Trees Make Sad Faces
The door creaked as my daughter’s head poked around the corner. “Daddy,” she said. It was five-forty five in the morning. I bookmarked the page I was reading.
“Good morning,” I said as she jumped into my lap.
“Four things,” she started, “one, we will go to Lydia’s house; two, we will read all the books in the world; free, we will go back to Lydia’s house; and sixteen,” her voice fell to a whisper, “we will go see your favorite movie: Curious George.”
“Today?” I asked.
She nodded. “Oh, and nineteen, we will eat hot chocolate.”
“Sounds like a good day.”
Looking over my shoulder and out the window, she changed the subject: “Do you see that pretty pink color in the big-blue sky?”
I turned. “The sun is waking,” I said, “rising over the edge of the world.”
“Beautiful,” she said. “I like pink. But what about all of the trees making sad faces?”
“Look,” she pointed. Bare and leafless trees were creeping over the edges of the window, obscuring the sunrise’s pretty-pink colors.
I kissed her on the forehead. “I guess they do,” I said.
“I have to go potty.”
We stood. I held her hand as I directed her to the bathroom. She hopped on the seat and smiled. “Daddy,” she said, “you have to leave. I need my pregnancy.”
I am wrapping up the third round of edits on my book. It should be done and fully submitted within the week. I am wrestling with my preface, however, and I need your help. The dictionary defines preface as: “a preliminary statement in a book by the book’s author or editor, setting forth its purpose and scope, expressing acknowledgment of assistance from others, etc.”
Here is my working preface:
“I am a veteran of the Iraq war. I am haunted by a question: Was I justified in what I did? I am also a practicing member of a faith community and of a body politic. A reality that leads me to a further question: Were we justified in what we did?
I killed; we killed.
How then shall we live?
My only agenda is to find the truth, for myself, and for us all.”
Any thoughts from the blogosphere?
Quotes I Think of Everyday
“You should never end a sentence with a preposition, at.”
Crawling Towards the Finish Line
Ten weeks and one-hundred thousand words later, I’ve finished my book. Oddly, it was an anticlimactic experience. I penned the final words, texted my wife: Done, and napped on the couch, which was followed by a lonely night of reading and sipping on fermented beverages. It was exactly what I needed. The process was fulfilling but hard, crammed with sweat, elbow grease, and scotch.
What’s next? I’m relaxing this week. Well, not entirely—I still have my day job. When my editor returns from vacation on the fifteenth, we’ll start the difficult process of editing and revising. The manuscript is due to the publisher by September first (here’s to late night cramming!), so we still have a long and unpaved road to ascend.
I’m aware that my rabid fan base is eagerly awaiting a book review. I apologize that I forced all six of you to wait. I probably won’t write any full reviews of my summer readings, but I will share with you what I’ve read and why. As a side note, it’s true: reading cultivates writing, which, in turn, facilitates reading. It’s a circle, a brilliant and clear circle.
I started the summer with Robin Hobb‘s Tawny Man Trilogy, which includes: “Fool’s Errand,” “Golden Fool,” and “Fool’s Fate.” I won’t lie. I’m a geek and I like fantasy. Hobb’s style has a way of drawing me in before ever-so-subtly slapping my brain. Her characters are both real and complex, in a way that compels you to rethink your own relationships.
I, actually, have a theory about Hobb’s style. She writes from the first-person perspective, which, I believe, has the power to seduce a reader like no other perspective. In third person—what I assume is the most common—there’s a brick wall between reader and narrative. I am aware that I’m standing outside and peeping through the story’s one smudgy window, watching events unravel. But in first person, I’m handed the keys that unlock another’s mind. It’s a big responsibility, but one that Hobb deftly handles. As the narrative unfolds, I am a participant. When I read Hobb, I’m rewarded with the experience of crawling inside the mind of another human being. And, when you’re writing a book, it’s pleasant to escape into the mind of someone else and forget—if only for a time. Hobb is a good writer and a better storyteller.
Next, I tore through Geoffrey of Monmouth’s classic, Historia Regum Britanniae or “History of the Kings of Britain.” Written in the twelfth century, I found a clear, concise, and engaging history. So what if it’s not true. It was awesome, like, from Troy-to-King-Arthur and the founding-of-Britain awesome. If you’ve read The Iliad, The Odyssey, and The Aeneid; Dante, Chaucer, and Milton; and dabbled in Teutonic Mythologies only to ask yourself: “What next?” Monmouth, that’s what. Read it.
I also read “Atlas Shrugged” by Ayn Rand. There’s a reason it’s a classic. Her ability as a writer is staggering; her conclusions, to me, were a bit nutty. But, hey, it’ll make you think. Oh, and if you’re wondering, the recent movie “Atlas Shrugged: Part I” stunk. It was weird and felt like watching illegally funded propaganda.
Lastly, I read Lev Grossman’s “The Magicians” and “The Magician King.” These are fun, one-sitting reads. Unlike Ayn Rand, they will not make you think—not in the philosophical-academic sense—rather they will whisk you away to a gritty and all-too-often real, though phantasmagorical, New York. I recommend these for anyone on vacation who doesn’t mind heaps of expletives—hysterical, hysterical, expletives.
For now, my lovelies, that’s all.
Words on a Shelf
I’m wading through chapter eight of my forthcoming book. Last weekend I wrote over seven thousand words. I’m tired and my head hurts. But when I saw this picture, excitement welled up within me. I share it with you.
Since I last wrote, I’ve finished chapter five and I’m halfway through chapter six. Things are moving along quite well. I’m fully engaged in rewriting my thesis. If things turn out the way I hope, then Peacemaking will read as a fiction narrative (though the events are non-fiction). If things go poorly, then it will suck, and I’m okay with that. In other news, my daughter asked me if we could pay our mortgage in gerbils. I said, “Yeah, I think that’s a great idea,” which, for the record, I do.
I just submitted Chapter III of my forthcoming book to my editor. The chapter is titled: Kuwait and Back. I’m finding that, ten years later, my memory is foggy. So, question: Is it misleading to call a book “non-fiction” when you are writing it from your imperfect memory?