Friday, September 26, 2008

Guanajuato, Mexico and Book Writing

When we moved to Guanajuato more than five years ago, one of the things I wanted to try was "writing." Some of my "readers" wished I hadn't. One fellow, a gringo, told me to my face that I was a "fourth-rate talentless hack." Just imagine.

Now, I never in my wildest imaginings ever had any sort of delusions about my writing. I had creative writing professors, writer's workshop moderators, professional writers, and even someone who was an editor in an International News Service tell me my writing was worth pursuing and gave two of my books favorable reviews. But, then what do they know anyway, right?

Seriously, I am my own worst critic and have struggled with the face-to-face Gringo comment: "Doug, you hideous hack" comment over last five years. I have contemplated giving up writing, which I am sure would bring great joy to the Gringos in Guanajuato and San Miguel de Allende who not only would throw a party over my never writing again, but would also help me to that final goal by killing me.

I've had genuine, bona fide death threats from these people.

And yet, I still write.

Do I need professional help or what?

An example of my being a glutton for punishment is my newest book:


I began this project as a sort of Swan Song in the Spring of 2006. We had really, truly had the experiences, as I say in the book, of helping not only monolingual Gringos, but also Latinos through the city even though we always seemed to find them clutching maps in their hands. The maps, in my view, are worth less than the paper they are printed on, and only confuse visitors.

Try watching the park signs in Embajadoras that have arrows pointing to nonexistent pathways. There we've managed to be the greatest help to floundering Gringos on the verge of nervous breakdowns or murder or both!

So, I wrote the book...

A travelogue of sorts that, if used with the all-but-worthless map, could be of great help to travelers.

My book gets you around town using landmarks.

I did a "trial balloon" with the book. I printed out galleys and circulated them among visitors to Guanajuato. I got email reports back that not only did the book work but also that never once did a tourist get lost and waste any time trying to find something in the city.

The book will be officially released for Christmas.

If it is a success will I keep writing?

I really don't know. It seems that my target audience, or at least a significant portion of them, have this thing that if they pay for something it gives them the right not only to offer a critical review but also make a personal attack. One lady who read my first book actually posted a comment on threatening to come to Guanajuato, find me, and to hurt me physically. (That first book, by the way, in its first three year's run, paid the rent and light bill for us.)

Is it worth it all? I just don't know.


A WALK THROUGH MEXICO'S CROWN JEWEL: A Guanajuato Travelogue; Doug Bower; 2008; Unlimited Publishing

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