2.10.21 Daily Voice Founder Shares "A Lifetime of Work" in His New Book
Ten years after founding Daily Voice, Carll Tucker is bringing out a new book called Collected Words. We sat down to talk to him about his book, Daily Voice, and what he’s been doing since his retirement in 2019.
DV: So what is Collected Words?
Tucker: Collected Words is five books I’ve written during the last thirty years. The first, Good Morning, was mined from the daily email missives I’ve been sending to my friends every day for eight years. Our Rift is a book of poems. Paddle’s Last Gift is a memoir of our beloved family dog. Dear David is a letter I wrote to my youngest son on his bar mitzvah more than twenty years ago. And Gray Matter is a book of small, experimental essays. A lifetime of work – more than 750 pages. Also useful as a doorstop.
DV: Where can one buy Collected Words?
Tucker: Collected Words is available by subscription only. Details can be found on the publisher’s website, caxtonremus.com. Only copies that have been pre-ordered will be printed. It will not be sold at book stores or online.
DV: Why publish now – after all these years?
Tucker: Covid made me do it. Stuck in quarantine, my mountain of unpublished words stared at me: “Don’t we deserve our chance?” My missive readers had been bugging me for a book. So I figured, Why not?
DV: What are these missives?
Tucker: They’re 600-word daily musings to my pals. I started them eight years ago by accident. Daily Voice was going through a crisis, typical for a start-up. I wanted to let our investors know what was going on each day, so I began these daily bulletins. Then the crisis passed – but some investors said they enjoyed reading what I sent. So a few readers snowballed into a multitude, now all over the world.
DV: How do people get to read your missives?
Tucker: They ask. My email is email@example.com. If I think they’d enjoy them, I’m happy to share. If they hate what I write, which sometimes happens, I spare them the pain. Delight or delete – that’s my motto.
DV: So what have you been up to in retirement?
Tucker: My wife, Jane Bryant Quinn, and I wanted to do something exciting and different. So we sold our New York apartment and moved to Rome. We were having the time of our lives exploring Italy and writing about it. Then Covid came, disrupting everybody’s plans. We came home last March, then returned to Rome in August. We plan to divide our time from now on between home and Rome.
DV: Do you miss Daily Voice?
Tucker: Launching Daily Voice was one of my life’s great adventures. Back in 2010, lots of folks knew there had to be reliable, timely community news online, but no one knew how to do it. Our incredible team figured it out. Today, Daily Voice covers more than 100 communities in 5 states and is growing by leaps and bounds. My friends Travis Hardman and Ted Yang are exceptional leaders. I’m proud of what we accomplished together and thrilled to be cheering them on.
Collected Words, my new book which goes to press March 15, contains five titles. I thought you might like to know a little about each.
Good Morning is first and fattest. It was made by mining and smelting the more than two million words I’ve published in daily missives during the past eight years. It is not a selection, but a new work made of these materials. Its opening chapter is largely new.
Were it not for Covid, I’d never have made Good Morning. Your attention is reward enough. To make a book that must sit on a shelf beside Montaigne, Dr. Johnson, and Thoreau was a prospect too daunting. But then, during quarantine, my pile of words stared at me forlornly: “Don’t we deserve a future, too?”
I reread my mountain of lucubrations, a humbling (and interminable) assignment. The fraction that might contain something salvageable I sorted into thematic piles: Family, Friends, Writers, Writing, Food, Death, etc. It interested me how often I reverted to certain themes. These piles I refined into longer essays that might be read entire. Sometimes, the progress of a chapter was chronological, sometimes thematic.
A few brave friends helped me as early readers. Their candid responses were invaluable. Jane did more than edit every word; she envisioned the flow and organization of chapters. She identified repetitions and inconsistencies. I have worked with editors for fifty years. Jane is in a class of her own. She understands, remembers, interprets, and passionately insists. Her critiques could bruise but they were always just. Affection, I believe, never blurred or mollified her judgment.
