In year 2000, I attended a short writing class at a community college in Traverse City, Michigan. It was one day a week for about six weeks. I thought I might learn a few tricks and besides, I just felt like writing something. I didn’t learn much from the course, other than I should avoid the passive voice. My fellow classmates were all older women. Even older than me!
As part of the course, I was encouraged to write something about my life. I chose to write about my adoptive mom. The chapter in my book, “Boogie Nights” was culled from that first attempt at writing. The female instructor didn’t seem impressed. I wrote a second two-page story about my first girlfriend and my attempts to talk her out her clothes. I described that event where I ripped the skin off the back of my hand in an attempt to free my hand from her panty-girdle. My instructor and my afternoon bridge classmates were not amused.
Based her lack of enthusiasm and my fellow student’s thumbs-down review, I gave up the idea of writing. However, on occasion, an idea for a story from my life would strike me in more sober moments. Some of those stories also made it into the book. Eventually, I gave up the idea of writing.
Something happened on the way to my retirement age. Notice, I said retirement-age, not retirement. I often told stories to friends about my wild, wicked and funny life, and my near-death experiences from St John’s, Newfoundland to Toronto to Nashville to Hollywood. The response most often was, “Damn! That’s crazy shit. You need to write a book Campbell!” After hearing that comeback a dozen times or so, I thought that maybe I should try my writing hand again. This time, there were not going to be any bridge-club ladies critiquing my work. I didn’t give a damn. I would simply write my story, warts and all and put it out there. Judgments be damned!
It took about four years to write my autobiography, “The Ugly One in the Middle.” It was fun. Okay, so I didn’t care what anyone thought, until an author friend read a chapter gave me a mind-blowing review of my writing style…or voice, as she put it. Suddenly, I cared. I tested it on a few more friends, who all awarded me such positive feedback that inspired me to finish my book and get it out into the free world.
It’s done. I’m happy with it. I could say that I don’t care what people think but I’d be lying. I do not necessarily care what professional book reviewers have to say about it, just as I am not interested in reviewers opinions about movies or music. I’ve been told that the opinions of family and friends don’t matter. They do to me, far more than a New York Times review. (not that I will ever get one of those) If the people I care about don’t enjoy it, nobody else matters.
Now the really hard work begins. I have to promote and market it to the world. Over 100,000 books are released every year. Mine is one of them. Good luck, me.