Playing to a Full House
by Phil Houseal
Dec 4, 2013
April 2013–Finish your book yet?
June 2013–Finish your book yet?
August 2013–Finish your book yet?
September 2013–Finish your book yet?
October 2013–Finish your book yet?
November 21, 2013–Finish your book yet?
Bless my editor Matt Ward’s football and French fry lovin’ heart.
You wouldn’t think finishing a book made up completely of articles you had already written would take much effort. But I was the cobbler; my book was my children; and the words were their shoes. I just couldn’t seem to get them from my workbench onto the children’s feet.
Actually it was more of a challenge to create a decent book than just cut and paste old columns. First, I had to winnow through more than 400 pieces I’d written over 8 years. I loved them all, but was forced to make a Sophie’s choice on which ones languished on old newsprint and which ones merited further publication. I prepared countless outlines, starting with articles on famous folks like Larry Gatlin and Ray Price. Then I went for interesting local characters, from Russ Cox to my “go to” gag–the guy who played the turkey baster.
Once I identified about 70 good columns, I then had to figure out how to place them in chapters that made sense for the reader. This was futile. Anyone who has read my weekly columns knows that although ostensibly about music, the topics range from memories of my road days playing music, to rants about crappy Christmas carols. I considered throwing them in at random, but finally settled on organizing them by the extent of the fame of the subject. I started with national stars, then Texas musicians, then Hill Country people, and finally a few reflections from me, the least-known and least interesting of the lot.
During this process, I threw out another 15 columns, mostly those strange ones about names of songs and bands, and weird, self-referential works. Then, I had to add back in columns as I kept deciding some were worthy, and some were about people who had lots of friends who might decide to buy the book.
Around 60 of my best Full House columns, neatly packaged, logically arranged, complete with a photo for each column wrapped in a nifty full color cover.
All for 16 bucks.
Hope you like it.
Now, I have to start on my next one.
No, it’s not finished yet, Matt.