By Chris Clancy
So many authors have described writing a book as a process. This process goes through some or all of the following stages. It starts as a nice idea and a few lines are penned. As more are added it turns into a hobby – a kind of leisure interest which you look forward to and enjoy. As time passes and the thing gets hold it becomes like a secret that's all yours.
After dinner you make a few excuses and then slink off to the boxroom to spend time with your new-found passion – your mistress. An obsession has begun – it grows stronger and stronger – until, as time passes, you are no longer in control.
Try as you might you just can't break away from it. No longer a love affair - a slave driver has now taken over.
You begin to dread entering that boxroom – you start making ridiculous excuses to yourself not to go there – but in the end you are almost inexorably drawn into it again and again.
What started as a nice idea has evolved into a being of some kind – sentient. An entity which now dominates you. Occupies your every waking hour. You grow to hate it. The final stage in the process has been reached.
You now have only one choice. You must end it. End it once and for all.
Destroy the monster which you have created!
Yes, I can identify with the above, especially the last part. I now understand why some books seem to end so abruptly or just sort of peter out.
My recently published book, "Cut Loose At Fifty", started life in 2008 as a short series of essays about my first year in China. Three years later I left China and had the opportunity to write the whole story.
My objective in writing the book was simply to tell a story. A story about someone who found himself set adrift at fifty – nothing more. If readers are entertained for a few hours I am happy. If they take a few things away with them afterwards, so much the better.
It took me about twelve months to write.
When it was finished it then had to be proofed, edited, polished and reviewed. The last thing to add was the dedication. Of all the trials involved in writing the book, this was the only part which was both easy and obvious.
To explain, I need to go back six years or so – to July 2006.
I was working at Zhongnan University of Economics and Law, in Wuhan City, PRC. Someone from the Foreign Affairs Office asked me if I would do some editing work. It was for a Chinese professor in the law department. He was applying for a scholarship with the Fulbright Institute in the USA. His research would be to examine the resolution of legal disputes over something called "securitization"; specifically, with regard to "remoteness of damage".
The research proposal ran to five pages. It was very well planned and laid out. His written English was good – it just needed a bit of work here and there.
Before I could do anything I first had to make sure I had some understanding of what he meant by "securitization" and legal disputes in this context.
As ever, I went to the internet.
If my time in China can be described as a seven year journey, then that single word, "securitization", set me off on a journey within a journey.
Early in my reading I came across an essay by someone called Lew Rockwell. I'd never heard of him before.
In this essay he wrote:
On the face of it this quote seems quite innocuous – one that you could easily pass over – but this didn't happen. It stopped me in my tracks.
I felt as if two hands had reached out of my screen, grabbed me by my shirt and given me a good shake.
I read it again and again. He was actually saying something which went against everything I thought I understood about economics. I kept going back to it.
Quite by chance I had stumbled across something called, "Austrian Economics".On an intellectual level, and in many other ways, things would never be the same again. This is not an exaggeration.
A whole new world opened up and I very quickly got sucked into it. The volume of material which I discovered on this subject, going back decades, was nothing short of heroic. Lew had opened a door, not just to understanding what economics is really about but also to help make sense of so much of what is going on around us.
And then there's the personal sacrifice of he and so many others, like Mises, Hazlitt and Rothbard.
Even in the darkest of times they never gave up, never abandoned their principles - who continued to fight for what they believed in – the power of free markets, property rights and sound money – for the cause of liberty.
And their struggle has not been in vain. Just witness the explosion in interest, especially amongst young people, regarding Austrian economics on the internet.
The growth has been unbelievable.
I wonder how many others Lew has opened the same door for over the years through his tireless work, his courage and his dedication?
Countless, I should imagine.
As for the actual dedication, words cannot properly express my gratitude – so I just kept it short – it simply reads:
"To Lew Rockwell: He opened a door."
Thank you Lew.
Chris Clancy lived in China for seven years. Most of this time was spent as associate professor of financial accounting at Zhongnan University of Economics and Law in Wuhan City, Hubei Province. He now lives in Thailand where he spends his time reading, writing, lecturing and, whenever he gets the chance, doing his level best to spread Austrian economics.