Moxietown excerpt #2-The Moxie Man

No one knows for sure when Lisbon Falls became the hub of the Moxie universe. As with any subject lacking canonical authorization, conjecture becomes commonplace and verification of authenticity is more difficult.

When I left Maine in 1982, for greener pastures, only to return for better opportunities in 1987, the town had somehow become part of the story arc and epicenter of Moxie’s unanticipated resurgence.

Oddly enough, Frank Anicetti (one of Lisbon’s more colorful characters), had become the mayor of Moxietown, with his Kennebec Fruit Company (or “Kennebec’s” to the locals) serving as the world headquarters of a burgeoning movement of people that genuflected at the altar of a product, whose heyday had been the early 20th century.

When I was a kid, Kennebec’s was the place to go if you wanted to load up on an assortment of penny candy. Anicetti, a collector of the arcane, in the truest sense, also had acquired a reputation locally for stocking the bitter concoction, laced with gentian root, known as Moxie. As a youngster, I remember Kennebec’s being jointly run by father and son, both named Frank.

The Anicetti’s store has always held a timeless quality for me and many others that have ventured inside the store with yellow panels, and green trim. Entering the place from Main Street is the equivalent of modern time travel. A visitor is able to walk backwards, down that corridor of time, to an era befitting pre-WWII. The worn floor boards, the various bottles of antique Coca-Cola lining shelves near the ceiling, with hand-lettered 3 X 5 cards, inserted like flags, indicating the part of the world and time period where they were from. The vintage countertop and old-fashioned fountain, are like nothing you’d see in the 21st century. In fact, Kennebec’s seemed strangely out of place, even during the early 1970s, when my friends and I used to ride our bikes downtown, to chug a mug of root beer (an Anicetti family recipe) and buy 25 cents worth of penny candy like Hot Balls, Zotz, and other chemically-enhanced and sugar-saturated candy derivatives.

The Kennebec Fruit Company, was founded by Frank’s Italian immigrant grandfather, who brought his knowledge of fruit vending to America and Lisbon Falls, parlaying that skill into a successful business. Later, his father, would take over the business and eventually, young Frank fell into the business, a 75-year-old tradition, which he’s continued into the new century.

While some locals cast sidelong glances when discussions originate about Anicetti and his current exalted status with Moxie aficionados from away, the popularity of his store and his own personal magnetism is obvious during each summer’s annual festival celebrating the soft drink, which seems to grow every year. Now, over 20,000 people flock to Lisbon Falls the second Saturday each July, for no other reason than to watch the Moxie parade and congregate on Main Street afterwards to sample Anicetti’s Moxie ice cream, watch Moxie-chuggin’ contests, listen to music, and watch the fireman’s muster.

Over the past couple of years, I’ve stopped by Kennebec’s and availed myself of Anicetti’s willingness to share his knowledge of local history. Each time I’ve stopped by, I picked up new tidbits about the town and Moxie. When I figured out I wanted to write a new book about Lisbon Falls and Moxie, I realized that it was time for a formal interview with Anicetti. My idol for collecting people’s stories has always been legendary Chicago talk show host and author, Studs Terkel. Terkel’s interview partner has always been the tape recorder, so if cassette tapes are good enough for him, then I decided I would visit Anicetti, armed with my $25 Radio Shack recorder and my questions.

The day I visited Anicetti’s Kennebec Fruit Company, President’s Day 2008, torrential rain and associated roof issues were Anicetti’s order of the day. Stepping inside the historic store, I was greeted by the sound of steady drops of water falling from the classic tin punch roof, into buckets scattered about the store. The building’s roof, heavy with the winter’s overly abundant snow pack, was experiencing the same problems that many others were up against during this tough winter of 2007-2008.

“I’m waiting on a call from the roofer, so I hope you don’t mind if I have to dump buckets from time to time,” said Anicetti.

Pleased to have him give me his time for the interview, leaking roof and bucket emptying were minor intrusions, from my perch on one of the stools alongside the soda fountain.



