intro to shooting pigeons
Writers write to publish and if
the publishers decline you can
always publish yourself. Why
not? With this in mind, back in
1999, I put together a handful of
pieces—stories and essays--
and sent them off to my buddy
Jack D'Amico in Buffalo for a
quick editing job. All writers have
an editor and Jack was mine.
He made suggestions and I
gave the manuscript a final re-
write and delivered it to Amy,
the queen of Future Studio for
typesetting and a cover design.
Then it was over to the printer.
The quote from the printer was
$2500 for 1000 copies. I said: I
only want 500 copies. The
printer said: in that case the
price is $2500.
So ahead we went with the job
and 2 weeks later I get a call
from the printer. He said: we
have a problem—an overrun of
300. I can give you a good price.
I said: I only wanted 500. Now
its up to 1300. Forget it.
So a few days later a large semi
pulls up to the house and here
are my books--35 boxes with 39
copies in each box equals
Now all that remained was to
sell them. Need I add I didnt sell
them. Some years later I still
had 28 boxes of books
gathering dust in the garage. I
needed that space and it was a
tough call but I made the call
and threw out 25 boxes of the
But it was something I did—to
publish the book—that I am glad
I did, because, as I am fond of
saying—writing only becomes
writing upon publication.
Otherwise it doesnt exist.
Manuscripts don’t count. Plus—
it was a good book. Otherwise
why publish it? I got a lot of
compliments about the book.
So here follows, for the reading
pleasure of the many devoted
fans of bflowriter.com, the
introduction to the book.
|rowing the boat
Rowing the boat is an expression favored by my friend
Frederica. I visit her once or twice a week. She is
married with two kids. I go to the house and ask
whats what and her eyeballs spin in their sockets in a
familiar way and she gives me a “what can I tell you?”
look and says: I am Rowing the Boat.
In other words—its the same this week like it was last
week and the week before that and all the weeks in
the future as well.
The image can be developed further. The boat being
rowed is on a river. The current is swift. Downriver—
not too far—are the falls. These are a formidable
hazard—in the Niagara/Victoria/Iguassu category.
There are other boats with other people rowing. They
are rowing with great urgency. Its a desperate
situation. Some people are in the water. The boats
have capsized and they are being swiftly whisked
They are swimming for their lives. But the current is
treacherous. The water is cold—like ice. A few
minutes of this and they are finished. They signal
frantically for the people in the boats to extend an
arm or oar and haul them aboard. This sometimes
occurs. But not too often, Caution is advised here. We
could capsize ourselves and wind up in the drink with
these other sorry chumps. Also its added weight—
steerage. It makes our progress upstream more
We continue to row.
Its exhausting. And somehow we don’t seem to be
making progress. There is a tree on the riverbank—to
our right. We measure our progress with reference to
this tree. But there is no progress. The tree doesnt
move—or barely. Some days we pull a small distance
ahead. Some days we fall a bit behind. Some days
we fall quite a bit behind and must double our
But usually we are in the exact same spot as the day
Its aggravating. Naturally it could be worse. We could
be in the drink with all these other people—the sorry
chumps—being dragged under or even at the brink
about to be swept over and plunged onto the rocks
There is the occasional hydroplane with a few upper
class or filthy rich types that go flying past—but for
the rest of us the tree doesnt move. Nothing is
happening. We are going nowhere. Our concern is not
to make progress upstream but to keep from being
dragged downstream over the falls and shredded in a
hideous way upon the rocks below.
That is Rowing the Boat.