Sunday, December 4, 2022

Now for something completely different

Anthony Zych

I love to write, as you may have noticed. For more than 21 years, I’ve been banging out multiple items per day, every single day, in this space.

What we write here has limited relevance. Post it one day, and by the next it doesn’t really matter because there’s always something new to take its place. I wrote Playmakers in part to create something that would have a little more permanence than the non-stop news cycle.

In 2020, I started messing around with fiction. Yes, I wrote a shitty sci-fi football novel many years ago, which in a weird sort of way led me into this business in the first place. This time around, a combination of some extra free time during the pandemic and a jolt of inspiration got things going.

My dad was a bookmaker in the small town where I grew up. He was connected to a broader crew, and my parents did a very good job of keeping me sheltered from the realities of the things they (not my dad, as far as I ever knew) did.

On the night of my birthday in 2020, I had a very vivid dream about my dad and the things he, and they, may or may not have done back in the 1970s. It gave me an idea for a novel about small-town mob life. I started writing it the next day.

One thing led to another, and I’ve written six novels since then. I’m more than halfway through a seventh. I’ve got a few ideas for No. 8, No. 9, and No. 10. It’s night after night process, with one or two hours of writing and re-writing and editing and re-editing as a way to reset my brain for the next day of constantly thinking and talking and writing about football. I’ll finish one, start another, tinker with a prior one, work on that one, start another one, without any real plan or strategy.

Last December, I wrote a Christmas novel. It was based on an idea that had been rattling around inside my head for more than a decade. Once I sat down and started the hunting and pecking, the words and sentences and paragraphs and chapters flowed. It felt less like I was writing the story and more like the story was writing itself.

So what in the hell do I do with these things? One thing I learned from the Playmakers experience is that, even with a not-too-shabby advance from the publisher, writing books won’t change anyone’s life — with extremely rare exceptions. And while I’d like to eventually cobble together something that people possibly will read and enjoy after I’m dead and gone, I don’t expect or need or even want to make a penny from this hobby that has become part of my daily routine.

The whole idea was to create something that people will read and enjoy. So why not just let people read it, and possibly (if they’re a little drunk) enjoy it?

That’s what I’ll be doing, with the Christmas novel that basically wrote itself last year. Officially, this is a Thanksgiving thank you to everyone who has supported what we do over the years. Unofficially, it’s an experiment to see whether anyone will read this stuff and possibly (if they’re a little drunk) enjoy it.

The book is called On Our Way Home. If you love the holiday season, there’s a decent chance you’ll like it. If you have dealt with the pain of losing a loved one, the story may resonate with you even more.

I’ll post one chapter per day from Thanksgiving through Christmas. It has just enough chapters to fit that 32-day window.

Give it a try. Here’s Chapter One. Whether you like it or not, you’re guaranteed to get your money’s worth. And feel free to get a little drunk before starting it.

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