[To learn more about why Moxie matters, Lisbon Falls, and the Moxie Festival, as well as other bits of new information about the 125-year-old soft drink, pick up a copy of Jim Baumer’s Moxietown, from RiverVision Press. Don’t delay, as the book is sure to sell out quickly.

You can read about Jim Baumer’s signing schedule and appearances, here.]

1 Comment

Filed under Book project; Moxietown; RiverVision Press

Moxietown excerpt #1

 

A Somewhat Brief History of Moxie

 

 

Its beginnings

 

In the latter days of the 19th century, the development of patent medicines was a popular pursuit of fledgling inventors, backroom chemists, and other assorted types. Long before the days of branding and Madison Avenue marketing, these various products often burst on the scene to much fanfare and quickly faded from view, only to become future trivia questions and left solely to the most loyal of consumers who in their own right could be described as cult aficionados.

Located in the Merrimack Valley of Massachusetts, the city of Lowell in the 1880s was an industrial city, with huge textile facilities lining the Merrimack River. While textile production was the anchor industry of the area, numerous manufacturers of patent medicines and various elixirs also set up shop in the city.

On July16, 1885, Dr. Augustin Thompson filed trademark number 12,565 (subsequently registered on September 8, 1885) for a product he called Moxie Nerve Food.

Thompson’s trademark indicated that Moxie, “has not a drop of Medicine, Poison, Stimulant, or Alcohol in its composition.”

Later on, Thompson’s application stated that Moxie was, “a liquid preparation charged with soda for the cure of paralysis, softening of the brain, and mental imbecility and called ‘Moxie Nerve Food.’ It is comprised in the class of medical compounds.”

The trademark application specified that Thompson chose the word Moxie arbitrarily and that he had been using the term in his business to describe his drink since April 1, 1884. Later, Moxie collectors and other historians would split hairs about whether the drink originated in 1884 or 1885. For marketing purposes, at least from the 1940s onward, ads stated that Moxie had been around since 1884.

After the filing of his patent for his product, Thompson began thinking of ways to market his drink/elixir, which led to the legend of something know as Lieutenant Moxie.

Lieutenant Moxie was a friend of Dr. Thompson. He had amassed a considerable fortune through speculation in oil around the world. After acquiring tubercular consumption from his mother, Moxie traveled to various regions of the world in search of a cure. In the mountains of South America, he discovered a medicinal plant, later known to be gentian root, being used by natives, to cure various ailments. Finding that it elicited a positive reaction on his own nervous system, Thompson claims the Lieutenant shipped a supply of the medicinal root, with the history of its use, to him in Lowell.

 

Thompson noted, “I found it cured anything caused by nervous exhaustion. It restored nervous people who were tired out mentally or physically; stopped the appetite for intoxicants in old drunkards, insanity, blindness from overtaxing the sight, paralysis, all but hereditary sick-headache, loss of manhood from excesses, made people able to stand twice their usual amount of labor, mentally, or physically, with less fatique. It cured two cases of softening of the brain, and recovered helpless limbs. I found it to be neither medicine nor stimulant, but a nerve food, and harmless as milk.” [from The Moxie Encyclopedia, Volume I, The History, by Q. David Bowers, page 32.]

 

News spread quickly of claims of Moxie’s medicinal qualities and demand for Thompson’s product saw him begin production, bottling 27,000 bottles per week.

What began as a local phenomenon, quickly expanded beyond the soda fountains and stores of Lowell. By July of 1885, Moxie was made in four large factories, with distribution throughout New England and New York. Production now exceeded 500,000 bottles. Wholesale dealers were being added all the time and sales agents were acquired in Rochester, New York; Baltimore, Maryland; and as far west as Chicago, Illinois.

While numerous variations on the Moxie legend would appear over the next several decades, it was obvious that Thompson’s original product had struck a nerve with consumers in New England and elsewhere. Where Thompson garnered the Moxie name from will always be a point of conjecture, particularly whether, or not, Moxie was a name that originated from Maine geography.

One thing we do know is that Dr. Augustin Thompson was born in Union, Maine, on November 25, 1835. It’s possible that he remembered seeing the name Moxie on a map of the state, like Moxie Lake, Moxie Mountain, or East Moxie Township.

