Book Review: The Drunken Sommelier

The day has come. I wrote a book. I took messy action. And now, that book is real. The pages crisp, the spine unbroken. The cover, signable. For those of you reading this (a few, but a precious few, indeed) who may have advertently or inadvertently swiped your credit card for one of these, they'll be en route very shortly. Thank you. Like, THANK you. No matter how cold and neutral I can be, I'm still human, and we're susceptible to misty moments when we feel like we've really been heard and appreciated. So, thank you. Again.

Now, this is not so much a traditional "book review", per sé (still trying to figure out what that really means). Rather, this is a reflection on some things I went through in the book's production that I thought may be enlightening to pass on for any who might simply be interested or who may be considering writing a book themselves. Let's call it a "behind the scenes", so to speak.

Let's dive in.

I started writing this book on March 25th.

I had 114 pages written within 7 days.

The book is 111 pages long. I think.

I did not include page numbers or a table of contents in the book. I wanted readers to a.) accept it wholly, and b.) get lost in it. I also wanted to make it more difficult to reference in any potentially critical academic studies. Not that I was feeling insecure about its contents or that even a thing?

I learned that the barcode aspect of the book is actually pretty easy to figure out. In Canada, the government will provide you with an ISBN number, and your printer can assign that number to a barcode. This allows the book to be entered into a store's database and scanned for purchase. It's required in order to be sold by a formal retailer. Getting an ISBN number was very easy and free. I thought it would be tricky, annoying, expensive, and challenging. I probably used that false idea as an excuse to not write a book in the past. I won't need to make that excuse again.

It took me about 20 days to have my first manuscript formatted. I thought about publishing it right away. I am glad I did not.

I did not include that legal page at the beginning of this book. I regret that now, upon seeing it in the flesh, but only because I realized that I missed an opportunity to write a long page of official-looking formatted fine print secret content for anyone who actually reads the fine print. Sigh. I guess that will be for the 2nd Edition. Maybe I'll figure out the legal stuff by then. Until that time, it's still a rogue mission.

When I started writing the book, I hadn't started my blog. I've written 5 articles per week since March and really focused my voice in terms of the overarching message of my work. I took some time after I finished my first draft. When I came back to it, I edited each chapter, one by one. I removed a few of them completely. It was amazing how much my tone had changed from the initial burst of getting the book going and writing like a maniac with 10 years of stuff in my mind to get out versus where I had arrived in the blog content after 3 months of working on developing a style every day. When we focus on something, we change. And we can change quickly. I think that's more relevant than ever.

I had a friend with a PhD in Linguistics look over it. It was a generous gesture. I am not holding him responsible for any grammatical errors or spelling errors in the finished product, however. I bought him his first bottle of Châteauneuf-du-Pape to quaff while reading over it. It was a combination of a thank-you-for-helping-me-out and a you-might-need-to-be-in-an-altered-state to enjoy this kind of thing. I think he liked it. The wine, that is.

I will write more books in the future.

I released an EP of my own original music a few years ago. This is scarier. Music is easy. It's almost like if you have some nice sounding tracks and a melody, you can literally get away saying whatever you want. Books don't have a soundtrack. The words are all you have, so they better be good. Releasing this book scares the shit out of me.

Having noted that this process scares the shit out of me, I never hesitated about putting it out there. I don't think I'm that old at 32, but I definitely feel old enough to not give a shit about what anyone thinks of my best work, my average, or my mistakes. The beauty of it is, if you don't like my stuff, you don't have to pay attention to it, like the posts, read the articles, take the courses, buy the book, listen to the podcast, watch the videos, or enjoy the wines and pairings I talk about and suggest. It's cool with me.

I have been making a concerted effort to be a better listener for my entire adult life. It hasn't always been a strength of mine. The weird thing about writing a book is that you're the one doing all the talking. After a while, you feel like you're being self-indulgent. I do think there are forms of writing that are more self-indulgent as opposed to others, but the beauty of a book is that the person who picks it up is willingly saying, "I'm ready to listen to what this author has to say for as many pages as they feel they need to say it." I figure I've just got to trust that.

Though it's only been three months since I started writing this book, it feels like I wrote it a long time ago. It's my Pablo Honey. My Can't Buy a Thrill. My Gordon. My Room for Squares. My À Bout de Souffle. My Reservoir Dogs. It's the first. I'll always look at it fondly, with that hint of cringe, but with the understanding that it may become much more important to somebody who reads it than it may be to me. Once it's out there, it's no longer yours exclusively.

So. It's real. It's here. If you want a copy of The Drunken Sommelier, it's available here.

Thanks for being there as humans. There's no book without someone to read it.

So, thank you. So much.



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