In Which I Decide to Write a Book


My friend the Poet visited me at my campground over the summer. During the visit, the topic of self-publishing books came up. The Poet planned to self-publish a book. I hadn’t given self-publishing an actual book much thought. Sure, I’ve published zines before, but a whole book? That seemed beyond my capabilities, but the more I thought about the project, the more I thought, I could do this!

A couple weeks after The Poet’s visit, I decided on a Tuesday afternoon that I would self-publish a book (called Confessions of a Work Camper: Tales from the Woods) collecting my stories of work camping. Before a week had passed, I made decisions about chapters. I wrote intros for each chapter, as well as an intro to the whole collection. I decided in addition to stories that had already been posted on my blog, the book would include brand new, never before published stories. I wrote several of these new stories.

I want the book to be ready for purchase for the winter holidays, which means I have to work pretty fast. When I got to civilization, I asked the Poet for all the information she had about self-publishing. She graciously sent me an informative email within a couple of hours. I choose a company to work with and did some of the preliminary work of setting up an account.

I also did a quick Google search on “confessions of a work camper” and “confessions of a camp host,” and with the exception of a couple of poorly written blog posts, I found nothing. Could I possibly have come up with an idea for a book that’s never been written? (Part of me thinks I should not go public with this idea, lest someone else scoops it up before I can complete my project. Oh well. I’ve never been much good at keeping my big mouth shut. Also, I feel like if I go public with my intentions, I will have to follow through if I don’t want to look like a fool.)

I wrote to another friend who is a published (as in by a publishing company) writer. She offered to help me with the book and told me to think about goals for the book. Goals? Ok.

My Goals for My Book

#1 Generate income

#2 Generate interest in me as a writer

#3 Bring more readers to my blog

#4 Amuse readers

#5 Educate people about the possibility of work camping.

Because I am worried my blog will suffer while I am working on the book, I have been recruiting guest bloggers. I’ve invited several friends to write for the blog while I am busy with the book. In less than an hour, three people said yes and one said maybe. If other folks want to share stories, please contact me. I am looking for nonfiction pieces of a personal nature, 300 to 2,000 words. I’m most interested in travel and van dwelling stories; pieces about class issues; recommendations for books, articles, zines, websites, music. I don’t want to put a lot of work into guest posts, so please edit carefully before you send me anything for consideration.

This entire book project is exciting and overwhelming, but mostly exciting. I think I will feel less overwhelmed when I am no longer isolated on a mountain with no internet access. It won’t be long now.


About Blaize Sun

My name is Blaize Sun. Maybe that's the name my family gave me; maybe it's not. In any case, that's the name I'm using here and now. I've been a rubber tramp for nearly a decade.I like to see places I've never seen before, and I like to visit the places I love again and again. For most of my years on the road, my primary residence was my van. For almost half of the time I was a van dweller, I was going it alone. Now I have a little travel trailer parked in a small RV park in a small desert town. I also have a minivan to travel in. When it gets too hot for me in my desert, I get in my minivan and move up in elevation to find cooler temperatures or I house sit in town in a place with air conditioning I was a work camper in a remote National Forest recreation area on a mountain for four seasons. I was a camp host and parking lot attendant for two seasons and wrote a book about my experiences called Confessions of a Work Camper: Tales from the Woods. During the last two seasons as a work camper on that mountain, I was a clerk in a campground store. I'm also a house and pet sitter, and I pick up odd jobs when I can. I'm primarily a writer, but I also create beautiful little collages; hand make hemp jewelry and warm, colorful winter hats; and use my creative and artistic skills to decorate my life and brighten the lives of others. My goal (for my writing and my life) is to be real. I don't like fake, and I don't want to share fake. I want to share my authentic thoughts and feelings. I want to give others space and permission to share their authentic selves. Sometimes I think the best way to support others is to leave them alone and allow them to be. I am more than just a rubber tramp artist. I'm fat. I'm funny. I'm flawed. I try to be kind. I'm often grouchy. I am awed by the stars in the dark desert night. I hope my writing moves people. If my writing makes someone laugh or cry or feel angry or happy or troubled or comforted, I have done my job. If my writing makes someone think and question and try a little harder, I've done my job. If my writing opens a door for someone, changes a life, I have done my job well. I hope you enjoy my blog posts, my word and pictures, the work I've done to express myself in a way others will understand. I hope you appreciate the time and energy I put into each post. I hope you will click the like button each time you like what you have read. I hope you will share posts with the people in your life. I hope you'll leave a comment and share your authentic self with me and this blog's other readers. Thank you for reading.  A writer without readers is very sad indeed.

