How To Write A Book: One Story
In 2014, Adam Bayfield, Tony Curr and I published a guidebook to the beaches of Guernsey, a small island in the English Channel that we call home.
When we came up with the project five years before, it didn’t seem like a good idea. In fact, it seemed like a terrifically bad idea. None of us had written a book before, and we had no experience in publishing. Also, we were 23.
The idea of writing a book grew out of a stupid challenge. Guernsey may be small, only 7 miles by 5, but it’s got plenty of beaches. 33, in fact. Could we swim at them all in one day?
The answer was yes.
And, like running for President or having a Twitter account, one of the advantages of a stupid challenge is that there’s bound to be a book in it.
So we set about researching and writing a guidebook to the beaches. It took us five years (after all, when the ‘research’ involves sunbathing and eating ice cream, you can never be too thorough) but eventually we had a manuscript. We recruited a local photographer — the incomparable Chris Tostevin-Hall — and our friends Ollie Mcvey and Nick Robinson hammered out the design.
At the end of it all we had a book: The Guernsey Beach Guide.
We published it in December 2014.
As of today the book has sold over 1500 copies, and we’re justifiably proud of the work that went into it.
A sample of the ecstatic reviews:
- “Surprisingly good”
- “I didn’t think you had it in you”
- “I still can’t believe you guys wrote this”
When I moved to New York in October 2014 the Guernsey Beach Guide was about to go to print, and I jokingly told people the sequel would be a New York version. Why not, right? After conquering Guernsey, Manhattan seemed the obvious next step.
But as I said this to more and more people, something changed. Was it really such a crazy idea? After all, New York City has over 14 miles of beaches. There’s even a Ramones song about Rockaway. And the more my girlfriend Caitlin and I read up on the city’s beaches, the more we realised there was a whole world we didn’t know about.
Last summer, as we spent every weekend taking the A train to the coast, the plan began to take shape. Exploring New York City’s beaches began to seem less like a jokey side project and more like something substantial. Perhaps even an anthropological experiment. Because while New York isn’t your typical ‘beach city’ like San Diego or Rio de Janeiro, there is still something remarkable about taking the subway to the end of the line and finding the ocean.
Thanks for reading.