I think people believe the life of an author is glamorous and somehow exciting. I'm glad that myth exists but in reality, it is mix of creativity and hard work. Yes, you get to do some TV and radio interviews, if you're lucky…but those can be more nerve-wracking than fun at times. The opportunity to screw up on nationwide TV can be a little daunting. Most of the work of being a writer however is not being on TV or radio, it is spreading out piles of paper in your office, typing long hours, footnoting (yuck!), and doing research and organizing your work. There are not a of reality shows about historians/authors.
There are some rewards - and I don't mean financial. When I was in Michigan in December doing the book tour for Lost Eagles I got to meet some members of the Zinn family face-to-face. I have corresponded with some of the family. The lecture events brought out people I have never knew existed. It was an incredible treat as a writer.
One brought a photo album with images I have never seen before. Others brought stories I had never heard. It was a real treat. Fred Zinn's extended family had a lot to be proud of.
Perhaps the neatest part was the fact that I learned what happened to the memorial plaque for Fred. According to his son, and the folks at Kellogg Regional Airport, it was stolen in the 1970's. As it turns out the family took it - most likely saving it from obscurity or destruction. I was delighted that this piece of history had not been melted down in some scrap yard.
In working with the Kalamazoo Air Zoo we came to the realization that Frederick Zinn as not part of the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame. The Air Zoo staff was very helpful and we are beginning the submission process for Fred Zinn to be included in 2012 (2011 nominations are closed). Given his local ties and his contribution to aviation history, it seemed only fitting that he be enshrined there. Since I worked on the book it only seemed fitting that I get the paperwork in. Not for me - for Fred.
My point? The work isn't over when the book is written. In many cases, it has just begun. Even when you are done with the book, new details come in, new facts, new bits of evidence. You never are really done working on a book...