Eight years in the making

Eight years in the making

by Christy Smith

Writing is in Nick Proctor’s blood.

On Feb. 14, Proctor, assistant professor of history, received his first copy of “Bathed in Blood: Hunting and Mastery in the Old South,” his first published book.

The book is an historical account of the 19th century southern slave hunter.

“One day I went to the library to find a book on hunting in the south but the book did not exist,” said Proctor. “It never occurred to me that slaves hunted. But there was no book about the topic. So I decided to write the book.”

Proctor began researching for his book in 1994 while in graduate school at Emory University in Atlanta. The book took six to seven years to write while the research for the book took a year or more.

“For my research I spent in all a year or a little more,” Proctor said. “I searched 11 to 12 archives in the states of Louisiana, Georgia, Virginia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Maryland and Washington, D.C. I spent nearly one whole summer on the road. With a project this big there is always a tremendous amount of research.”

According to Proctor, the title of his book is a made-up tradition.

“After the killing of the first deer a more experienced hunter bathes your face in the deer’s blood,” said Proctor. “It wasn’t a real tradition at that time, but it is now a deer hunter’s tradition.”

Proctor also chose the topic for his graduate school dissertation.

“I first wrote about the topic of slaves and hunting for my dissertation and then expanded to make the book form,” said Proctor.

After graduate school, Proctor found less time to focus on his book.

“For two years I was doing research and writing for most of my time. But then I began teaching at Simpson. Teaching became the main focus of my life for three and a half years,” said Proctor.

One of the most challenging aspects of writing the book, according to Proctor, was the review and rewrite process.

“I sent my manuscript to an academic reviewer, who let it sit on his desk for months and then sent it back to me so I could work on it over the summer. Then I sent it back to him again, with this going on for months. The process seemed endless. The whole thing just moved in jerks and starts. Months go by where nothing happens,” said Proctor.

There was a time, however, when Proctor said he lost excitement for his book.

“I reached a point about two years ago where I knew the book was going to be published but wasn’t excited about it anymore,” Proctor said. He also said the entire process of actually publishing a book is boring.

“The publishing process is incredibly boring. Four publishing editors approached me. I went with University Press in Virginia. I never imagined writing a book would take this long,” Proctor said.

Writing is in Proctor’s family blood line.

“My mother is an art critic, my grandfather is a historian and novelist and my uncle is a screenwriter,” Proctor said.

He said a novel will be his next writing project.