My other damn book(s)… and, belatedly, Beth

In keeping with Dave Winer’s ( occasional reminders to write things outside of Facebook, where non-facebookers can read them, and taking inspiration from Stephen T Wishnevsky (, I may be writing another book.

Its title and contents are evolving, but this page may be the start of the introduction.

Wishnevsky’s volumes, “How the Hippies Ruin’t Hillbilly Music” and “Write Your Own Damn Book” (both available on Kindle or in paperback) have been a major inspiration. I have recommended “How the Hippies…” so often on Facebook and in messages to friends that my smartphone now recognizes “Ruin’t” as a correct spelling.

The other inspiration, sad and wonderful, was picking a handful of earth last month from the bucket at my friend Beth Wellington’s graveside to sprinkle down onto her coffin. She was Jewish, but the bucket was utilitarian… an accidental pun I like to think would make her laugh… The bucket was orange plastic with bold letters that said “Let’s Do This,” like a message from Beth instead of Home Depot. Or was it white with orange letters? Have I forgotten already? Did it have an exclamation point at the end? I am getting old.

Beth had survived two broken legs and a broken shoulder, run down in the crosswalk in December 2014 while bringing home groceries, with surgery and three months of hospitalization. Home and using a walker, she kept doing everything… Cooking, helping organizations, going to concerts and contradances, even if she couldn’t dance the way she used to, and writing… She used an all-terrain walker to get across downtown Blacksburg to the University Library to use its computers.

After a newspaper she worked for folded, around the time I moved to the area 10 years ago, she wrote in a variety of places … her blog ( and for the Guardian and elsewhere, as listed on her Linked-In page, perhaps her most detailed professional autobiography in outline form. I am sorry that she did not get to write her book. I wonder if she had one in progress. We may never know, because she left us without warning or hospitalization, at home, independently, from a blood clot or a stroke or something. She had suffered enough with hospitals, nursing homes and rehab after that accident.

Anyhow, this train of thought began with something that I wrote in a Facebook discussion today, one that also sent me off to rewrite part of the Wikipedia definition of “Bluegrass,” which had left Bill Monroe out of the first paragraph. The bluegrass discussion brought a comment from Wishnevsky on Facebook, so I digressed into recommending his books…

… I really meant the “inspiring” part.. Even before I finished it, reading “Write Your Own Damn Book” got me started on mine, tentatively titled “How I wrote four damn books, and why you haven’t read them” … but the title is a problem, since the fourth book isn’t finished (and may be better suited to remain in its current online-only multimedia status), so “How I wrote…” could be the fifth, and I have two or three others in mind, so I wonder whether I should save “How I wrote…” until they are all done…

That would be difficult since at least one of them, maybe two, should only be published posthumously. And maybe they should only be written that way.

The potentially controversial (sensationalized & exaggerated) two are tentatively titled, “How We Killed the Newspaper” and “I Got a Girl Scout in Trouble (Me Too).”

Time to stop wasting time on Facebook and get back to the typewriter… by which I mean a computer with a more typewriter-like interface than this Smartphone where I compose almost everything with voice to text these days.

The above has been updated and edited a bit from what I said on Facebook… Anyway, thanks to all of the above inspiration, in the coming weeks I plan to do more Thinking Out Loud here in this mostly-neglected-since-retirement blog.

Maybe the ultimate title should be “How I wrote seven damn books…”

That number seven has a nice “marketing” feel to it. Maybe I should settle for “How I wrote seven damn book titles“? Sounds like an autobiography about attention deficit disorder, doesn’t it? That would not be inappropriate.

The somewhat false advertising of this whole thing is that the first “three books” are of the academic thesis variety, and exist on my bookshelf and on the bookshelves of two or three College libraries, and that is about it.

Part of the story of book five or six or seven would be explaining why I never attempted to have any of the other three published more widely. For now, let’s just say I had reasons.

And, if I don’t get around to writing anything but more blog posts and Facebook notes, perhaps that will be enough to inspire someone else to keep writing after they see this little essay. And, having noticed that her own LinkedIn page is as close as Beth Wellington got to a public obituary, I will have to go update mine one of these days. My LinkedIn page, that is.



mild-mannered reporter who found computers & the Web in grad school in the 1980s (Wesleyan) and '90s (UNC); taught journalism, media studies, Web production; retired to write, make music, photograph sunsets & walks in the woods.

Posted in 2018, biography, jheroes, Journalism, Memorial, personal, Stepno, storytelling, WordPress, writing

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