Writing an Afterword
You would think it is not too tough to write a brief Afterword to a book you wrote some years ago. It doesn’t have to be too long. In fact, the representative of the printing company I use, Sheridan Printing Company, located in Michigan, said 3,000 words would be just about right. At approximately 300 words a page, that is only about 10 pages, and my book was just over 200 pages. So, I knew I could whip this out in no time.
I sat down at the computer and began to start…nothing came…nothing. I had not figured out what to say. My book, Flame-Out, From Prosecuting Jeffrey MacDonald to Serving Time to Serving Tables, was first published in 2000, and though it has been through a total of three printings, it still had been over ten years since I last put pen to paper and talked about the life changing events that had taken place in my life some years before.
I had no plan. So writing any words, much less 3,000 was going to be difficult. I got up from the computer, shut it down, and just tried to think what was the purpose of an Afterword any way. Why do people write them in books that are old? I knew the immediate answer to that. A new Afterword gives the book a new life, new relevancy, and maybe someone will buy it. But, still about what?
Slowly, it came to me that I needed to write about some of the people I have met these last years while making speeches and holding seminars about life, ethics, issues of mental health and just surviving adversity. I wanted to write about someone other than myself. I wanted to tell other peoples’ stories. As I started writing again, it came easily to me. I remembered a young lady, who is no longer here, and the ravages of depression and mental illness, the mother whose daughter was in a terrible car accident but lived, though she no longer speaks and has not done so since December, 1993, the young teenage boys, standing in front of a sentencing Judge on charges of under age drinking and stuggling to tell the truth, and of course the wisdom I learned not that long ago from the writings of Robert Frost, that “the shortest way out is through”.
I finished the Afterword. It soon will be printed and published. But it isn’t 3,000 words. It is over 4,000.