Thompson received his education in the public schools of Union and at the age of sixteen, became an apprentice for a blacksmith. Young Thompson tried to develop a passion for his new trade, but he found it too confining and never was able to put his whole being into it.

As was common of self-taught men from the era, young Thompson spent much time studying a variety of books. He taught himself Latin and German and his once small library continued to expand. A voracious reader, Thompson acquired books wherever he could find them.

As an adult, Thompson would stand five feet, ten inches tall and by the time of the Civil War, though he might have been perceived as something of an intellectual, he was still able to mix it up with the best of his Company G of the 28th infantry. Known as the Maine Volunteers, Thompson did his part after enlisting in September of 1862, and was even commended twice for gallant performances in battle.

During one such battle, Thompson was struck in the chest by a rifle butt and subsequently was diagnosed with tuberculosis. From the complications that came with the disease, Thompson received an honorable discharge and returned to Maine in August of 1863.

After the war, Thompson enrolled at Hahnemann Homeopathic College in Philadelphia, where he would study medicine and graduate at the head of his class. In August of 1867, he made a decision to return to New England and Lowell, a burgeoning industrial city of nearly 40,000. This seemed like the ideal place to establish his fledgling practice.

Thompson built his practice into one of the largest in the city and according to an 1897 biography, worked nearly 18 hours a day, without vacation, church attendance, or other respites. Through overwork, Thompson, a vigorous man, “broke down and was obliged to build himself to vigor again.” This need to restore health and vitality was how he came to invent Moxie.

A devoted teetotaler, who also forswore tobacco products of any kind, he was particularly interested in remedies and so-called cures for alcoholism. He developed a solution to addiction called the New England Cure for Alcoholism. This product achieved limited popularity and was utilized by a variety of other health professionals.

Thompson was a meticulous keeper of journals. His notes indicate that he had developed a theory which he would later expand into book form. Thompson believed that illness should be treated gradually. He also had come to the conclusion that as diseases developed from small beginnings, it was likewise logical to treat them the same way—with small doses, later progressing to larger doses. This developed from the theories prominent among other homeopathic professionals of Thompson’s era. By the mid-1880s, nerve foods, of which Moxie was just one of many, had become popular with readers of newspapers and other advertising periodicals.

Moxie’s growing popularity necessitated that Thompson eventually would be forced to give up his lucrative medical practice and devote himself fulltime to merchandising his nerve food.

In 1888 and early 1889, Moxie was on its way to being a prosperous product, with Thompson receiving a regular $100 per month salary. The product established extensive distribution channels, with beachheads in major urban areas like Cleveland, Ohio and George Walker’s Western Moxie Nerve Food Company, in Chicago. Walker’s Moxie Bottle Wagon helped make Moxie one of the most popular beverages in the American West.

As salesman fanned out over the Midwest, they often handed aluminum tokens that read, “Good for one drink of Moxie at the Moxie Bottle Wagon.” These tokens had the image of the single-horse Moxie Bottle Wagon stamped on Because these tokens were quite elegant and shiny, a practice developed where young girls and older ladies would punch a hole in the token, loop a chain or decorative cord through them, and wear these coins as pendants. On the other hand, men and boys saw them as good-luck pieces, so they often ended up in drawers, instead of being handed to the Bottle Wagon drivers for a free drink of Moxie. As a result, many of these continue to be discovered and are a coveted Moxie collectible.

The Moxie Bottle Wagons traveled from town to town and were an effective advertising tool for Moxie. From an article that ran in Yankee Magazine, in August, 1969 titled “The Moxie Man,” Edna Hills Humphrey wrote how her father, Charles E. Hills, who as a Dartmouth medical student, spent one summer vacation driving one of the Moxie Bottle Wagons around New England, “experiencing all the joys and passions of a young man out on his own.”

Thompson possessed the skills of entrepreneur and his passion and creativity around promotion helped his drink’s popularity rise upward. Despite the success he was seeing with the drink, he missed his medical practice and in 1889, reestablished a practice in Lowell, specializing in homeopathic medicine and surgery.

