We also appreciate all the compliments we received about our photography.
both enjoyed taking photos along the way.
I still haven't edited all of them (well over 3,000 shots).
I think my one-day photo "PR" was 97 or 98 pictures in
the Mt. Rogers/Grayson Highlands area in southern Virginia; I took 95 one day in
the Smokies. Of course, not all of them are fit to print on the web site but
there are more I can share in the "photo essays" I will write soon and
on the Webshots
link later on.
Some readers suggested including as many pictures as possible with the
journal entries if we publish a book. Peggy, who was wonderfully supportive during our
"I think you need to seriously think about publishing a book about your
journey. With all the pix you took, I'm sure you could have a great
coffee-table book with all the splendor of the AT (for those couch potatoes
that just sit at home) but also have enough solid info about the trail that
potential hikers could get a lot out of it, too. Most of the books I've ever
seen are geared toward one or the other--hiker manuals but no real writing or
photography, or just pictures of the gorgeous landscapes but no real
information . . . Just in case you don't have anything else to do!"
I'd love to do that! However, it's very expensive to include more than a few
black and white photos in a book. I'm afraid color ones would require that a
major publishing house be involved.
Since we are only self-taught amateur photographers (with good photo editing
software), we're pleased that readers have enjoyed our photos and think them
worthy of publication or have asked us for permission to use them on their own
web sites or as wallpaper on their computers.
Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who encouraged me to write a
book and made suggestions about the content.
We also appreciate the valuable professional advice we received from three people after we
got home regarding the publishing process: my sister, Nancy, who is the
editor of a
scholarly ecumenical religious quarterly; Neal Jamison, local ultra runner
and friend who has
edited and published books on ultra running and adventure racing; and Don Allison,
ultra runner, writer,
editor, and publisher of Ultra Running magazine. These folks all know
their "stuff" and graciously shared information with us.
I've thought a lot about this over three months. I have mixed feelings about getting a hard copy published and at this point I
don't intend to pursue it.
You weren't expecting that, were you?
My goal would be to inspire others, not
self-aggrandizement. Too many other ultra and journey runners have done
adventures just as special as (or more spectacular than) mine who have either
written their stories or plan to do so. That was clear to me after reading all
the web sites of the individuals featured in the November issue of Ultra
Running. It doesn't mean they will all find publishers, but they have
clearly stated their intentions.
As far as inspiring the general non-running public . . . just because I'm 56
and have arthritis doesn't necessarily make my story salable to the masses.
There are already so many other inspirational stories out there by cancer
survivors and paraplegics and people with a wide range of disabilities who have accomplished more than I
have against 'way bigger odds.
And there is already a wide variety of AT hiking books, speed hiking books, trail running
books, and other adventurous sports books on the market.
I think the folks who
are most interested in this type of adventure have already found our web site or
will eventually find it when they do a web search. Or they'll learn about it from
friends (hint, hint) or another web site's link to it.
Maybe I'm wrong and there's a larger market out there for this journal than I
think. That would be nice, of course. But how do we determine that before
I'd rather have no printed book than one that flops.
PESSIMIST? NO, I'M A REALIST.
OK, let's say we decide to take the gamble and search for a publisher who is
enthusiastic about this journal and believes it could make a profit for the
company. Or one just pops up who makes us an offer. I still have concerns.
The biggest is that I would lose control over the contents. Surely it is
too long to publish in its entirely. I wouldn't want to make any major changes
to it, and I wouldn't want to take the whole thing off the internet (which I
think I'd be required to do in order to sell more print copies).
This journal is very personal to me. I like it the way it is and I don't want
to change it.
There are some other pitfalls to using a publisher, such as
having little control over the length of time it is available to the public,
where and how it is marketed, and other issues. I'd have
to be very careful of the contract details. I don't
have expertise in that area.
I don't want to get "taken" by a publisher because of my naiveté, nor
I want to employ an agent or attorney to protect my best interests..
There is another alternative. It's been suggested that I self-publish my book, like David Horton did with
his first book (I say "first" because he wants to write another one about his
speed record on the Pacific Crest Trail). I have no interest in this process. It requires a lot of $$$ up
front and rigorous selling.
