Spitting Into the Wind, Part III
I’m perfectly well aware that Noel Coward once remarked that reading a footnote is like having to stop making love so you can go downstairs to answer the door. But what did he know? I love footnotes. In his (much over-praised) book, “Infinite Jest,” David Foster Wallace included almost 100 pages of footnotes, which was terrific. Unfortunately, he put them at the end of the book, which was laughable.
In most of my books, articles and white papers, I use footnotes with abandon, and many people, including me, think those are the most interesting parts of the pieces. I began writing my blog the same way—footnoting every cite and fact, dumping many fascinating (in my opinion) asides into footnotes, and so happily on. But I gradually realized that a blog is a different animal. It exists only online, which makes footnotes unworkable, leaving me only with endnotes, which I mainly hate. Using footnotes in a blog post, I learned, is like using footnotes in a children’s story.
So I (mostly) stopped using footnotes and endnotes, with the result that now, even though the posts are on the printed page, there aren’t many. I stopped producing them somewhere along the way and killed off most of the others for this publication.
Picture books for grownups
When I completed the first draft of the manuscript for the blog book I printed it out and took it home to read it. I was horrified by what I saw. Every week for five years I had been publishing posts in easy-to-digest, 1,000-word chunks. But now I was staring at a solid, 300-page wall of black text. I would, I thought, rather stab myself in the eye with a sharp pencil than read this thing, and I wrote it. What will other people think?
Fortunately, a year earlier I had published a collection of children’s stories, and on that project I worked with the very talented illustrator, April Hartmann. How come, I began thinking, little kids get to read books with nice pictures in them, while we grownups have to slog through miles of ugly black text? After all, they publish so-called “graphic novels” for grownups. So I decided to work with April again and her drawings and illustrations vastly enliven what would otherwise have been a grim experience.
When I was young I, like everyone else, planned ahead and thought ahead and worried a lot about the future. But now, in my seventies, I find such activity to be a waste of time. Maybe there will be a future and maybe there won’t. When someone tells you “every day may be your last,” and you are 40 years old, you pat them on the head and tell them to run along. But when you are in your seventies they are speaking The God’s Own Truth to you and you had better take heed.
That’s a long way of answering the question I am asked a lot: “How long are you going to continue writing your blog?” The honest answer is that I have no idea. When Sundays come around, I try to punch out the first draft of the upcoming Friday’s post. And then when the next Sunday comes around, if it does, I’ll punch out another one. But I don’t plan ahead, don’t think, okay, five years from now I’ll put out Volume 2 of my selected blog posts. If there is a Volume 2 that will be a happy surprise. But if there isn’t, there isn’t.
In any event, I began working on my book of selected blog posts in early 2018, that being the fifth anniversary of the launch of the blog back in 2013. But since I was working on the book and writing new posts simultaneously, the year kept slipping by and more and more posts kept offering themselves up for possible inclusion in the book.
I had originally intended to limit the selections in the book strictly to those published between January 1, 2013 and December 31, 2017, i.e., exactly five years worth, or roughly 260 posts. In fact, the selections chosen for inclusion in the book range from those published online in early 2013 to those published online in mid-summer of 2018. If I ever publish a Volume 2, the possible selections will begin with a series of posts on “Central Bankers Then and Now,” which first saw the light of day in July 2018.
My book, published by Lilting House Press, has the same title as this series of posts—“Spitting Into the Wind”—and, as noted above, it is illustrated by April Hartmann. If you are interested in taking a look, it’s available on Amazon here.
Meanwhile, I’ll bring this series of posts to a close by wishing everyone a joyous holiday season and by thanking you for reading. Just knowing you are out there makes it all worthwhile.
Next up: We Are Forever Grateful for Your Sacrifices