Author’s Notes

My introduction, straight from the print copy.


Author’s Notes


What you hold in your hands comes from a long effort on my part.

That should surprise no one.

What might surprise some of you is not that I printed this book, but the why of it.

I started this story for National Novel Writing Month 2003 (“NaNoWriMo” for short) and spent eight months finishing it afterwards because it was new in my mind. It was fresh. It had no baggage, unlike some of the other stories floating around in my head. The point of NaNoWriMo is to finish a novel (Neil Gaiman once said, “Most people can start a short story or a novel” and I tend to agree with him), and I wanted something that I could finish to the end, come hell or high water, without worrying about whether it was good or not.

Two basic ideas drove the creation of this story.

The first: travel calls to me. I have a terrible wanderlust. I love travel writing, too, for its ability to take us places we’ve never been. It gives us a new window into the world, new eyes with which to see the ordinary and extraordinary.

The second: homelessness. Homelessness fascinates me on two levels: a materialistic/philosophical level (who are we when we have no belongings? No place to call ours?) and at the basic level that it exists at all in one of, if not the, most wealthy and prosperous nations in the world. Some readers might find fault with my intellectual pondering of the issue when there are people out there who don’t have basic shelter or enough to eat, but I counter with this: the issue is more than mere supply and demand. Wrapped up within it are all of our hopes, dreams, preconceptions, judgements, and ideals. Just as story ideas can have baggage, so too can concepts.

I wanted to bring these two ideas of traveling and homelessness together with some other thoughts of mine and hopefully show them in a way that allowed us to get up close and personal in them without being wrapped up completely. Kyle, the main character in this story, did as well as he could in that regard. Any faults are mine.

My goal at the outset of the work was to finish the damn book and then print it: a huge chunk of dead tree and glue that would serve as proof to myself, when the going gets dark and difficult, that I finished a novel.

And that I can do it again if I work hard enough.

Anything else that it accomplishes—sating wanderlust, bringing the issue of homelessness into the puclic awareness—would be gravy on top of that.

That is why I printed it. There are bits that I like, bits that I’m proud of, and bits where I know I missed the mark I aimed for. In answer to those parts, I can only shrug my shoulders and promise to do better next time.

The problem is that it’s all too easy to never stop editing. There’s a quote, often attributed to Picasso, that goes like this: “Paintings are never finished. Only abandoned.” And that’s what happened to this story. I wrote it during the last bit of 2003 and the first eight months of 2004. I set the story aside to let it cool off before I went back to it, but because life takes us in different directions than we anticipate, a number of years went by between the writing of it and the roughly three periods wherein I sat down to edit it.

My goal thus met, I can get the printed copy I wanted all those years ago and go on my merry way. Those people who’ve told me over the years that they want to read what I wrote can now also get their peek.

Looking back on the story six years after I wrote it, I find that there’s still something there. I hope that it finds a wider audience. I also hope that the story changes the way people look at the world and those who inhabit it.

Shall we go for a walk? Kyle has much to show us.

R. Canepa

June 2009