I am not a salesperson. I hated selling Girl
Scout cookies when I was a kid!! Fund-raising even for great causes is anathema
to me. It would be easier if we had as much traffic on our web site as David
does on his (he directs several ultras and has lots of other information on his
site), or if we edited/published a popular ultra running magazine, like Don
Allison, in which we could advertise free every month.
But we don't have those advantages, so not only would the initial expense to
self-publish a book be prohibitive, we'd also have to pay to advertise and
promote it heavily ourselves at races and other venues.
No, thanks. I want to move on to other adventures!
DOING IT MY WAY: AN E-BOOK
With modern technology (i.e., the internet) I can reach
millions of people around the world with this journal in its entirety, including
hundreds of color photos . . . and they don't have to pay a penny to read
it! Isn't it amazing when you think about all the information to which we
have access nowadays??
And look at all the trees and ink I'm saving by NOT "writing a book!"
I love books. Always have. I've sold or given away hundreds during my
lifetime, and still have quite a diverse collection left. There's nothing like
holding an interesting or beautiful or really old book in my hands.
And it would be totally awesome if I could hold my OWN book in my hands. But
I don't think it's ever gonna happen, folks, unless a miracle occurs. Sorry.
My very supportive but techno-phobic brother hasn't read all my journal yet because he hates
using the computer. He's "waiting for the book." Don't hold your breath, Bill. I
promise I'll show you my multi-volume set of scrapbooks about the AT Adventure
Run whenever I get around to compiling them . . . maybe when I'm retired!
Southern Presidential Range
So please enjoy my journal on-line and tell others about it who might be
interested. January is a great time to live someone else's adventure vicariously
and dream of your own.
And a special thanks to Jenny from Ontario who completely made my day
recently when she e-mailed this to me:
"I have finished your journal for the second time. Your style is the best
I've found so far. Journey and journal I mean. I have AT fever bad!"
As long as this journal is, I am in awe that someone has taken the time to
read it twice! Thanks, Jenny. I'm glad it's been helpful.
Jenny asked my opinion about the pros and cons of doing the trail northbound
versus southbound, and I wrote to her personally about that. I've responded many
times to readers who had questions if I didn't immediately incorporate the
topics into journal entries. I don't claim to have all the answers, but I'm
sincere in my effort to give information about what worked for me and why, etc.
So if you ever have questions or feedback about something I've mentioned
here, please feel free to e-mail us at the link below.
Jenny's letter ended,
"I don't know when I will be able to do my thru hike but in the mean time I
will live vicariously through your journal and others. Being a runner myself I
hope to also read of some of your ultras and hopefully future thru hikes."
Jim and I have had so much fun with this journal and the friends we've made
through it that we intend to write another similar one about our various 2006
adventures. We sometimes write race reports for the ultra list serve but we
haven't been diligent about putting them on our web site. We'll also include
training information and lots of pictures.
Rainy morning through the Kinsman boulder jungle
SPEAKING OF THE A.T. . . .
This letter was also quite flattering and brought up another subject re:
sharing our Trail story with others - speaking to groups about our adventure. Dave wrote,
"Thanks for a
beautifully penned AT Journal. It's a wonderful read, that which I have
completed to date. I love your wit and delivery. If you ever schedule AT
talks, I'd like to be on your mailing list."
I'll be blunt here - I write better than I speak! There is no speaking tour in
the works. It's doubtful I'll ever initiate the idea of a talk to any group
about my AT experience. (I might consent if a group indicates a strong interest
and if Jim will help me out.) I did fine speaking to teenagers when I was a
teacher in the early 1970s and in the 1990s when I trained several hundred adult
volunteers for the Juvenile Court program I directed. I'm not afraid to speak
about topics I know, I just don't have an engaging, witty delivery.
Sorry - but thank you for the wonderful compliment, Dave.
Next up: thank you's to all the folks who made our trip possible
and/or more enjoyable through their support and encouragement.
Wishing you a tranquil week before Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and whatever
other holidays I've inadvertently missed,.