Your Book Social Media Profile Awaits
By Pat O'Regan
I’ve run the gamut in writing – novels, short stories, plays, essays, profiles – but, as a way of attracting attention, I’ll focus on just two works. One of the novels concerns the life and art of a professional outdoor photographer. Photography, of course, is a very common expression of the artistic impulse we all share. Who hasn’t looked through a viewfinder and been thrilled at the sight? Or gazed upon a photo and thought, “Maybe I was lucky, but I’ve taken a great shot!” In the context of the love and struggle of Peter Donnelly, professional photographer, Shadows of the Past shows the artist in all of us. This is me, the reader would think, for I’ve been overcome by beauty, too. Add to this a love story and a struggle with the family of origin and you have the world of Peter Donnelly, and the reader. This novel has been professionally edited to exacting (and expensive) standards.
The other work I might single out is a play on the Vietnam War. I’ve not yet seen this conflict, so embedded in the American Soul, covered on stage. What is the experience of young guys in combat? What does war do to them? Truly, war enriches people’s lives – when it doesn’t drive them mad or kill them. Having been in combat in Vietnam, I know something about the experience. I’ve seen buddies killed or wounded, many driven to the brink of endurance, mentally and physically. Basically, an anti-war play, every line of FDC has dramatic content, rising to the keenest pitch of excitement and despair in its portrayal of the grinding shocks and burdens of war as it assaults the hearts of young men. From curtain to curtain, an audience would be captivated. I staged a reading of FDC (Fire Direction Control: the hut in which most of the action of the play takes place) recently. There was no lack of energy in my living room that night. I would do whatever I could to help with the production of this work. Somebody would make a lot of money with this play.
All art is born of conflict and every artist is beset with it. Love in the context of pain or hate. We can know a lot about others by the great love in their lives. Mine is literature. I was raised by a father who loved alcohol. It brought him relief from the shame of having been abused. My mother, God bless her, loved her motor home (which my father hated, by the way, as did I. It was the only thing we had in common.). When I was young, I tried to end my life – a thing of no value to me, whatsoever – in the mundane way of getting lost in the woods in the dead of winter. But I couldn’t manage it. I got lucky – three times – stumbling out of the woods just as the sun was setting and the woods was becoming black as pitch. I stumbled, instead, into a teaching position at a small parochial college, where I did the work of two or three medical students, and where, for all my efforts, the nuns colluded to steal part of my meagre salary (by putting me on the salary scale lower than I should have been). Oh, the memories to write about! And I did. My novel about that college is called Mater Dei, which means Mother of God, the name of the college.
After the college (now, alas and predictably, defunct), burned out, I turned to writing for business. Unbeknownst to me at the time – or who could stand it? – often I was the only one in sight getting any actual writing done. This did not, of course, exempt me from being utterly taken for granted and treated disparagingly. Of course, I did not realize this at the time – or who could stand it? – and I am not saying that this is unique. You, too, are taken for granted. Besides, who’s complaining? I made a living, and I’m still here. Furthermore, is not all this turmoil the stuff of a writing life? The novel based on my life is called The Life of Jeremy Grady.
At this time, I began to get work published. I’ve had some eight or ten short stories published in various magazines. I also write for the local chapter of the Sierra Club and a regional running magazine (I’m a runner), called RunMinnesota. (Along the way, I’ve become well-read, which is the great joy of my life.)
Some of this time, I was married. Can you believe it? We didn’t have any kids, but isn’t life a trade-off, this for that? I look at my library, consider the stuff I have written and recall the places I have been, and say to myself, “It’s okay, after all.”
The photography novel (Shadows of the Past) is being marketed at my own web site (peoregan.com). My four books of short stories have been listed on the POD publisher Lulu.com (enter Pat O’Regan in the Search field). I would send anyone interested a copy of the Vietnam War play (at my expense, of course).
I might mention another marketing angle. Of the many published articles and profiles, mostly on environmental issues and running, the profiles of some of the best runners around (including six Olympic athletes, four men and two women, and one Olympic coach) would make a very engaging book for anyone with an interest in athletic endeavor, especially running. This work gets at the souls of people who are among the best in the world at something. I can tell you, they are not like the rest of us. Some 20-25 profiles of these people would sell to the legion of runners out there.