html xmlns="" xml:lang="en" lang="en"> From the archives: Also? You guys are here like six times a day. You might trust me to be able to tell a story.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Also? You guys are here like six times a day. You might trust me to be able to tell a story.

To those of you who recommend against a book on the sewers of Los Osos:
All the sensible advice in the world isn’t going to matter; I’ve done virtually no work on it, but I can tell that I am going to have to write this book. There’s a process I go through every time something like this comes to me. It isn’t like I woke up one day and decided that it would be totally fun to paint the inside of my house in seven different colors, each wall, ceiling and trim piece different. I didn’t want to get into a paint job that took me three years and several hundred hours to finish. It was just that I saw a picture in a magazine that looked neat. Then I saw that all of the colors on my mug looked good together, even though there were so many of them. Then it occurred to me that I don’t like white walls. Then I got an image of what it could look like, but rejected it as way too much trouble. Then the image kept recurring and I would change it up and refine it. Then I’d be driving to school and lists would come to me, of the equipment needed to do the job. I involuntarily started to visualize moving furniture out of the room, prepping the walls and painting. And you know what? I’ll just visualize the process again and again, in all my unoccupied moments. If I hold out and don’t get started, I will visualize the process so often that I get ridiculously bored of it. The only way to stop the loop is to start actually doing it. I have learned to give in early.

This has been calling me for a couple months now. I have never thought of myself as an author or wanted to see my name on a book. But I am intensely curious about Los Osos. Right now I feel like I could never hear that story too many times, or from too many angles. As I ride home from work, I’ve started to hear my inner voice telling me that I should label some empty binders with different related topics. I’ve begun to think of people I know in the area and who I could stay with when I visit. Yesterday I wondered what resources the California State Library has; they’re only a block away. I can be scared of this or wonder how it will divert me, but I know for sure that it will ride me until I do it.

To those of you who suggest taking one or another angle on the sewers of Los Osos:
I can make all the plans and decisions in the world now about how to tell that story, but since I’ve barely started, I’m sure they will be wrong. I’ll head down there soon and start talking to people. I’ll make a plan then. It will also be wrong, and I won’t realize that for another year. But I am surely not ready to start thinking of themes yet.

And to those of you who don’t believe that people want to read technical pieces about infrastructure? You needn’t be so worried. I also have a law degree. I am just as fascinated by the authority and jurisdiction of special districts. I can totally mix it up.


Anonymous DavidC said...

You hear voices in your head, telling you to... write a book.

Go for it. It could be worse, right?

Anyway, you make the Los Osos story sound perversely compelling in your posts. I bet it'll be cool.

2:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You could interweave Los Osos with how *everyone's* sewer bill is going to go up in California in the next few years, no matter where you live. If you live in a larger city, you won't feel it much, but the smaller the town, the higher the sewer bill will go. Don't use flea shampoo with Lindane in your houses folks, it goes straight through the treatment process! Ok, I'm done.
-Mel (unfortunately, a wastewater engineer, and can we please call it a wastewater collection system? ;)

3:36 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

David C.:
Sometimes they tell me to paint my house.

4:18 PM  
Anonymous justus said...

And the next monomania is finally revealed. I had my money on bike nazi, FWIW.

5:11 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

Word. Sports monomania is still up for grabs.

6:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love the way americans use the word 'totally' !
Megan, look forward to reading it.
(be sure to include lots of pictures)

Bill O.

12:29 AM  
Anonymous hamilton said...

It sounds neat, and would probably be really helpful to teachers/professors of classes where the rest of the material is dry.

Oh yeah-- "The Sewers of Los Osos" sounds like a noir crime drama. And based on your posts, perhaps it is, in its own way.

6:07 AM  
Anonymous thelonious_nick said...

For your book, I'm picturing something like John McPhee's "Control of Nature." As a non-engineer, I don't know if mentioning that book is so obvious as to be laughable, so written for the layman as to be useless for your purposes, or perhaps obscure to those outside the humanities. In any case, I found it to be a book that not only explains technical, engineering-type matters in a way completely understandable to the average person, but even does a good job communicating the passion that engineers feel for their jobs and why they feel it. It might give you an idea of how to go about your own project.

6:54 AM  
Anonymous jens said...

Let's see..."The sewers of Los Osos: the viewpoint of a water engineer" does NOT strike me as a topic likely to engage the masses. It wouldn't engage even ME if I did not know what a good writer you were.

I'd buy it if reasonably priced, but you'd need some good promotions to generate interest. Of course, getting a review on MR would probably be a shoo-in.

7:34 AM  
Blogger Megan said...

I LOVED Control of Nature. But I'm thinking more of Lisa Belkin's Show Me a Hero. Either comparison is a lot of big talk for an imaginary book.

7:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

M, imaginary bloggers can become real so can imaginary books. Just believe you can do it. Now, repeat after me:
I can do it
I can do it
I can do it
I must send cheque to Billo

Ho hum, was worth a try...

12:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Perhaps you could frame it like a sports underdog story. Everybody loves that. Oh yeah, if the RWQCB and the CSD did a dance number at the end, that would be great! Oops, maybe I've already turned it into the movie it's destined to be.

2:13 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

2:13 Anonymouse:
You know me personally, don't you?

3:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is a Simpsons episode where Bart cheats on an aptitude test and gets sent to a school for geniuses. He shows up, and the smart kids are able to do word tricks (palindromes and stuff) that he doesn't understand at all. After his first day, he has the following exchange with Homer (who thinks he is really a genius).
HOMER: So, how was it?

BART: Os-os.

HOMER: What?

BART: That's backwards for so-so.

HOMER: Wow. What are you reading there? Comic books? Eh, guess you don't want to overheat the old noggin, eh? Tell you what. To celebrate your first day of genius school, what do you say we go out for a round of frosty chocolate milkshakes?

BART: All righty!
I don't know anything about Los Osos, but there's probably a good dis in there somewhere.

David J. Balan

3:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You could make it a children's book with all these poor tired out septic tanks looking for a hero, and Stu the sewer comes to save the day after duking it out with evil politicians and lawyers. The right illustrator could really bring it to life!

4:13 PM  
Anonymous Mitch said...

The comparison between your blog and the intended book is apt. All you have to do is suggest that you might go on a date with purchasers of the book (this doesn't have to be explicit) and add a flattering dust-jacket photo and the book'll do great. Among a certain demographic. Much like this blog.

Especially since this blog is about universal themes that resonate with everyone, like finding love, and the book will be about universal themes that resonate with everyone, like rural water quality administration. Plus, gripping local politics!

Seriously, I might worry that my sarcasm would be discouraging, but you're clearly fired up for this. I just think that if people who come here six times a day are skeptical about wanting to read something you've written, then that's something to seriously consider.

7:53 AM  
Blogger ScottM said...

I'm currently reading The Death and Life of Great American Cities by Jane Jacobs. She's successful in making sidewalk play interesting; the way she ties it back into the role of streets and districts and organizations formal and informal is a model that might be very useful.

Though your book sounds like it'll be helped by big helpings of crazy.

11:50 AM  
Blogger Megan said...

I've got the crazy on my side for sure. They're doing all the work.

12:06 PM  

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