. All I had to do was research ‘how much does it cost to self publish a book‘ and I was presently surprised. So here we are now, I did it all on my own. As one or two advertisments out there point out, vanity publishing is now possible on a scale equal to individual resources.
Normal shipping is 3-5 days after order unless there’s a holiday going on. Also – as we did – the account holder/author can buy copies at cost from the printer (that is, minus the markup).
Books are printed on demand and authors don’t have to buy their books in lots of 100 or more in order to facilitate distribution.
My writing here came about because my wife, Lietta, wanted a printed version for our home and I looked into it.
The result is what you see here. Possibilities suggest themselves, shorter tracts, booklets, brochures, collections of essays, how-to manuals, and other stuff.
Yeah, check out my novel which has not been re-written, modernized nor edited from its original 1986 form when I was still trying to figure out the “he said”, “she reponded,” “they shouted” dialogue narrations
– not to mention avoiding too much head thoughts and not enough description via action.
But then, Mailer, Vidal, even Louis L’Amour are not in danger from the likes of me.
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“Rose Blake and her family in England are trapped in circumstances and events that are destroying their lives.
Jacob Hannah is a violent man called to a preaching ministry by Brigham Young in an effort to save his soul.
Based on an actual historical event, And Should We Die is human nature at it’s best and worst, a struggle to survive against an unforgiving mother nature. And Should We Die is ultimately a love story from out of the history of the American West.”
And Should We Die was drafted and written as my first attempt at a novel. The writing was finished over a period of time from October, 1986 to early 1987. As a novel the writing was submitted and returned by two literary agents as not-marketable as written.
I made several attempts at a re-write but each time came very quickly to an inability to change anything with any kind of enthusiastic creativity; a circumstance I attributed to mental burn out with the novel itself.
Now I view it differently. The writing is a novel but more than that a reflection of what has been inside the writer. The final drafts and an assortment of redrafted parts are in my possession. The original first draft, after subsequent drafts were written, was relegated to use by myself and family as scratch paper.
In retrospect, that original writing may very well contain the purity of expression before editing and perhaps a bit more of the essence of what was in my mind. However, the original process of editing was merely a polishing of the rough draft in the first place and a case could be made that such polishing further refined and made accurate the precise messages coming from within.
This is the value of And Should We Die. It is my equivalent of “survivor art”, if you will, where someone in a therapeutic context attempts to portray in pictures what exists and is felt inside. This is very personal writing from within. It expresses feelings, beliefs, attitudes and other emotions that were no longer willing to be bottled up and which, as a result, pushed out into a written expression in 1986.
However, for a long time there was no one to read and comprehend. As the source of the writing, I myself saw it only as an attempt to write marketable historical fiction; an attempt that accomplished nothing more than to reveal to me an aptitude for writing. However, I had only a superficial understanding that what came out on paper was very revealing of personal inner thinking. Although I was very proud of and devoted to the writing, I saw it only as an attempt that had failed.
Although I attempted once or twice to read it to the family, I myself did not sustain that effort. There seemed to be no one else who could or would take the time to read it and the drafts lay in boxes in my home for 12 years. On two occasions in the past five years I’ve attempted to read parts to my wife, Lietta, and each time I was brought to tears by what I read.
I did not understand at those times why such would be the case except for the fact that the writing represented a time when I worked like hell to give birth, if you will, to something restless within me. People use the phrase of “having a novel in here that needs to be written,” and this for me was a blood-sweat-and-tears effort that defined part of a writer’s task.
However, recently, while on vacation, my wife invited me to read the novel to her from the start. I no sooner started to read than found myself again in tears. But this time I saw something quite disturbingly clear. This writing was created for my eyes in particular and it contained images that suddenly sprang into view much like commercial pictures that contain smaller hidden pictures.
The more I read the more frequently I was moved to tears until it became obvious that 12 years ago, I had subconsciously put in words much of what I was unable to say out loud. The act of reading these words aloud to another person somehow served a therapeutic purpose that elicited responses way beyond being involved in reading fiction.
The writing is multi-layered. The characters all speak, obviously, from within my perceptual source. The characters are, as any writer will tell you, extensions of myself more than they are creations modeled on someone else. The characters reflect different points of my own view and, being multi-layered, there are many levels of perception.
I read this novel with very strong emotions and, twelve years after it was written, I acknowledge that it represents the essence of how I see myself in terms of ancestry, culture and background. For me it is an anthem to who I am and the kind of courageous people from whom I am descended.
In transcribing this writing from the paper copy which was done with a typewriter I have made a few corrections of grammar, spelling and syntax for clarity purposes (to the degree I am able to do good proof-reading). I would not add to, delete or change anything in this material, as it comes directly from my inner world and reflects too much to try to change it after the fact.
A.C.R., South Bend Washington, October, 1999