Around this time, William Taylor, an active Moxie agent in upstate New York, entered into an agreement with Thompson. Taylor’s success with Moxie had allowed him to establish his own trading company, William Taylor & Company, and he became a lessee of The Moxie Nerve Food Company, within Massachusetts, taking over for Thompson. Thompson would receive $5,000 per year from this arrangement, and acquired the title of general manager of Taylor’s company.

During the 1890s, William Taylor & Company added new products to their roster, such as Moxie Lozenges, Moxie Catarrh Cure, Dr. Thompson’s Condensed Medicated Wafers, Moxie Syrup, and Moxie Cerealina. Moxie continued to expand westward, opening bottling operations in St. Louis and then; Kansas City, Missouri.

By 1892, a reorganization of the Moxie empire was under way. The activities of William Taylor & Co. were being curtailed and a new firm was established, at a meeting in Saco, Maine, on December 26, 1892.

The Moxie Nerve Food Company of New England was established, with offices in Boston and Lowell. Later, the Moxie Nerve Food Company of Illinois was created and operated for the next decade, before dissolving in June of 1901.

Dr. Thompson’s rich and prolific life had entered its twilight. Over the last decade of his life, he continued writing plays, advertisements for Moxie, and a series of letters to newspaper editors, covering topics from geography, economics, the law, and his favorite topic—politics. Thompson became quite interested and involved in the Free Silver movement, which dominated the McKinley-Bryan presidential campaign of 1896.

Thompson continued to weigh in on subjects such as the Spanish-American War (he was in favor of swift and decisive action by the Americans) and the importance of the U.S. expanding its empire, by taking the Philippine Islands.

On November 17, 1902, Thompson sought copyright for a 114-page book, The Origin and Continuance of Life: Together with the Development of a System of Medical Administration on the Law of the Similars, from a Discovery of its Principles in the Law of Natural Affinities.

The book contained an illustration of a new invention, the Thompson Vitalizer, which was a contraption consisting of tanks of compressed gases, tubes, and other related apparatus. Thompson envisioned a series of parlors, up and down the east coast.

Thompson passed away, June 8, 1903, at the age of 67.

 

Copyright © 2008 by Jim Baumer

Leave a comment

Filed under Book project; Moxietown; RiverVision Press

RiverVision Press announces details about “Moxietown”

RiverVision Press will be releasing Moxietown, Jim Baumer’s follow-up to his first book, the award-winning When Towns Had Teams.

Moxietown is only the fourth book in the limited canon of books about Moxie, and the first significant release in over 20 years. Drawing upon Frank Potter’s contributions, The Moxie Mystique, as well as The Book of Moxie, and Q. David Bowers 700 page The Moxie Encyclopedia, Volume I, Baumer updates the Moxie story, and places it squarely in the small central Maine town of Lisbon Falls, where he grew up.

width=
[The Moxie Man and I having fun during a recent photo shoot (GGoodman photo)]

href=”https://jbaumer.files.wordpress.com/2008/05/photo-8-the-two-authors-2004.jpg”>width=
[The author meets Frank Potter for the first time, Moxie Fest, 2004 (MBaumer photo)]

RiverVision will be releasing Moxietown at the 25th anniversary of the Moxie Festival, in Lisbon Falls, on Saturday, July 12th. This will be a limited, commemorative pressing of less than 500 books. Once the book is sold out, RiverVision has no plans to reprint this unique, local take on Moxie, by a Lisbon Falls native.

The book will feature the first condensed history of the drink (in less than 5,000 words), concisely capturing all the elements of Moxie’s nearly 125 year history, including the story of marketing genius, Frank Archer, the reason that we still have Moxie available today.

Additionally, Baumer details for the first time why Lisbon Falls has achieved Moxie prominence, and why over 20,000 people descend on the community every second weekend in July to celebrate all things Moxie.

RiverVision Press will be taking pre-orders for the book at the end of May, for those who want to ensure that they are able to acquire a copy. This can be done by visiting the RiverVision Press website, or via snail mail at RiverVision Press, P.O. Box 1136, Lewiston, Maine 04243-1136.

