A Question of Duty By William C. Blynn
At the May 2001 O.G.C.A. meeting in Cleveland (Brookpark, Ohio) I tabled a display in the annual display competition and it’s subject was SHOULD YOU AS AN EXPERIENCED KNOWLEDGEABLE COLLECTOR CONSIDER WRITING FOR PUBLICATION? (or, The Joys of Writing About Your Specialty). My display was well received and I consider the subject so important I want to expand upon it here.
People who know me in the firearms collecting field and related areas know that I did not shy away from writing for publication if I was privy to information I felt would be of considerable interest to casual readers, collectors, historians or anyone who may possess a zest for learning. My reasoning was that after all is said and done, is it not true that our collecting interests are enriched by available information that is the results of others who made the effort to commit their knowledge to print? The combination of beautiful photography and factual information has enriched our own collecting lives, has it not? And, I wanted to be a part of that and contribute whenever I had a worthy topic.
In light of that, do not you people reading this who have not already done so and have amassed moderate or considerable amounts of generally unknown knowledge or unusual experiences regarding gun collecting or, in particular, your special field of interest feel an obligation, yes, even a duty to share it? And, what better way than creating even a small literary work and getting it into publication for others to use or enjoy.
There are certain benefits awaiting. Money? Unlikely, unless one can fill a book and reach the market. Of the humorous articles I succeeded in getting to press (some excellent efforts failed to see publication), the book authors I helped and the many minor contributions I made to book, I was paid only once - $350 for “expenses”. So, what tangible benefits are there? Read on.
Besides being a labor of love and having pride in helping fledgling collectors, you may bring persons to understand and appreciate your special collecting field and desire to enter it. Then there is the pride in seeing your authorship efforts in print and available to the world. And, having your work and your name logged into the various storage archives in such institutions as the Library of Congress for posterity.
After you are gone, your gun collection probably will be dispersed away from your family. However, your written word will be there for your grandchildren and theirs. Then there is the mail from distant lands and cultures that you shall receive.
So, how difficult and complicated is it to become a published author? Well, not very. One need not have any special talent for writing, nor experience or training. However, one cannot “fake it”, either, because he’ll surely be called on it. And, do not plagiarize; it is not “cricket”. If you must, request permission, first.
When you complete your effort and are satisfied you did your best including great photographs, submit your article to a publisher who’s name and address is in the frontispiece of the book or magazine you have chosen to publish in, or, your library will find you a likely candidate. Better, yet, contact the publisher for permission to submit, first. Or, you might try O.G.C.A. member/publishers such as Joe Schroeder who publishes “Gun Collector’s Digest”. Anyway, those methods worked for me.
Do not conclude “who would be interested in my area special field of collecting; it is not really “collecting”. Or, “ I am merely a student without material examples of my interest; what makes me qualified to write about it?” Well, personally I believe almost everything is related to firearms (weapons). I believe Napoleon once said “Political power comes but of the barrel of a canon”. (Conversely, Ben-Gurion said, “Victory is not the thing of armies.”). Anyway, say your interest was in fingerhuts, better known as thimbles for sewing. Is it, not related to guns having been a military necessity to both adversaries in the Civil War? Or, say you focus on Indian Peace Medals (a subject dear to my heart). Tell us about it! In war and peace for over three hundred years in America, diplomacy (and victory) was closely hinged to the IPM and they were possibly more important than firearms during the era when the “Indian” was a factor to reckon with. What a great subject with few devotees. Get my point?
Alright, so you feel you have no special “expertise” to share, right? Well, not so fast! You do not get off that easy. If you have been associated with guns and collectors for anytime you probably have had some “experience,” that if told would fascinate others.
For instance, what about that “world class fake” you were “stuck” with years ago? Remember that engraved and inscribed with symbols pistol that fell into your hands and that you just “knew” was correct (that old “gut feeling”). It just screamed at you “I am right, I am important, I am a mystery that is going to be a challenge.”
And, how when you took it to an O.G.C.A. show and put it upon your table and awaited comments, the “OUT HOUSE EXPERTS” were quick to deride it as “too good to be true”, and so forth. Your heart did sink, but not break – you still had faith (now, here is where getting into print does help).
You put together a package and fired it off to a publisher and soon that magic letter from Europe arrived identifying the gun and authenticated it with period documentation! It had once belonged to one of the most famous (or, infamous) persons in modern history! One of those million dollar guns! What a story and a fascinating one; how impressive it would be published. (Author’s note: some of you probably guessed - my story. Unfortunately, I had “caved in” to their rhetoric and swapped it off two weeks before receiving the documentation. Story of my life; however, many of us have similar ones, I’m sure. (Reminds me, I should write it up and get it off to the publisher!) The point is, dear reader, if your find is fertile and loaded with imagination (and it would have to be for you to be a collector - only the most interesting of people collect) you have things to write about. Now, let’s get to it!
In conclusion: in case you do not know it, fellow collectors, the time may be near when you shall no longer be able to speak of or own guns, let alone write about them. There shall be no room for such “archaic relics of the past” in the coming secular “new global economy” with its world government. So, seize the opportunity to exercise your current right to free speech and press and lock in your place in the archives of history.