The first time I used Over the Transom as a banner for my writing was maybe 25 years ago, and I was living on a boat. A local newspaper publisher invited me to write a weekly column of 800 to 1,000 words that would run in all six of his county papers. Since it would be a standing piece, he wanted a title for the column. I was living on a boat, and it was in the days of sending in copy by mail or hand-delivery. And I literally climbed over the transom of my boat and onto the dock and drove up to the newspaper office to turn in my piece for the week.
Over the transom is also a publishing term for an unsolicited manuscript, as if it was tossed into an editor’s office through the transom window above the door. So, it sounded good to me as a title for my column, since that’s how the article was delivered, and readers didn’t solicit my opinion about the anything-and-everything I would write about in their newspapers each Wednesday.
I only wrote the column for a few years. But I never really stopped taking my stuff to print, between occasional magazine pieces, and posts to Facebook, and the books I’ve done. My first published novel, The Poet of Tolstoy Park, was followed by three others…A Sound Like Thunder, Cormac, and The Widow and the Tree. Before the novels, there was a 300-page practice manuscript that will remain in the drawer; a self-published children’s book, Rembrandt the Rocker; and, a self-help book, A Yin for Change. There were other newspaper articles and magazine pieces before the book-length work. I was editor-in-chief of Mobile, Alabama’s city magazine, Mobile Bay Monthly. And, I edited the five-volume, Stories from the Blue Moon Cafe series; plus, an anthology called Don’t Quit Your Day Job. I’ve tried three screenplays, and I’m working on a new one now. Lately, I’ve been back at magazine writing, doing some things for Garden & Gun.
I buy ink by the gallon. And I’m always looking for another place to publish words, and now and then a picture or two. A friend said to me, “You should try blogging.” Hmmm. I asked her do real men do that? Sure they do. And, tweet, for Heaven’s sake. Besides, who cares?
I like Over the Transom as a shingle for anything writing. After the newspaper column, I opened an independent bookstore by that name in my hometown of Fairhope, Alabama. I also did some publishing under that imprint. And here I go trotting out the name again. It’s a busy world. If you’ve come for a visit, and have a few minutes to read about what-have-you, I thank you. And, I hold with those who think this created world began with the word. May those words that I use, then, never but never help to take our world apart.