My first book is a re-creation of Don Quixote as if he was living in Los Angeles in the 1970’s. I had written the chapters in a writing group in Irvine—and then, in my seventies, I joined the Oscher Lifetime Learning group at California State University—Fullerton—a delicious-sounding program for senior citizens.
Of course, my wife joined too, and while she focused on classes in paleontology and science, I joined several writing workshops. What an inviting program—no grades, no attendance rules, just the fun of learning a wide spectrum of classes taught by teachers, mostly retired like ourselves.
After taking writing classes for a number of years, I was encouraged to attend a new class taught by Fritz von Coelln, called “Publish Before You Perish,” a take-off on an academic requirement for professors popularly referred to as “Publish or Perish.” Of course, we were all seniors and in various stages of closeness to perishing.
I must tell you that with five grown children and ten grandchildren, I was tempted to take “PBYP” in order to leave some legacy from all the casual writing I had done as entertainment.
One day, Fritz asked me, “Do you have a book?” “Well, yes,” I answered, “but it’s all over the place—drafts, computer documents, file cabinets, God knows.”
I remembered being fascinated by writing drafts about an old character who was steeped in medieval romance and had read Don Quixote de La Mancha and who woke up one morning thinking he was the old knight and wanted to set things right in 70’s L. A. So I gathered all my draft pages put them all on Word, and gave them to Fritz.
My God! In less than a week, Fritz handed me a draft book! Including a cover-picture I had drawn of my old knight.
After several readings and corrections, we told the publisher, CreateSpace, to print copies. Since then, I have been asked to read chapters at writing classes and present one chapter orally on YouTube, all arranged by Fritz.
And, I must say, my children and grandchildren have been reading and enjoying El Don.
Then Fritz asked if I had a second book. Yes, but this one is truly all over in bits and pieces. I managed to get all the elements (stories and poems) onto a “thumb-drive disk.” With a list of what went where. In another few days, Fritz came up with another draft book, with another of my illustrations.
So, really, at eighty-four years, after some severe illness, I published my first two books. My family loves them, and they have drawn interest from several of my friends.
Fritz asks me, “How’s your next book?” I’m working on it. With the help of Fritz and the supportive environment of the Publish Before You Perish folks, the third book may yet come.
Thank you Fritz and PBYP! What an idea!
…..By Henry Smith, Author “El Don, Le Morte Quixote” and “Hunters, Lovers, Kings and Fools” both available on Amazon.com. To see Hank read “An Ancient Enemy” chapter ten from “El Don, Le Morte Quixote” click HERE.