Pine Nuts: Writing a book is easy as giving birth to a porcupine backwards |

Pine Nuts: Writing a book is easy as giving birth to a porcupine backwards

We all have a book inside us, wanting to get out. Most of those books won’t get out and for good reason.

Writing a book demands the long hours of solitude necessary to awaken the composer of the music that sleeps within our imaginations. Yet life is full of rude interruptions. Finding solitude is not always easy or even possible. So like frogs on lily pads, we are forced to create our own Walden Ponds.

With my lily pad in mind, I purchased a pair of industrial sized noise-canceling headphones, closed the garage door, climbed into the back seat of my car, and put my Pilot Pen to paper. Nothing happened. My page sat empty, blank, tabula rasa. My brain was stuck in neutral. I got hungry and gave it up.

The next afternoon, figuring I would write my book in the rhythm of an American folk song, I piped some Joni Mitchell music into my car inside my garage, and fell fast asleep. It was probably the best nap I have ever had, but I got no writing done, not one word.

I shopped around and found a book, “How to Write Great,” which turned out to be the worst money I ever spent. That book told me to sit outside in the light of a full moon, open up the moon-roof of my brain and breathe deep. I did that. Nothing happened, though I did manage to breathe in a moth and nearly choked to death.

I was about to give up on writing a book for good, but thought I should have my fortune read first. So I went to a fortune teller in Sparks who looked, by the way she was dressed, like she was an expert in the ancient art of fortune telling. I realized she was a pro when she started feeling the bumps on my cranium while mumbling something like the Lord’s Prayer backwards. She was a hundred years old if she was a day, which added to her credibility. After a long moment of sober reflection she told me I was going to die in a foreign land — New Jersey.

I didn’t really care where I was going to die, so I asked her, “Do I have a book in me?”

She gave me a sideways look and said with no sugar in her voice to speak of, “How should I know, I’m not a doctor.”

“But am I capable of writing a book?” I pleaded.

“Maybe,” she offered reluctantly.

With hope hanging on every word, I beseeched her, “What should my book be about?”

“Cats,” she said without emotion.

“I don’t own a cat.” I protested. “I don’t even like cats.”

She held out a bony hand and I paid her a hundred dollars. Then I went home and started a book about cats. I got it written, got it published, and it becomes available today on Amazon, though it ended up being not about cats at all, but about Mark Twain.

I ended up calling it, “Huck Finally Graduates!”

Let me know if you want the name of that fortune teller …

Learn more about McAvoy Layne at

Support Local Journalism


Support Local Journalism

Readers around Lake Tahoe, Truckee, and beyond make the Sierra Sun's work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.

For tax deductible donations, click here.

Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User


See more