The 100 page book, with photos will be $8.95. Mail orders should include $4.00 to cover P/H.

Leave a comment

Filed under Book project; Moxietown; RiverVision Press

A Book Excerpt

[The following is a draft excerpt taken from a chapter on the late Maine writer, John Gould, from Moxie Matters: Life’s Beginnings in a Small Maine Town (RiverVision Press, 2008), the upcoming new book by Maine author, Jim Baumer.]

It’s fitting that John Gould’s first book would be about a venerable Yankee institution—the annual town meeting. This system of governance first originated during the period when Maine was a district of Massachusetts. Many communities operate under the town meeting form of government or a modified version of it. In Maine, the annual town meeting is traditionally held in March, or “mud season” as it was once known. 

Prior to the book’s publication, there hadn’t been a book entirely devoted to the idiosyncrasies of the New England town meeting. Certainly, there had been accounts of meetings, in various locations, most notably in various town histories.


New England Town Meeting: Safeguard of Democracy came out in 1940, during “town meeting time,” as the opening page indicates. In the book, Gould chronicles the goings-and-comings of town meeting day in five communities—Freeport, Durham, Harpswell, Topsham, and Brunswick.Almost seventy years ago, town meeting took up the entire day and involved the whole family. The day started, just after chores and in some communities, the moderator was chosen the morning of (Gould notes in some instances, “as early as six-thirty) the meeting.

 

Gould brought the sensibilities of a newspaperman to his task of capturing the regional flavor of the five towns and their various meetings. In fact, it was an undertaking that he did for the Lewiston Journal Magazine, two years prior that convinced him that a book length treatment was warranted.The order of the day, in the early 40s had balloting occurring in the morning, then dinner was served, followed by appropriations in the afternoon, supper at six and the day culminated with the Town Meeting dance, in the evening.Towns in New England differ from municipalities anywhere else in the country. This is because, according to Gould, “citizens are supreme in all matters entrusted to them by the general laws, and so long as matters run smoothly they are answerable to no higher authority than themselves.”

In each community still utilizing a town meeting form of government, the Board of Selectmen is in charge. This originated from the days when a group of leading men of the town were “selected” to handle the business and matters of town governance.

The bible of the annual town meeting is the town report, which is compiled from the Selectmen’s reports. Gould wrote that “the basis of competent Town Meeting action is a thorough knowledge of Town Report and New Englanders practically memorize it.”

Much of Gould’s first book, one of many to come, is apt to be viewed today as merely a nostalgia piece. That would be a mistake. By capturing the events and the import that the day represented to communities in the state, the book will serve as a yellowing snapshot from the past, to future historians, of the what and how of democracy, long after most of its vestiges have disappeared.

Gould’s book is a literary still-life, much like a Rockwell paintings. Like The Four Freedoms, and in particular Freedom of Speech, Gould’s pen, like Rockwell’s paintbrush, captures people being good. Additionally, the abundant photos, of men, women and even children that are included in New England Town Meeting create the perfect compliment to Gould’s simple rendering of town meeting. When I first glanced at the photos in the book, Rockwell immediately sprang to mind. This was because Gould’s subjects, like Rockwell’s man, standing at town meeting, perfectly represent their subject matter. Rockwell’s nod to free speech is captured in his subject. The man, standing before his peers, is obviously from Yankee working stock, as his attire indicates. Clad in a flannel shirt, worn under his tattered jacket, annual report folded and sticking out of his pocket, he is standing up, is ready to make his point, while his neighbors and others that know him, anxiously await. Anyone who ever stood up at town meeting, in front of God and his fellow townsfolk, heart pounding, identifies experientially with the painting. Having attended my share of town meetings, during nearly 20 years in Durham, Gould’s rendering of the day resonated with me.

Reading Gould’s accounts of the farmers, “hurrying their chores,” voters “dribbling in” all morning to vote and recognizing that when he writes that “by Noon the Town will be assembled,” in 1940, he was being literal—citizens took their duties seriously. Setting the course of the town for another year was much more important than trips to the mall, snowmobiling up north, or sleeping until noon. And once again, this isn’t nostalgia, as the sociological research backs up these accounts, as Americans were engaged with town meeting in a way that has disappeared, even in those communities where this form of government is still utilized, at least in form, if not necessarily practice.

