So Long And Thanks For All The Film

On Monday, June 20, I went to the Augusta library to look at microfilm ordered through interlibrary loan. I've been doing this for about the last 12 to 15 years. That Monday was the last time I'll make such a trip.

There was an increase in the price of copies, but this only moved up the day when this was going to happen. The main reason for this has to do with the nonfiction side of my writing career.

As you know, right now the nonfiction book I'm promoting is Kansas, 1874. I had planned on promoting it just through next year. But I haven't reached all the places I wanted to so far. I'm wondering if I might still be doing events for it through 2013. That would push back the release of the next big nonfiction book about county-seat fights in Kansas. I plan on giving myself three years to promote that, since it covers so much of the state. Any delay in the release pushes back when my new Kansas Pacific railroad history comes out (and my book on the struggle over slavery in Kansas, which I wanted to have out at the same time).

Obviously, I'll be promoting my nonfiction books through the rest of this decade.

And after that? Well, I have some ideas, but that's all they are right now. They're interesting ideas, but I'm not as passionate about those projects as I have been about what I've been working on. If I'm going to spend time and money on them I should really care about them.

I've also wondered about researching and writing any project if it will several years before I can publish it. Does that make the effort more of "something to keep me busy" rather than "a book I want to write?" Does it make sense to work on a book now that I'm not passionate about, and that won't come out for a decade or so?

Something else I've thought about is how technology is changing research. I had to look at microfilm because that was the only way to get information out of old newspapers. For several years efforts have been underway to digitize newspapers and put them on the web. I took advantage of those resources for the Kansas Territory book, and more recently for the KP book. There aren't many newspapers online right now, but what about several years from now? I think I'll wait and see what more is done before starting on any new projects.

Then there's my fiction writing. The split between fiction and nonfiction hasn't bothered me because the nonfiction work gives me ideas, and it makes me money. But I have ideas in fiction that I do care about. What if the fiction end takes off (however modestly)? I already spend a lot of time and money promoting my nonfiction. Would my fiction do better if I put more resources into that instead?

So, that's where things stand right now. I'm going to promote what's coming out. I'm going to finish up the research and writing of the Kansas Pacific history. I'll spend more time on fiction. Then, in several years, I'll see where I am and what I want to do.

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