categories: Bad Advice / Cocktail Hour
A great way to approach an essay and eventually a book is to become an expert at something. You might start with the idea of writing about your summer fishing in the Adirondacks, or about your history as a dancer, or your years working construction, all good–great stories, and fascinating. But as you begin your draft, also study up. You’ve already done your research in that you’ve done the fishing or dancing or building, also in that you’ve read extensively in dance history, or fly-tying books, or building code manuals. But there are many experts in these wildly diverse fields. I’m talking about going micro. So, for the fisherman, Stone flies. For the dancer, say, pointe shoes. For the builder, not tools, but the hammer.
I mean it: the hammer, the shoe, the fly.
Who makes hammers, anyway? Why are there so many types? What do the guys and gals at construction sites have to say about hammers? Who invented the the shape we’re familiar with? The first ones were rocks, right? How many murders a year are committed with hammers? How many with pointe shoes? Stone flies, Jesus, they ought to be outlawed!
Your eventual expertise gives you an entry point into the vast body of your material, and can help you keep focused. Plus, no one but no one is going to know more about hammers than you. There’s even a story in the study: the story of discovery. There’s your historical essay. There’s the anthropology, the sociology. You’re the expert–there’s an angle for almost every magazine out there. And then, let’s get back to it–your book.
If I had a pointe shoe! I’d pointe shoe in the morning. I’d pointe shoe in the evening. All over this land!