I used to put just about anything here. I tried to stay true to the blog’s subtitle, Reflections about Life…, but for the most part I saw this site as a big blank sketch pad for experimental, unfinished thoughts. Then I received notices from WordPress that a few people followed me here! Thanks to all of you for your interest! Every writer digs an audience. And I suppose every audience digs a writer who actually writes.
That’s the difficulty, though. Knowing that people actually come here to see something, makes it harder to say something. It’s like getting up on a stage to find yourself tongue-tied. You’re better off with an empty theater! If you know that no one’s out there, you can say whatever you want.
I’ll say I don’t find myself tongue-tied over at The Jeffersonian. That’s my political blog. The subtitle for The Jeffersonian is A Journal of Democracy and Current Affairs. I like to think about politics, so the subject matter of that blog is on my mind a lot. If anything, my problem over there is I have too much to say, not too little. I see the general significance of daily events, and I want to influence the general direction of discussion about various issues related to democracy.
The story over here at Conversations, you can readily see, is not the same. I used to think, well, anything that doesn’t belong over at TJ can go here. Then I thought, when a few people showed interest in what’s posted here, “These posts have to be good!” That’s not so likely, though, because generally I haven’t thought about the things I write about here so much. If I’ve thought about it a lot, the thoughts likely belong over at TJ.
Nevertheless, this alternate outlet needs to exist. Plus it’s easy to overestimate the number of readers at Conversations. I’m happy to have some people in the seats – otherwise I could just keep a private journal. Putting your thoughts in a blog helps to keep you at your best, or at least better than you might be when your thoughts are entirely private.
So that was a pretty long warm-up. Tonight I’d like to write about which way to go for the next writing project. The last writing project, Infamy, required almost four years to complete. It’s about two political crimes: Jack Kennedy’s assassination and 9/11. I know I should see if I can’t promote that book, but I don’t think that will happen. When I finish one project, I just want to continue to the next one. Book promotion is not the same as actual writing. Since I know I won’t make my living writing books – that is, writing books is a hobby – the incentives point toward more writing and less promotion.
That brings us back to the current situation, which is, what to write about next? Two possibilities have presented themselves. The first is a memoir. That could be fun to write, if the work is framed properly. The other possibility is a story about a third political crime, one that has received a lot less attention over the years than 9/11 or JFK’s death. That crime is the death of Jack’s brother, Bobby.
It seems at first that would not be such a difficult decision. If you like to write about politics, wouldn’t you want to write about Bobby Kennedy? A lot more people might be interested in that subject. Who, by contrast, would be interested in me? Who wants to hear my thoughts about life? My grandchildren and great-grandchildren, that’s who. If I want to talk with them, I can dabble around with other kinds of writing for that. I don’t have to write a whole book.
The thought of writing about another political crime makes me think I may be tired of writing about such serious stuff. The TJ articles are serious. Out of those grow longer works like Infamy. Bobby Kennedy’s Untold Story wouldn’t even have roots in TJ, though. It would have to be a work of political fiction. I could put pieces of it here in Conversations, the place for experimental work. I don’t believe many of my audience over at TJ would come to this blog. Would the story have any readers?
Here is how I came to this project, or how this project came to me. I have a friend from high school who, like most of us, did not have the life she expected. I don’t even know what she expected, but it could not have been what actually happened. Somehow or other, she became involved with a man named David Silvey. David Silvey’s story, from his own telling, is almost unbelievably sordid. Usually when we say someone’s life has been sordid, we suggest responsibility for that quality lies with the subject: the person who lived a sordid life. In Silvey’s case, sordidness seemed to follow him. He could not shake it.
Bobby Kennedy’s untold story involves the confluence of three significant threads in our country’s history. First is the CIA’s effort to create assassins and other agents through mind control techniques we know from The Manchurian Candidate. Second is the assassination of Bobby Kennedy at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, in June 1968. The third thread involves the Zodiac killer, an unsolved series of murders in California that occurred in 1969. The Zodiac killer’s first victim was Darlene Ferrin, Sirhan Sirhan’s handler.
Any one of these threads makes a good book. We have good, well researched accounts about how Bobby Kennedy died. We know more than we’d like to know about the CIA’s MK-ULTRA, the amazingly criminal program developed to create agents programmed to follow the intelligence agency’s instructions. Lastly, we have good basic accounts of the unsolved Zodiac murders, though these tend to drift toward the sensational Manson killings, which occurred around the same time. Only one book brings all three apparently separate stories together: David Silvey’s Project Artichoke.
So which do you think would be the more interesting project: a book about my philosophy of life, disguised as a guide to playing FreeCell and chess, or a book about Bobby’s assassination, its precursors and its aftermath? If you count the number of words devoted to the second possibility in this article, I suppose you can feel which direction the breeze blows tonight. I wonder if these thoughts will stick. You wonder whether your choice is the best one, whenever God places a decision in front of you that requires a commitment, and that’s not part of your daily routine.
I think this post may break the ice. If I can write about all three threads in one place, that’s all I have to do. After that the rest ought to come easily, don’t you think?