In our harried world, where technology reigns supreme, it probably sounds like madness to think about giving up an entire day to transact democracy in it most sufficient form. The format of governance that Gould captures, particularly as he writes about taking a minute or two to cast one’s ballot and then, having “no further duty until afternoon,” leaving “the shank of the morning for talk,” must seem foreign to all but a few today, who rarely even know their neighbors. The thought of interacting on issues related to how tax dollars will be spent should seem appealing, particularly given the furor about taxes exhibited by most in our state. On further consideration, sophisticated types in the 21st century much prefer the superiority of anonymous comments and internet chatter, rather than engaging in a face-to-face with fellow citizens. It’s much easier to malign and excoriate when there’s no risk involved.

2 Comments

Filed under Book project; publishing, Iconic Mainers, When Moxie Comes To Town

Winter essay

Now Embracing Winter Warmly  

Winter is a weather reality for most of us who live in North America. While the extremes and severity of said weather vary, depending on the latitudinal coordinate where you reside, it amazes me how much more people complain these days about the cold, snow and even road conditions.

Maybe this form of amnesia about the verisimilitude of winter’s ways is tied to our hubris, born from the post-modern belief that technology trumps everything else, including weather. It might also be fueled by local media outlets, in their newfound quest to entertain, rather than educate. Nothing makes greater theater than a winter storm. From the opening strains of the dark and sinister “storm center” music, to incessant live reports from the turnpike, the airport and other locations out and about. Does it ever occur to anyone, anymore, that it snows in the winter?

I’ve been a resident of the Northeastern United Stated for most of my 45 years. I remember the significant snows of the late 1960s and early 1970s. It was 1978, in fact, when New England experienced one of her most severe winter storms. This “storm of the century” brought continuous snow for 33 hours, three times the duration of your typical Northeaster. Over 3,500 cars had to be abandoned on highways and interstates, in and around Boston. Numerous coastal homes along the New England shoreline, and as far south as Long Island, washed into the sea.

In the 1980s, I left the parochial ways of New England and made my way to the Midwest, settling along the shores of Lake Michigan, living in northwest Indiana during that time. I had no idea that this region, like other places tucked up tight to one of the Great Lakes, can experience lake effect snows and storms that rival anything New England can dish out, in the way of winter wantonness. One particular storm that occurred in 1984, brought snow and strong winds, causing whiteouts and drifting snow piled 12-15 feet high. As a result, many major routes, including the Indiana Tollway, which is one of the nation’s major trucking corridors, was closed for nearly a day, bringing commerce and shipping to a standstill.

Back home in the Northeast, we’ve not experienced the decade-long patterns of snowfall and severe cold that were more common 25 to 30 years ago. This often gets attributed to climate change. Without getting into the politics of global warming, it does appear true that our winters have gotten milder and not quite as severe. Despite an alteration in traditional patterns, we still have our snow and stretches of sub-arctic temperatures, when the mercury rarely comes close to constituting a thaw. In fact, 10 years ago this January, the northeast, from New England to New York and large portions of eastern Canada was shut down by the Great Ice Storm of ’98. Residents were without power for as long as a month, as the electrical grid and power infrastructure was severely affected by a thick sheet of ice.

Despite growing up during a time when children played out during the winter months, enjoying the snow and all its activities, like many adults, I had acquired a dread and dislike for the four months of winter. I even began contemplating moving to a warmer climate, so I no longer had to deal with sub-freezing weather and all its attendant issues.

Something changed for me, three winters ago, however. It was during the winter of 2004-2005, when I was working out of my home and working on the manuscript of my first book. During that winter, I’d rise early, before dawn and grind out 15-20 pages of my manuscript. Fueled by coffee, classical music in the background and the crackle coming from my wood stove, winter took on a new significance for me.

