Write what you know. That's standard advice for writers. As a columnist, that works for me. Since I don't have to write much, it doesn't matter that I don't know much.
And then there are people who can write entire books about what they know. Dale Cyprien, of Lawrenceville is one of them. His book -- "A Dream Realized, Then Lost (But That's Not the End of the Story)" is sub-titled "A Profile of an Ethics-less America." But it's not as dismal as it might sound.
Cyprien dreamed about owning his own business.
"People who worked for themselves were the masters of their fate. They were the captains of their souls. Or so I thought," Cyprien said.
When he attempted to make that dream come true with a friend he'd known for nearly two decades, the friend's unethical practices soon brought his company to ruin. Cyprien discovered that his experience was not all that uncommon.
"Ethics in America is on a steep decline," Cyprien said, "so I am writing this book to help others avoid the pitfalls."
The book reads partly like a novel and partly like a textbook as Cyprien includes thought provoking questions at the end of each chapter.
Despite his bad experience, Cyprien's book has a happy, and even inspiring, ending.
"Amazingly, the loss of my dream placed me in situations that caused new dreams to be birthed," Cyprien said.
Carolyn Weeks May, of Lawrenceville, writes what she knows through poetry. It started in 1985 when economic times were so tough she couldn't afford to send her grandmother a birthday gift. So out of the clear blue she wrote a poem.
"I had to borrow a stamp so I could mail it," May said. "My grandmother said it was the greatest gift she received."
May, who never liked poetry, even when she was an English teacher, began filling file folders with her verses. While working in the funeral business, she shared a poem with a bereaved family and was encouraged to have it published. Since then, she has published two books, "Reflections of His Love" and "Lily of the Valley," filled with hundreds of inspirational poems, complete with commentary about how she relates to her words through personal experience. May now works with a prison ministry and is writing yet another book to encourage and inspire people with her poems.
On a lighter note, local musician Dave Craver has written a book titled, "Make Music, Make Money." Craver, whose mother was a professional musician, practically grew up on stage. In 1998, he founded Open Mic, an opportunity for serious musicians to take a step beyond Karaoke and do "the real thing" with no canned music in the background. Today there are more than 1,100 Open Mic opportunities all over the world including about a dozen in Gwinnett County. Yes, at Open Mic, you work for free, but for those wanting to move on and make money for their music, Craver wrote the book on it.
Susan Larson is a Lilburn resident. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.