One huge thematic pile we ended up dumping, as we dumped its subject last November. Trump from his first emergence as a Presidential candidate epitomized for me the worst of human nature. I saw him as a danger to freedom and human survival. The variety and audacity of his evil dazzled me. More than a few readers chided me for my obsessive disgust. One day in a separate work I may remember how he changed me and our world, but here was not the place.
In Our Rift is the oldest title in the book, my first and, I suspect, best volume of poems. Poetry was my Penelope as a young man graduating from college: I saw my other writing as ways to support my habit. Alas, few people I knew read poetry and still fewer read the same poems. My prose is propelled by poetic principles.
Paddle's Last Gift is a souvenir of a beloved family member, a black Labrador, who lived in our love for nine years until he died of stomach cancer. It is dedicated to my daughter Becca, with whom Paddle had a deep bond. I still cannot read its final chapter without sobbing.
Dear David I wrote to our youngest child on the occasion of his bar mitzvah. It too makes me sob, but for a different reason. As some of you may know, two years after this small book appeared, David’s brain was overwhelmed by paranoid schizophrenia, with which he continues to struggle. That smart funny original lively personality vanished into a fog of fears. I had no use for a God who could do such things.
Gray Matter is a book of small essays, some very small, which I wrote during my early years with Jane, before we founded Daily Voice, an Internet company to deliver community news. Happy in my personal life (for the first time), I was feeling through my attitudes toward existence. It surprised me, when we came to edit Collected Words, how many of my themes first sounded here.
None of these books was written for a market, all for love.
Many of you have asked to see my words in a more durable form. Maybe you were just being nice but, hey, like anybody else, I assume all compliments are heartfelt. So I did it.
Collected Words will go to press March 15, 2021. It contains five books. The first is called, hold your breath, Good Morning. It is not a selection of missives, but a new book mined from that massive mountain, plus new material. The other four books are the best of those I’ve printed privately over thirty years.
This is a limited edition. Only copies that have been purchased in advance will be printed. None will be sold in bookstores or online. Please visit this website and buy a copy for yourself – and for any friends or acquaintances who might enjoy it. The more, the happier.
This is not a commercial venture. If we turn a profit, that’d be nice, but we don’t expect to. One day, perhaps, these words will be published commercially, but never this book. As with a limited-edition print, each book will be numbered and signed, and that will be that. I chose this curious – and old-fashioned – publication method, because my words are passionately non-commercial. I write not to entice the many, but to engage a few – you guys – whose judgments I respect and souls I love.
The book is expensive – as books go – for three reasons. First, at more than 750 pages, it’s big. Second, it’s beautifully produced – it will look handsome on a bookshelf as long as bookshelves persist. Third, being unique, it cannot rely on subsequent printings to cover initial expenses.
How worthy is the book? Well, it’s the best of me: I cannot make better. We will share more words – I hope many – in our time together, but I know now, whenever silence comes, I’ll have had my say.
Early readers found my book worth their while. Read responses from some of the smartest folks I know. Yes, they’re friends – but not friends who’d mislead. They say what they think.
Most important to me, Jane thinks my book is good. Yes, she’s my love; yes, she edited this enormity (brilliantly); yes, the book is dedicated to her. But those of you who know Jane or have read her over the decades know that she never utters a word that’s false. It’s not in her. And she told me, “This is a good book.”
Making this book has been an inspiring collaboration. Organizer-in-chief has been our prodigious daughter-in-law who figured out how to produce, market, sell, and distribute Collected Words with efficiency and grace. My kids kept me going when I really didn’t feel like it. My early readers deserve the croix de guerre. The present book is incalculably better than the bog they originally waded into. And then… did I mention Jane? Well, again! My reason for being and the reason for this book.
Since this is my words’ only chance to reach potential new friends, I’m counting on you to distribute it as generously as you can. I like to give and hate to ask – but for my words, my progeny, I’m willing to be pushy.
The print run for Collected Words will about equal the first printings of Montaigne’s Essays or Thoreau’s Walden. Look what happened to them.