January and February that year brought significant enough snowfalls to support daily jaunts through the woods on my x-country skis. By noon each day, my trusty Sheltie, Bernie, would rise and shake himself from his slumber. This was my signal to wrap up my writing for the day and strap my skis on. Off the two of us would trek, behind my home, through the pine forests and along ancient rock walls, formed by farmers who had come to New England to try to grow something in our boulder-strewn soil. Nearly every day for close to two months, that became our routine. Amazingly, the dread of winter had been shaken from my bones by my newfound appreciation for the beauty that can only come from the afternoon sun reflected on a winter snow pack. The only sound most of my time weaving amongst the trees and trails was the swish of the skis cutting through white powder and Bernie’s occasional barks at smells and fresh tracks laid by rabbits and deer.

From the former darkness that had been winter in my own mind, came a finished manuscript that would become an award-winning book. Even better was the acquisition of a new appreciation for the ebb and flow of the four seasons.

No longer was winter the season that I had come to dread. Gone was its season of hibernation, weight gain and lethargy, all too often fueled by television and a bit too much beer. Now, winter’s become the time of year to get things done that often get crowded out during summer’s longer days, gardening, Saturday’s by the seashore and home repairs. It also became a time of fitness and physical renewal, with fitness taking on new variety, with the likes of x-country skiing, snow shoeing and even the incessant shoveling that comes from country living.

Fret about the next patch of frightful weather if you want. Or, you can hearken back to those who came before us, back before television, laptops and iPods. These pioneers are now my role models for dealing with life’s hardships, teaching me preparation, a touch of creativity and a solid dose of stoicism thrown in for good measure.

And guess what? Winter never felt better to me.

X-country path

1 Comment

Filed under Essays

New Book On The Way

Book number two is on the way. Well, at least I’ve started the process of outlining my ideas and I have a general sense of what the book will be about and have even pegged a timeframe for release (which I’ll continue to remain mum about until I’m further along).

Here’s just a little tease—the book will be about Maine and will center on life in a small town.

 

I’ve come through a tough summer of publishing, releasing someone else’s book, which hasn’t done very well. Additionally, other issues have surfaced and I’ve begun rethinking whether, or not, I want to publish other people’s material. For the time being, I’m going to focus on getting back to what I love to do, which is write. By doing this, I’ll have another book of my own in the not-too-distant future.

 

Today was a great day. For the first time in a long while, I sat down and wrote for over an hour, with the words flowing forth effortlessly from my fingertips. Like times in the past, the words came easy and writing seemed to be the only thing that mattered at that moment.

 

Beginning the first of 2008, you’ll begin finding draft portions of my new book appearing here at Words at Work. My goal is to release several chapters online, before the book comes out.

 

Stay tuned!

Leave a comment

Filed under Book project; publishing

An idea worth running with?

How do you know when you have a project worth moving forward with? With my first book, When Towns Had Teams, it was clear to me that the idea was a novel one and that no one had ever down anything quite like it.

 

With the next one, there seems to be a lot more second guessing and reevaluation taking place than ever went on three years ago, when I shifted into research mode.

 

Interestingly, as I sit here on the couch, hammering away at the laptop, this is the first time I’ve had any sustained creative energy around writing, for a good month. While I’ve maintained my blogging activities at Words Matter, it has been more out of a sense of duty, than a real desire to say something new, or offer my own thoughts on matters at hand. When it came to getting started on a new book project, I never seemed able to narrow my topics down enough to even begin thinking about building writing momentum. I think part of this was associated with self-preservation—no one in their right mind wants to undertake the type of labor-intensive research that accompanies my style of non-fiction writing.

 

Have I turned the corner and uncovered a new idea for a book? Oddly, the title came to me while eating a bowl of soup and it was actually a subtitle idea that sounded interesting that had me running for a pen and notebook to scribble down a few thoughts and begin sketching out a tentative framework.

 

Cautiously optimistic, I am sensing that I have an idea that I can run with. It’s connected to a deep-seated interest in the preservation of place that I hold. The idea also lends itself well to a geographical ordering of the research, which is comforting, seeing that When Towns Had Teams was ordered in a similar way.

 

I’ll have more to write about this, I hope, over the coming month, or more.

Leave a comment

Filed under Book project; writing craft