An example of copy that did not make it into the book...

By His Own Blood consists of approximately 100,000 words. Before final editing took place, I had written over 200,000 words, so I had to get very serious during the final editing process, otherwise the book would have approached 600 pages, which would have been too long. In reality, much of the copy was not entirely relevant to the story I wanted to tell.
As an example, I've attached a short piece titled, "Who was Doc?" It may give you a sense of the type of copy that was omitted. This was one of my first writings. It was hard for me to cut it from the final manuscript. I hope you enjoy it.

Who Was Doc?

Doc was a West Texas farmer. He had a visceral connection to the land. I know this because I saw it first-hand many times. One of those times comes vividly to mind and stands out more than most others.

It was a warm, cloudless spring day in 1953 on the Rolling Plains of Texas. “Come on, Johnnie,” Daddy said that day reaching for the straw hat he kept on a ten-penny nail behind the kitchen door. “Come go with me and let’s get on the tractor.” I enjoyed riding on the tractor with Daddy just about as much as anything I could think of. Standing up behind him up on the B-Series John Deere, we headed toward the fallow field of wheat stubble. Daddy sat in the hard, iron tractor seat, the one studded with small holes, the one that gave him the piles. His only physical ailment. Oh, he sometimes had a winter head cold, but he was extraordinarily healthy and fit. The only time Daddy ever complained was when he accidentally injured himself with a piece of farm machinery.

On that dazzling Texas morning, I watched Daddy make the first pass through the center of the field “busting” the ground with a single-bottom plow. He had calibrated the plow-setting to reach as deep as possible without putting too much strain on the tractor. The deeper soil contained more nutrients, which meant that the cotton Daddy was going to plant would get a healthy start. As the two chugging, engine cylinders powered the John Deere through the field, sandy-loam soil damp from the winter rains, turned up and over like butter curling across the shiny, steel plow share.

There was nothing quite like it. Although simple, it was a new beginning each year. Riding up on that green tractor with the energy of Mother Earth waking up from her long winter slumber, I was part of it. The freshly broken soil smelled alive and healthy. I wanted to take a big bite of it. To me, the plowed land was refreshingly pungent like Mama’s just-cut vegetables ready for a salad bowl.

Daddy stopped half way through the first cut across the field. We got down off the tractor and knelt by the open furrow. He picked up a handful of the moist soil rolling it around in his big, calloused hand making small dirt balls with his thumb. He put a ball up to his sun-browned nose and smelled it. I watched his face. His eyes welled with tears as he swallowed hard. Smiling, he looked up at me and said, “It’s going to be a good crop year, Johnnie.”

That was the exact moment I realized how intensely Daddy loved that little piece of ground and his life as a farmer. Climbing back on the tractor in back of my daddy felt great. He was my rock. A good man. A happy man. And a wonderful father. Always. Standing on the tractor behind him, I threw my arms around his neck. He pushed the clutch forward. The green “Poppin’ Johnny” headed toward the end of the field.

“I’m really happy, Johnnie, farming this place and having you ride with me, hugging my neck,” Daddy said. His words fell over me like gentle rain after a drought. I was happy, too.


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Posted by Max Anderson on January 14, 2013 at 8:26am 1 Comment

Johnny....I didn't realize you lost your dad by such an unnecesary way.  I think it's great that you have shared the story with others.  Toni said to pass on her regards, and please give Karen a hug for me.

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