Both of my mentors, Erik Larsen and David McCullough, say the research is the funnest part. It is. Well, maybe. I reserve the right to switch to saying it’s the launch or the royalties, but in my case the launch of my own first hard-won book title will be a serious thrill, after helping so many others create books of their own. Anyway, on my list of rare books is a set by Rusk, who apparently did the most thorough job about a hundred years ago of compiling letters and journal writings of Emerson. The more popular books on Emerson today offer broad views and some go pretty deep, but Rusk evidently had a somewhat unabridged collection that included the days I’m writing about, when Emerson was 23 in 1827, and all through his time just before, during, and after his few months in St. Augustine, Florida. I couldn’t find Rusk’s series anywhere–Even on eBay the volume I needed (Volume One) was not to be had.
Then, while traveling with my wife and daughter through Columbia, South Carolina, for an exotic pet show (they sell hand-made “dragon wings,” www.DragonWingsandThings.com), I found parking (the first good omen) and hoofed it to the University of South Carolina’s main library, where I FOUND THE RUSK SET IN FULL. Maybe I’m a real geek, but my heart raced. As I pulled books from the shelf and made a pile to take, crack open, and photograph, I felt like I was up to no good, but that’s what libraries are for (research, not “no good”)! It was pure heaven, honestly. And I have my first chunk of “traveling research” performed. That has to count, somewhere along the road to becoming an author of historical fact, right?
The icing on the cake was strolling through the State House and grounds, all before my meter expired.
Love your work!