We talk a lot on this blog about just doing it — getting that novel written, setting aside time and energy to sit at your computer and peck at that keyboard until your fingers blister. It looks easy — you know, just type words and stuff — but anyone who’s tried to write a book knows that it’s damn tough. Kind of like parenting: You forget how tough it really is until you take the plunge again.
Recently, I had the honor of collaborating on a parenting book with former Navy SEAL Eric Davis titled Raising Men: Lessons Navy SEALs Learned from Their Training and Taught to Their Sons (St. Martin’s Press, May 2016). The collaboration was everything I always hope a collaboration to be — fun, interesting, and challenging, a project that pushes my limits as well as my collaborator’s in order to produce the best book we can. And I think we did that. (And to think, we wrote that puppy in 90 days!)
Eric recently wrote about the experience in a SOFREP blog post in which I had the honor of being called a “badass” (does it get any better than being called a badass by a Navy SEAL, the ultimate badass?). But that’s what you have to be in order to write a book. A badass. A person who doesn’t give up when the going gets tough, when the right words are elusive, when the editing never seems to end. As Eric says: Identify your objective; stalk your target, even when in doubt; collect intel; and convert that action and info into mission success. Whether it takes you 90 days or 9 years. (I added that last part.) He did it. I’ve done it. And you can too. Because you’re a badass. As Eric likes to say: Get some.
This is my cousin Jesse.
I babysat this little six-month-old pumpkin a few times over the past month, and I’ve enjoyed every delicious second, marveling over those chubby legs and cheeks and the newness of everything to that pair of big, innocent eyes.
I was giving Jesse his bottle of formula the other day and just hanging out on the couch wondering how on earth my own children had grown up so fast when my thoughts turned to my novel, Baby Grand, which features an infant, a little girl, who at the time of my book is about three or four months older than Jesse. I thought about how I had tried to draw upon my parenting experiences in creating that little character, her mannerisms, her personality, and the joy I had in doing so when it hit me — not once during the course of the book did anyone give that kid a bottle!
How could this be, I wondered, when I had so painstakingly detailed (or so I thought) what it was like to care for a 10-month-old child over a period of several days. There were the requisite Cheerios, the finely diced, peeled grapes, the many, many diaper changes. But, apparently, in all the murder and mayhem (Baby Grand is a thriller, after all), I inadvertently nearly starved one of my main characters by not giving her any formula.
So as I finally (finally!) finish this last edit of Baby Grand, I will be sure to incorporate a few formula feedings, or at least the mention of them, here and there. Thank you, sweet, sweet Baby Jesse (and, of course, Mama Irene) for the chance to have these tiny spurts of babyhood once again, which have not only reminded me of the gloriousness of life, but also of the ravenousness of infants.
This week, I wrote a business profile for CNNMoney.com on Akashic Books and the mega-success of the company’s new “children’s” book, the runaway hit, Go the F–k to Sleep.
The book has a great backstory: A guy, author Adam Mansbach, frustrated with not being able to get his daughter to sleep at bedtime, frustrated with how long the whole process was taking after trips to the bathroom and drinks of water, took his woes to Facebook and sort of just threw out there that he was going to write a book, titled, “Go the F–k to Sleep.”
And just like that, less than a year later, there’s a phenomenon.
As a writer, it just doesn’t get better than that, a story, in this case a personal one, resonating with millions. And the success of Go the F–k to Sleep shows that you just never know when a book will strike a chord with folks, if they’ll relate, laugh and buy.
So for all of you writers out there wondering if you should “even bother” trying to write a book or finish a book or pitch your book to agents and publishers, my advice is this: Get the f–k to work! We may not all write a bestseller, but there’s a good chance one of us might. And, as I’ve said in previous posts, who’s to say it won’t be you or me?
In the wee hours of this morning, at 4:34 a.m., my cousin gave birth to a 6 lb., 10 oz. baby boy named Jesse. Today, I will take my troop to the hospital to visit the happy mom and dad — and ecstatic grandma and grandpa — and to hold that tiny life in my hands, if they’ll let me. Yesterday, I spent the day at another hospital, for other reasons, and every so often a lullaby would play over the loudspeaker announcing the birth of a baby. At those times, everyone seemed to stop what they were doing, and there was a collective “Awwww.” New lives have entered the world. With new experiences to have. With new stories to tell. Yesterday, I heard my dad say — when one of those lullabies played — “Way to go, Clarence.” Way to go, indeed.