I recently made a decision that I was going to write a book. Yes, I know, how many people have said that over the years? I guess you can add me to the growing scrap pile of wannabe authors looking to get into the book writing thing but for me this is more of a personal quest and I think that the time is right to get started on this project. Recently, at my grandmother’s funeral, a highly respected local pastor came up to me afterwards and told me he wanted me to write a book about my family’s restaurant…the same restaurant I wrote an article about a few months ago detailing how much I detested working in the barbecue business….but I told him I would think about it and I did. A day or two later, a good friend who worked in the same building with me called me and told me that she wanted me to write a book and was most persistent about it too. Then I started to think more about it and it occurred to me that with my grandparents both gone now and my mother’s sister as well, that my father was the only person living who had worked for well over thirty years in the business and who knew my grandfather better than any other person except for my mother and that if I wanted to do this, I had better do this now because there is too much uncertainty in life.
My brother has worked in the business since he was twelve years old and has 28 years in now….the older of my two first cousins will have 30 next year and the younger one well over 20…and if you add to that the 4 summers I gave to the cause, there is another large bank of experience to draw on as well. On top of that, there are a lot of people in my hometown that has interesting stories, facts and personal experiences that I hope to draw from and try and weave all this into something readable and interesting. It may never get accepted and it may never get published but at least the story will be told and I will have something to leave to my son and my nephews and my cousin’s children, the descendants of our family.
In thinking about how I wanted to approach this book, it occurred to me that the facts and the events surrounding the restaurant, now in its 82nd year of operation, could probably be summarized in a few pages but to bring the place to life in the eyes of the reader would require something more. To accomplish this, the book will be based on historical fact for certain but I want to flesh it out by painting a backdrop of the world around it, specifically the town of Jackson and the surrounding county which was small, rural and simple during the early years of the story-much like every other small Georgia town during the Great Depression. Since I was nowhere near thought of in 1929 and could not possibly relate a story from a personal perspective of that period, I will have to draw from those who were around then and they are in very short supply but they have children who know the stories as well and I think I will find a rich source of material to mine and glean new information from. While I won’t consider the book a work of fiction, it will have artistic license because of being written this way so think of it as a work of fiction based on historical facts. Anyone who has ever read the books of Michael Shaara and his son Jeff will know what I am talking about. Michael wrote “The Killer Angels” about the battle of Gettysburg and wrote a very personal story about the generals and soldiers on both sides of the Civil War that was based on sound historical facts. Jeff, his son, went on to write similar books about the Civil War, the Mexican War and both World Wars. I, like many people, can absorb a lot more historical fact when there is an entertaining aspect around it and I think by doing it this way, I can present facts through a story and take the reader on a journey through a large part of the twentieth century in a small town. I imagine in much the same way, this book will take me on a journey as well.
The first chapter is mapped out already and I think if it goes well, it will make writing the subsequent chapters easier. Setting the stage is always the most difficult part-after that you get a much clearer idea of where you are going but I am preparing for many detours and maybe a few (hopefully a very few) dead ends. I do hope that it will be fun, meaningful and that I’ll learn a lot on the journey. Keep checking back because I’ll be sure to have more thoughts as this process unfolds!