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December 1, 2017: The Writing Life: Beyond Forks in the Road

This book project is far different than the other book projects that I’ve done. I have an undergraduate degree in Journalism, and worked for several newspapers here in Alaska, so I do know how to conduct interviews. But after working for a while as a reporter I got graduate degrees in Creative Nonfiction Writing and in Composition and Rhetoric. After, my focus was on memoir writing. This did not require me to interview anyone for inclusion in any publications.

I have enjoyed writing personal essays – I have always enjoyed showing readers the path of my thinking. My dispatches, most of which are approximately 500 words, are short essays. I started If You Come to a

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Fork in the Road, Pick it Up intending for it to be just a series of dispatches. Then I realized that information was lacking, this was why I began doing dispatch-complementary interviews. My project now fits into the rubric of what is called literary journalism, journalism that has a factual basis. At the same time, writers working in this genre use the more fictive devices of dialogue, point of view, and narration. Such accounts are often in the first person. John McPhee and Joan Didion are two very known literary journalists.

I admittedly was a bit rusty when it came to doing interviews. I was also lacking in confidence, for I feared I might either misquote someone or get the information all wrong. I decided that after writing up interviews, that I’d share them with the interviewee. I’ve been doing this and it’s been working out well. Everyone has been quite helpful.

I further decided that I’d involve others at the point in which this become a book project. I am now seeing it as more of a collaborative venture of numerous individuals, all of whom in one way or another know more about the ins and outs of recycling and recyclables than I do. Carole Henry, Pamella Meekin, Pete Praetorius, Mollie Boyer and innumerable interviewees have repeatedly added to my meager knowledge base. So in this respect, it is also their book.

“Fork,” as I call it, is going to have a large readership – and that readership is going to better understand a central premise behind this book – that individually, we all can make a difference. This isn’t a cliché, it is a truism.

I don’t know how this will work graphically, but what I’d like to do is to have the cover feature the names of the interviewees – listed, one after another, behind the cover photo and title. Let’s say, the cover is blue – it might surround the title page and the cover photo. The interviewee names (in the background) will be in gray. My name might be white, so it stands out; though at the same time, it would be one of many. This is because it’s customary for a book to have a lead author. I’m also the information gatherer, and as such, I will have constructed the resultant narrative. I think that Andrea Lunsford and Lisa Ede did this with their book on collaboration.

Having this kind of cover would then acknowledge that there is here, a community of recyclers who for some time have been making major contributions in this area. Yes, I’d feel good about doing it this way. It’s also another road of sorts, one that I would hope that others might imitate.

Next: 333. 12/2/17: What’s to Come?

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