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Autobiography of a Lost Soul: Author Steve Glines

I committed myself to a career as a writer when I was about ten years old. It was the day my grandfather leaned over me, wagged a finger, and in his pontificating voice said, "Remember, if all else fails, you can always write a book." He wrote fifteen or twenty. I've only managed five. That is five that I've gotten published. My grandfather wrote about politics dictating such memorable tomes as "Revolutionary Radicalism in New York State between 1900 and 1920,” in three volumes.

I read the first fifty pages of volume one. My best guess is that it is really a very detailed history of the early labor movement. Pretty dusty stuff. His "bestseller," if you can call it that, was "States Rights and National Prohibition.” It’s the only book that the Library of Congress has kept. They get millions of books each year but toss out the majority, not even holding a library sale as far as I can tell, so having a book of yours on the shelves is an honor. He never made any money writing but frittered away a good inheritance away trying to be profound. I didn’t have that luxury.

My first attempts at commercial writing were for specialized magazines. They either didn't pay at all or paid a bare minimum. The theory was that if you wrote for them, you had a day job or were writing to promote something, usually some flavor of snake oil. The people that did get paid were the graphic designers who put the magazine together and the printers. I learned book and magazine production very quickly and easily. It's a different part of my brain at work.

When I'm in design mode, I can be outgoing and gregarious. I sometimes listen to music, and if I need inspiration, I'll flip through the well-designed books and magazines I've hoarded over the years. For me, a layout is an artistic puzzle with many different possible ways of being solved. I can honestly say I've never designed the same book twice, except in the case of anthologies. I take some pride in having designed a couple of national magazines as well as hundreds of books from poetry chapbooks to the collected works of some famous academics.

Writing is different. I close myself off from the world. Turn off the music and focus. Writing is much harder than design but far more rewarding. As the plot twists and turns, I'll search the soul of a fabricated character to see what he (or she) might do. Occasionally the muse, from whom I take dictation, throws a curve at me and a character I thought I knew goes off course creating mayhem and destroying the plot I thought I had crafted so well. On one occasion I abandoned a story because my protagonist, a gentleman I thought I knew, turned out to be evil and the only way to stop him was to delete him. So I did. On another occasion, I started a police procedural only to discover pretty quickly that I didn't know anything about police procedures. My muse didn't either.

I just looked up. When I started this, an hour or so ago, the sun was up, and it was full daylight, now it's the twilight of a mid winter's evening. Headlights are on, and the muse is getting hungry. Perhaps I'll return to this if she's well fed.


Steve Glines is the Editor, Publisher, and Art Director for Wilderness House Press ( and Wilderness House Literary Review ( The Press has designed over 100 books for other small presses and self-published individuals and a dozen books under its own imprint. Wilderness House Literary Review is a quarterly online literary magazine in its fifteenth year. Steve was an Art Director at SAIL Magazine, a teaching and research assistant at MIT and a professor of Computer Science at Middlesex Community College. He is the published author of five trade textbooks and has several finished manuscripts looking for a home. His first novel, Poplar Hill, can be purchased (in ebook form) from and in hardback via Amazon and the book store of your choice after June 10th 2019.

Further samples of his work may be found at:

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