I learned a lesson and some facts at the Indiana Lake ACBS Chapter’s Wooden Boat meet this summer. First off, ACBS stands for Antique Classic Boat Society, which is a membership organization started “on the shores of Lake George Lake New York in 1975.” Its purpose is “to connect people who enjoy classic boats,” and the organization has grown to become the largest group dedicated to the preservation and enjoyment of classic boats.
It just so happens that in our garage is an old wooden boat—a 1957 Wagemaker--- made by the Wolverrine Company in Grand Rapids that qualifies. It’s not in pristine condition, but it has a molded plywood and lap plank design, and it has some bells and whistles. When it was purchased by my father-in-law some thirty years or more ago to use for fishing purposes there was a hole in the front where it had experienced a blow of some sort. Maybe somebody drove it into a dock or a rock. Who knows. The hole was repaired, and the boat was used for a time. When our children were little, they learned to water ski on Hamilton Lake behind the old Wagemaker. Now for at least twenty years or more, the boat hasn’t even seen water So, like any old manuscript, it was time to take it out, give it a look, and see if it was still readable or in this case, sea-worthy. We didn’t take the boat to the meet because it wasn’t ready. It sits in our garage. Maybe next year…
But the lesson I learned has nothing to do with boats. At the ACBS meet, one participant found out I was a writer, and so he asked, “What do you write?” Herein I failed. I stumbled. I said, “All sorts of things” and paused.
I explained I write a variety of genres, I wrote a biography ART SMITH, PIONEER AVIATOR published by McFarland & Company, and junior fiction-the latest one-JUSTIN WAS A TERROR, a collection of short stories- TACKING FORWARD, and a collection of stories set in the rural South-THIS RED EARTH & BEYOND THIS RED EARTH, and that I wrote a personal opinion column for fifteen years, and feature articles, and op-eds, and also am a playwright. I realized I had to figure out how to answer that simple question in one short sentence!
But when the next person asked me what I write, I stumbled again. Maybe it was because the heat index was close to one hundred and seven that afternoon and I was outside in that heat or maybe I just wasn’t thinking. I came away with an assignment. In order to effectively talk about or market my books, I have to be able to put into a single sentence a short yet inclusive answer to the question, “What do you write?” I am still working on the assignment.
I write plays, non-fiction, and adult and junior fiction. That is the answer, but it seems lame. Perhaps when someone asks, I can say, “I write plays, non-fiction, and adult and junior fiction, which genre interests you?” That way the ball is put in the other person’s court. Given some insight as to where the person’s interest lies, I can then elaborate.
Next time at some boat, car, or aviation meet, or street or town festival, when someone casually asks, “What do you write?” I will try it out. Will it work? I don’t know.