Bachin' it for a week - Beside the Point


It's been an interesting past several days.

The wife went to Nawlins with the daughter for about six days for a jazz festival.

In that time I've written a bunch of things, filled out some grants and actually put some thoughts together for a book that I'm tinkering with.

I've always thought that I could write a book, but that would require dedication, time and a full mental lockdown.

I've never had that kind of conviction really. To just lock it all down, seclude myself, drink tea and eat turkey and cheese sandwiches until the damned thing was done.

I'm not sure that's really what it takes anymore. Actually, I'm not sure you can even just write a book anymore. Most books now are self-published and most publishers don't take solicitations. If you don't know them, or more importantly they don't know you, they just ain't buyin'.

But that shouldn't stop anyone who has the creativity and ambition to try and capture the imagination of a reader for a week or so.

I've never really gotten down to picking fiction or non-fiction. I think I could do both. My life experiences have led me to places that I think could right non-fiction about growing up with three brothers in a trailer on a single mom's salary. Getting some help every now and then from a grandmother, or great-grandmother didn't hurt either.

Seeing the world from the side of the working poor keeps one humble. It makes you appreciate every single extra you get. And it scares the living hell out of you to think it could happen all over again in the blink of an eye.

Just a blink of an eye.

I work two jobs now and take nothing for granted. It's part distraction, part greed, part friendship and part love. The love is for my wife and her ambitions, the friendships come from the want to help others get funding to make their jobs more impactful and maybe just a bit easier.

The distraction is obvious to anyone who follows these ramblings, and the greed is just a really solid health insurance plan, extra money to replenish savings that were somewhat diminished as we built a business, and some extra tax cushions.

But when we realize how fragile life is and how quickly things can change, the idea of writing a book comes with more of a sense of urgency. And that can be a bad thing because most average writers can't write in a rush.

Sometimes the words flow, but most of the time they don't. And you have to pull them from the gray matter like a tick stuck in the thick of your hair right behind the ear.

The book isn't an ambition of wealth. It's about legacy. I want to leave this world with something great for a 20-year-old girl who already left this world. That's nuts right? I mean I believe at this point in my life I have to be partly, if not more, crazy.

So on the way back from dropping Lee off at St. Louis Lambert International Airport in the Southwest terminal Tuesday, I started dictating ideas into my phone's voice recorder. Before I knew it I was about 40 miles from Keokuk.

I think I started doing it as a skeleton for the book. Kind of just organizing my thoughts, but it was so comfortable and random that it might be easier to just write everything I said in the dictation. That's funny... if you think about it, that's kinda funny.

Anyway, who knows. I work about 85 hours a week in both jobs so I've got time to write a book. But you get ahead a couple days a week, partition some time off on an early Sunday morning before the wife gets up and pretty soon you got a couple chapters and you're off and running.

I think I want to write something to help parents who've lost children. Maybe I don't know jack about that. I know that every single situation is different and my telling people how to deal with the death of a child is no different that how angry I would get when therapists would try to tell me things to do to make life easier for me.

But I think by telling my story, maybe it paves the way not for the parents who've lost children before me, although that may be worth the read. I think it would be more to help those who are going to face this darkness in the future.

Either way it may or may not come to fruition. It just depends on how life comes at me over the next year or so. And we know what a crap-shoot that is.

Speaking of the Southwest terminal, ATTENTION if you have a white four-door Ford with Lee County plates, you've left your lights on. But that's Beside the Point.

Chuck Vandenberg is editor and co-owner of Pen City Current. He can be reached at

author, beside the point, books, Chuck Vandenberg, editorial, opinion, Pen City Current, Sunday


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