I have begun researching what will probably be my last book. It is based on the incredible photograph my niece discovered during her extensive research into our family history. The photograph is of a distant cousin whose branch in the family tree is a healthy climb up from the one on which I perch.
His name was Isaac Herbert Boas and he lived his entire life in Australia. Apparently he was an awesome Aussie. He was a chemist by trade, a college professor, scholar, lecturer and subsequently, as a religious leader, played a major role representing the Jewish population of Melbourne and beyond.
But perhaps Isaac Boas’ most significant contribution to his country was paper. No, he did not discover paper, but more importantly, proved that paper could be manufactured with the pulp made from the hardwood trees native to his country. Despite many naysayers early on, Isaac’s discovery led to paper manufacturing eventually becoming one of Australia’s leading industries. Given his many contributing roles to society, Isaac Herbert Boas was pretty much a rock star of his time and in his place…all of which lasted some 76 years, the end of which came in the year I was born halfway around the globe in 1945.
So what’s with this photograph I mentioned? Well, I have featured it before on Marc’s Blog and it is shown again below. Isaac is on the left. That’s me, at about the same age, on the right. It is uncanny how the family genes fell into very specific harmony to produce two distant relatives who appear almost identical.
My immediate response to seeing Isaac’s picture was one of astonishment. After having juxtaposed my picture next to his, the intrigue set in. How uncanny it appeared that we could be bothers, maybe even twins. I immediately sensed the basis of a story…exactly what the story was about was yet to be determined, but most certainly it would deal with the concept of two identical relatives and how their lives eventually played out, obviously with some kind of connection beyond appearance.
I have literally pondered this concept for about a year now and I still have not come up with the story. I have pieces and several ideas, but as far as being able to lay it all out into one concise and amazing piece of literature that says “Pulitzer”…well, that has not happened. In the past when I came upon an idea or concept I would devote considerable think-time to the project and eventually some kind of epiphany would occur and, hence, a book was born. So I’ve been ticking away months of think-time on the “Isaac Project” and still no “wow, I’ve got it!” So what to do?
The words “just do it” keep resonating in my head. Over the weekend I made the decision that that is exactly what I will do. I have enough “stuff” to get the characters established along with locations and even some relationships. So I am going to wing it. I will simply start and see where it takes me. I sometimes use this method, if you can call it that, when I am writing the final chapter of a book. I’ve heard Stephen King say he has written some of his books with no idea how they end until he gets there. Hey, if it’s good enough for Stephen King, it’s certainly good enough for me.
Fact is, most professional writers will advise you to have the entire book outlined, if only in your mind but better on paper, before you place fingers upon keyboard. I am also violating one of Stephen Covey’s respected Seven Habits of Highly Successful People. Despite being the book that so impressed me that I was motivated to go back to school at age 49 to get an MBA, I will be ignoring habit #2: begin with the end in mind.
Okay, I will be breaking just about all the rules, but if I don’t get started…I will never finish. This should be fun, or at least interesting. Come to think of it, when I began writing books over ten years ago, my goal was to simply have fun. I had no expectation of receiving any recognition or selling much of my work. I have, indeed, received some recognition, but as for selling…well, let’s just say I could do better hawking Girl Scout cookies. In the meantime, stay tuned here for updates on whatever it is that I will be doing.