Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Ben Franklin in Paris

I first wrote Chapter 16 of the first volume of Documenting America five or six years ago. Well, it's chapter 16 now that I added some before it. I think it was eleven or twelve originally. The documents of the chapter were two letters written by Benjamin Franklin from Paris on May 1, 1777. He was ambassador for the thirteen colonies, then fighting for their independence from Great Britain.

Franklin had been there less than three months, but he already had measured the political landscape and formed conclusions. England was having trouble recruiting troops. Mercenaries from Germany were available, but hard to come by. France, and her ally Spain, were preparing for war against England, but for the moment would not move. Since reports from America told him of improved prospects for Washington's army, Franklin was optimistic that the American forces could hold off the British.

Franklin also concluded that continental Europe was on the side of the colonies. Even those nations and people who did not live in liberty were pulling for us. We were "the cause of all mankind." If we won our liberty, formed a government, and stayed free among the roll call of nations, perhaps liberty for them was possible.

As I reviewed this chapter last night in preparation for expanding to full length this week, I knew I needed to see the Franklin letters again. So, through the miracle of Google Books, I found an 1818 volume that had them. They really weren't much longer than the excerpts I had planned to use as a newspaper column, so I decided to use the full letters (minus salutations and closings). However, I saw in the old book that Franklin wrote a short letter to a third man that day. It was just as good as the other two, so into the chapter it went.

The longer amounts of letters, and some expansion of my commentary, brought the chapter up to 1478 words, and the book up to 35,447. I have one more chapter to expand, and I think two more to add, bringing the total chapters to thirty, and the word count to around 39,000. That doesn't include an obligatory introduction, or table of contents, title page, copyright page, etc. Nor does it include some advance notice of volume two. I've learned recently that novelists who e-self-publish a series will add something of the plot of the next volume to the one at hand, creating some anticipation. Sounds like a good idea to me.

So, my first e-self-published book comes closer to completion. I project I'll have it done by Saturday or Sunday. I'll then print it and begin a couple of weeks of proofreading while waiting for my beta readers to review it and give me feedback. At least, I hope they do that. So far, no word.

It's late, and I really need to get to bed. I want to read a little, however, and prepare for tomorrow's writing work.

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