Susan E.B. Schwartz - Reader Blog 10


The book's subject, Hans Kraus, when he was in his twenties, in Vienna during the 1930s. Photo courtesy of Hans Kraus / Into the Unknown: Remarkable Life of Hans Kraus

Author's book, Into the Unknown, the definitive (and only) biography of Gunks pioneer, Hans Kraus. Photo courtesy of Hans Kraus / Into the Unknown: Remarkable Life of Hans Kraus

It must be so much fun to write a book.

Recently, I was thrilled that Eric Horst asked me to read his new book in manuscript form, and if I was so moved, provide a blurb. I’ve just started the manuscript but it’s terrific.

I can’t say more here. You’ll have to look for the book when it comes out later this year. But Eric’s manuscript set me thinking. About how much effort goes into writing a book… Heck, about how much effort goes into writing a bad book.

My biography of the Gunks pioneer, Hans Kraus (Into the Unknown) took me ten years. Because Hans was 90 and dying, I didn’t take the time beforehand to look for an agent or get an advance. During this period when I worked on the book, I also worked a corporate job with long hours, got married, moved three times, and had two children. My time to work on the book was limited to weekends, car rides, and plane or train trips.

Hans on an upper pitch in the Gunks in the late 1940s. Notice the state of the art hemp rope tied loosely around his waist! Photo courtesy of Hans Kraus / Into the Unknown: Remarkable Life of Hans Kraus

Hans on the crux pitch of his classic, High Exposure (1941), in the Gunks, sometime in the early 1950s. Even today, although 5.6, High Exposure is still considered one of the great climbs in the world. Photo courtesy of Hans Kraus / Into the Unknown: Remarkable Life of Hans Kraus

There were even outings to the Gunks when I stayed in the car or at the base of a climb writing while my friends were up playing on the cliffs.

Writing a book is an incredible experience even though it has a way of glomming up your life. So based on personal experience, I offer 10 suggestions for what not to say when you’re at your next climbing slideshow and face to face with the book author:

  1. It must be so much fun to write a book.
  2. I have a great idea for your next book.
  3. Alternately: I have a great idea for your next book. You can have it if you pay me.
  4. I’ve also been meaning to write a book in my spare time one of these days.
  5. Alternately: I’ve been meaning to write a book but (unlike you) I haven’t had the spare time.
  6. Why did your book take you so long to write?
  7. Alternately: Wow, your book took you that long to write!
  8. Why is it taking you so long to come out with your next book?
  9. Did you know that there is a typo on page 248?
  10. I never buy books anymore.

Hans and his good friend and fellow "patriarch" of the Gunks, Fritz Wiessner. Photo courtesy of Hans Kraus / Into the Unknown: Remarkable Life of Hans Kraus

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—SEBS 

Hans kraus 90 - Hans at age 90, shortly before his death. Photo courtesy of Hans Kraus / Into the Unknown: Remarkable Life of Hans Kraus

Read some of Susan E.B. Schwartz's earlier posts:

 



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