Writing a travel book is just like making a movie. (I was a cinema minor, so please indulge me here.) After months of scrounging up money and drawing neat little daily schedules on Microsoft Excel, you head into the field for months, stay up past midnight, get mud on your jeans, capture your raw material, and then, you hunker down in a city with affordable rent and spend the rest of the year distilling all that material into two hours of footage. Or in my case, about 200-300 pages of prose.
That’s how it hopefully works.
But sometimes, when you step into the editing room and screen the dailies, you realize that something’s not right. Maybe those helicopters that you shot against a setting sun look more manatees. Perhaps Ryan Gosling had a sinus infection during the last day of filming and his voice in the climactic scene now brings to mind Truman Capote. In any event, you’ve got two options: release an imperfect picture, or return to the outside world for re-shoots.
This winter, I’m conducting some “re-shoots” of my own. I’ll be visiting New York City again from November 17-19. Then, just a few weeks later, I’m flying to Detroit and conducting interviews there between December 10-13.
Why? There are too many reasons to list here. Upon returning from the summer trip, I stumbled across Millennials with interesting stories set in both these cities. I found gaps in the book narrative where some of these stories would be an excellent fit. And in the case of Detroit, I watched the news and considered the enormity of what has just happened there, and what it could mean for the rest of America.
If you live in either of those cities and would like to meet up for coffee, a beer, or conversation, please feel free to send me an email. I’d love to hear from you.
Finally, a production update. Right now, the manuscript is roughly one third complete. I’ve taken the past week to update my query materials and have a few trusted colleagues read the chapter drafts. Starting this weekend, I’ll be sending proposal packages to literary agents and select publishers for consideration. If you know of a “representation offer dance” I could perform before bedtime each night, I’m all ears.
Stay tuned for that promised chapter leak. It should be dropping sometime before Thanksgiving!