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Life as performance art

Life as performance art

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By Fr. G. Corwin Stoppel

I just learned to my delight that longtime friend and devoted Saugatuck supporter Henry Gleason has joined the ranks of starving authors. His book “The First 80 Years” has been published.

I haven’t read it yet and am not certain where to buy it, but that will soon change.

Henry, with his late beloved wife Claradine, has been part of Saugatuck for decades and consistently worked to make it a better place.

We are fortunate he decided to write and publish his memoirs. He and Claradine boost-ed the best things in the area and people’s morale as well.

A quick example: When I started writing my first mystery set in Saugatuck, Henry filled me in on some of the history of people that is not in the books. When he wrote a column about the businesses and stores in town, he gave me a copy for background material. More support came when the first mystery came out.

One day when we were sitting on a bench in front of the Star of Saugatuck, Henry gave me a sly smile and said, “You know, you could make me the love interest for that young girl.” I jumped on that one, and later he said he liked the way I included him. That’s only fair; he’s included all of us for decades.

Now, a book. Henry and several others hold “Meanderings” writers’ group meeting in the library from time to time, and we’ve read their resulting essays in The Commercial Record.

Writing “short” is a challenge, but writing a full-length book is a big challenge.

“Everyone loves the idea of being a writer and likes having written,” said Winston Churchill. “But the writing part is the real challenge.”

Writing is one thing; getting published is the next hurdle. Not long ago a newly-minted writer had to send off endless query letters to agents or publishers, wait weeks or months to hear back from them. When he or she finally did, it was usually negative. Trust me, I have enough rejection letters to paper a wall or room.

Now, it is far more democratic with self-publishing. The writing still has to be done, proofread several times over and then fit into the company’s format. The author usually has to select the cover, the font and everything else.

Instead of a year and a half or more, it all comes together more quickly. But wait, there’s more. Publishers distribute and sell books at stores; self-publishers have to sell their work themselves.

Henry did it. Congratulations! Maybe he’ll inspire more long-timers to follow his example. I hope so. I’d love to read stories by the Whites from when they owned the Butler Restaurant, or from R.J. on, well, anything.

Now, just let us know when and where you will have your signing.