For anyone thinking about quitting their day job to start earning big bucks as an author, think again. James Patterson, Stephen King, Bob Woodward and other literary luminaries are, of course, the exception, but when you are writing and self-publishing brief memoirs, well, it is a good idea to make sure the mortgage payment does not rely on this months’ book royalties.
Knowing this, when I sit down to write I do so for entirely different reasons. The fact is, I enjoy putting ideas down on paper and, hopefully, providing a worthwhile experience for the reader along the way. And if, on occasion, the final draft turns out well, I give full credit to two important people … Miss Goodman, my High School English teacher … and Sergeant Herbie Stahn, who was merciless in reviewing reports that I wrote … and rewrote … as a young Trooper with the New York State Police.
I also enjoy writing and self-publishing because it puts me in touch with people with whom I enjoy interacting. In the area where I reside, there is a community-oriented chain of stores named Half Price Books. Their shops are always fun to visit, and they even provide “book signing” opportunities for local authors. I have taken advantage of a number of these events and, though books sales are always modest, the conversations with customers and passers by always make for a delightful experience.
Most of the time.
At one recent gathering, a number of folks stopped to talk about my book “Dear HIppie … We Met at Woodstock,” with many sharing their recollections of what was going on in their lives at that time and place in history. There was a lot of laughter and much discussion about that iconic festival, and many theories about why people are still talking about it today.
Around the middle of the afternoon, a woman walking past my table noticed the book and its’ title. She stopped, looked at the cover and said: “Woodstock … I saw a move about that once.” The conversation that followed went, essentially, like this:
Me: “Yes, I was there, and that’s why I wrote the book.”
Her: “The movie showed that it was wild and out of control, with people doing all kinds of drugs.”
Me: “I worked there as a police officer and, yes, there was a lot of marijuana being smoked. But the fact is the youngsters were extremely cooperative and kind.”
Her: “The movie said that people were drunk, stoned and having sex all over the place.”
Me: “Well, like I said, I was there and I did not see any of that.”
Her: “Well, maybe you should watch the movie.”
Me: “Um … I was there.”
Her: “Well … okay then!”
After giving me a look of haughty disdain, the woman turned and stalked away. As I watched her disappear into the crowd, I was reminded of Earl Landgrebe, a Republican Congressman who, in 1974, registered his adamant opposition to the impeachment of Richard Nixon with these memorable words: “Don’t confuse me with facts. I’ve got a closed mind.”
There is more to be said on this matter but, for now, I must move on to something far more important. I have to go in search of a copy of the “Woodstock” movie from 1970 … and once I lay hands on it, I may finally be able to find out what really happened over those magnificent three days in August, 1969, in Bethel, New York.