I have been working diligently on some revisions and edits to my partial submission requests since my recent trip to Philadelphia. While I feel like I’m making progress, I need a brief break and had the idea to just write something silly today. That and I’ve been reminded recently that it’s important to thank the people in your life whenever possible. As always, as we’ve discussed in this space before, I never like leaving things unsaid. We always feel like we have all the time in the world, until we don’t.
I can’t be the only one who has pretended to hit the game winning shot, given an Oscar speech to the mirror, or fantasize the seminal interview with NPR’s Terry Gross from “Fresh Air.” I know in the privacy of our own minds, we all probably do the same silly stuff. If I’m honest, I’ve done some of those things more recently than is likely “cool” to admit, but there it is. I’m a dreamer, you could say.
As such, I’ve decided to write the acknowledgements for my novel. It’s not yet published, but I don’t see that as any reason to avoid putting it out there. I suppose it could change by the time it does all come together, but this is pretty much how it would look if I were asked to write it today for its impending publication.
Writing this book has been a genuinely interesting journey. Calling it “a long, strange trip” seemed hack, so I went with something else. These characters have inhabited my mind for a very long time and I am humbled by and grateful for the chance to finally share them with the world.
Along the way, people have asked, “Are these characters and events based on real people or are they completely made up?” In answer to that question, I will say simply, “yes.” Beyond that, it is my hope that everyone will find something to connect with in Avery and Angela and their adventure. A professor of mine at Wooster used to say, “once you create something and put it out there, it no longer belongs to you. Set it free and see what happens.” I think there’s something to that so that is what I’m going to do.
It’s taken over six years to get to this point, and I have to start by thanking my amazing team of Beta Readers. Outside of a free copy and that drink I owe them all, it’s a job that’s only perk is getting to read the versions of my stuff that are really not ready for the world. To a person they’ve been positive, helpful, critical, and the book would simply not exist without them. Well, it might, but it would really stink. Their comments and ideas helped shape the book you now hold in your hands and my gratitude is simply immeasurable. So, to my good friends, ATG, SY, JHE, GPK, HSK, and ACJ, I say thank you, thank you, thank you. And drinks are on me.
I want to thank my children. Between their patience with me when I had to finish one more paragraph, their interest along the way, and the amazing way they look at what I’ve been trying to do and see a creative way forward for themselves, I am so proud and grateful to be their father. Each of them have worked on book projects of their own and seem to really enjoy it. When they talk about their future, they say “when I publish” and not “if I publish.” I like their approach there and more than once their encouragement has been the thing that made me keep plugging along when, I felt like every word I was writing was utter garbage. They gave me the confidence to silence my inner critic. As the late John Updike once said on NPR’s Fresh Air (I’m kind of a fan) “Any sentence could be stifled by the critic in one, if you allow him to get the upper hand,” and I’m notoriously bad at letting that critic run loose at times. I like thinking that I’ve modeled something positive for them, but in truth, their honest and thoughtful support has been a model for me more than they probably know.
Both of my parents are gone now, but I think they would have really enjoyed my publishing a book, this story in particular. Wildwood is where they met and it’s been a vital part of my family’s life ever since. To this day, there’s a stone at the Lighthouse Avery and Angela visit that my sister and I had made for them. It says, quoting Bruce by way of Tom Waits, “’Down the shore, everything’s all right.” I see Wildwood not merely as a setting in this story, but as a supporting character. I know that my parents would have enjoyed that. I also don’t think it’s the last time I’ll visit it as a setting for a book…
My wife served as a Beta Reader, so I guess I’ve thanked her already.
But, I really haven’t. I think it’s safe to say that without the support of my wife, who I’ve known and loved now for going on 25 years, I’m certain I wouldn’t be sharing this or anything else with you. From the day we met she’s been my biggest supporter, biggest cheerleader and loved me unconditionally, which, knowing myself as I do, really could not have been easy. She never laughed at my dreams of writing. All she did was say, “go do it.” Life in any family is occasionally complicated and schedules and obligations abound, but she never gave me grief for staying up to late writing, never complained about discussing scene after scene and always brought me back from the brink of my own sometimes crippling self-doubt.
If this book, this story, these characters have an angel who’s been looking out for them, it is most assuredly my wife. She never gave up on me and never let me give up on them, or my dreams. So, as Gram would have said, I’ll “just say thank you.”
All the people above have made this a better book which I hope you enjoyed. They also made me a better person, to which Avery might say “that’s not nothing…”
It really isn’t. Thank you for reading. Stay tuned…