21 Responses »

  1. Go for it. This is a terrific idea. Your blog posts are an excellent read and insightful.

    Looking forward to reading the published book.

    • Thank you, Louise. I am going to clean up my language so the book will be suitable for all ages. You will be able to give a copy to your mom for the winter holidays and read it aloud to your babies to put them to sleep at night.

    • I would LOVE for you to guest blog for me, Wendy. Maybe you can whip something up between now and when your winter season work starts?

      I would be glad to run something on the topic of your choosing, but my readers might really love to read about how you decided to quit doing what you were doing and hit the road.

  2. I toyed with the same idea last fall, but I’m glad you’re going through with it! I wrote, illustrated, and self-published two children’s books instead. Are you using “Create Space” to publish? It’s a pretty easy publishing process, if you’re not incorporating illustrations.

    • Tammi, could you post links to your books in the comments section here? Folks may want to have a look at them.

      I am using Create Space. There will be no illustrations. It does seem like an easy process. I will be glad when I can sit somewhere with 24/7 internet and more easily get work done.

      Thank you for commenting on this post!

  3. I have to echo everyone else when I say that I have no doubt that you can write a terrific book. You have an engaging writing style and plenty of interesting experiences and ideas. I hope you drop a line about your progress from time to time.

    • Thank you, Lia. This means so much coming from you.

      My goal is to have the book ready for purchase for this year’s winter holidays, so I hope the progress will be quick! So far, I have the main introduction and the ones for each chapter written and typed into a word document. I have probably ten new pieces written, as well as some lists I will include. The next step will be typing those in, then copying and pasting the pieces that have already been on the blog into the main document.

      Our friend the writer is helping me, which means I am a lucky, lucky writer!

      Thanks for reading my blog and thanks for this comment.

  4. Well, good for you! Get to it and I hope you get FLOODED with buyers!

    Is this one of the Amazon book publishing things? I’m working on my third never-published book (fiction). Get started right away, it seems to take some practice to get the ‘flow’ right.

    “I asked the Poet for all the information she had about self-publishing. She graciously sent me an informative email within a couple of hours. I choose a company to work with and did some of the preliminary work of setting up an account.”

    Is there any chance that you could pass this on? I just recently heard about it, but don’t know much about the where and how-to. I would be grateful for any info.

    • Sue, the information the Poet shared with me will appear as a blog post on Wednesday, October 19. I hope you (and possibly others) find it useful.

  5. Go for it, girl! I published my memoir in 2012. People love to read real-life stories.
    I have a couple of blogs you might be interested in “guesting”. In the first one, on Nature Deficit Disorder, rights to the photos belong to Tom Fehrenbacher, mentioned in the blog, and he is fine with sharing them:
    In the second one, on a shaman I watched doing his “thing” in Peru, the photos aren’t mine, but I can look up the sources (or delete them). The link is:

    • Thanks for the encouragement!

      I will look at those posts, hopefully today. Coming back to civilization means taking a lot of time to get caught up. I can’t wait until I am somewhere with 24/7 internet again.

  6. You may want to keep in mind a book about your life, not just camp hosting. Just from reading here, you seem to have a very interesting life. If you don’t want to go all autobiographical, throw in some fictional embellishments.

    • Thanks for the thought, Maddie.

      Having this be a book just about work camping is a strategic decision. Sticking to one main topic narrows the focus so the book isn’t all over the place. Also, I don’t know of and wasn’t able to find any other books about work campers in general or camp hosts in particular. With this book, I am targeting an audience of folks who are, have been, or who may want to be work campers, in addition to folks who will read it because they like my blog and my writing.

      I think I have more than one book in me!

      • Per Maddie’s response: “You may want to keep in mind a book about your life, not just camp hosting.”

        That’s your NEXT book!

    • Thank you for being a fan! My goal is to have some copies of the book on hand for sale at the RTR! AND I would like to give a reading and have a question and answer session there.

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