Thrill of Authorship

January 10, 2009

I worked on a book about a world-famous rodeo for 18 months with another writer, Ann Terry Hill. I also did extensive digging for old photographs. Recreating events from decades ago based on historical research was exhilarating. Nothing motivates me like the thrill of the hunt for hard-to-unearth information.

At the outset, most of what I knew about rodeos I learned from TV as a kid. The deeper into the project I went, the more I was moved by the triumphs and travails of cowboys, cowgirls, and Indians — notably those in the early part of the last century.

For the last few days, I’ve read page proofs of the book with Terry and my deft-touch editor, Karen Kirtley. Seeing the stories married with exquisite photographs, I realized how good Pendleton Round-Up at 100 is.

Then on Friday I received a link to the Amazon page featuring the book, now available for pre-order. I saw my name on the cover. It felt overwhelmingly good — better than I’d imagined.

Pride is usually a trap. Whether it’s ensnared me or not is an open question. But I’m not ashamed to say that I’m proud of being the first in my family to author a book. I’m more proud that I’ve contributed to something that will endure, bringing to light and preserving events and lives important to Northwest history.

The book publishes in July, and some intriguing work related to the book is already presenting itself.

I could have never guessed that me, a Southerner not by birth but upbringing, would become an expert on an Oregon rodeo. Life is strange but invariably rewarding if open to possibilities.