Song—My Rottweiler is named Sadie. She is the happiest dog I have ever met and she fills me with joy every day.
Writing a book for me takes a very distinct path every time. First is the planning. This is kind of cumbersome. It promises a surge of creativity and a pushing of the borders. The ideas come for the world the book will be written in. A new city to plan. A new cast to conceive. The planning takes a few days. When it is done and the notes are on the wall, there is a sense of purpose, a feeling of a nearby storm. The birds and the rodents go into hiding. The crickets quiet. For it is coming, the beginning of the next story. The atmosphere in my office takes on a certain humidity. Everything in the house knows it is about to begin, and the day of, the storm rolls out of my mind.
Eastgate—I took a trip to pick up my sister for Christmas. I left five days early and spent it with a friend I had not seen for years. We reconnected and found our friendship again.
The beginning of the book is at once exciting and terrifying. What if I sit down and the story does not come out? What if I beckon a character and they do not come? What if I sit in my office for hours at a time and, at the end of the night, I have nothing? None of this ever happens, but the fear of it rides me for a few days. Then the adrenalin kicks in and I am off. One night after the next, I come downstairs. One night after the next, I pound out the story. I slam the space bar like a gavel striking a judge’s bench. Finality, victory, one more word in my world. One more thought captured on the document. Every word is a step toward championship. Every word is a brick in the wall of a new building in my sprawling city. I slam that space bar with confidence and verve, for this is all new. This is all exciting, and it is working. I am here, right where I need to be. And it is happening.
The Minstrel—The legendary knife, the Buck 110. The chosen knife of the Boy Scouts. The most recognizable blade this nation knows.
The adrenalin does not last. First 50-60 pages is blood-pumping glee. Then everything slows down. My desire to see more of the book I am writing is quenched. The work becomes less exciting, and I walk head down into the slog. From here until near the end, every word is work. From here until the end, I do not feel inspired. The ideas come without flare. The space bar is tapped. No gavel. No finality. No bricks or verve, just a slow walk to the finish line that lies so far ahead of where I stand there is no seeing it. Over 60,000 words lie between me and the end. And now everything is drudgery. Now I hate my job. Now I have a nine-to-five.
Purgatory—When I was eight, I got a knife pulled on me. My cousin jumped the kid who had it. She beat his ass and handed me the knife. It was a beauty, one of the most well-made, well known knives in the USA. This was the Buck 55. And my mother threw it away. It feels good to have it again.
Here at this stage of the book, I need a promise. I need to be able to look up and see the end, far in the distance, and still put one foot in front of the other, one word after the next, and stomp my way with dogged reserve to the end of the work. For now, hope is gone. I hate this book and I have too much farther to go to look forward to the end. This is when the shopping comes. It starts with a looking around my office. What is missing? What would I love to have that I don’t have? The eyes scan the car, the bedroom, my habits and hobbies. The eyes scan anything in my life that would be a luxury, a object just for me, an activity I would be able to look forward to that I would never splurge on for myself. I pick a trophy. I choose the one object that will inspire me to keep typing, because if I didn’t have one at this point, I would quit every time. But when I open a project, I have to finish it. It is a contract made with my wife, an oath made to the reader. The story will keep coming, and that means I need to finish the next book. I need an incentive, so I lock into my mind what it will be. And I work every day toward that goal.
The Great Hall—A nautical bell to hang on the wall behind my desk. I will ring it every time I finish a book. It will sound through the house, a statement of victory, a celebration we can all enjoy, for dad has finished another book. Husband and love kept his promise. We did it as a family again.
Every book comes with a trophy, an object or a event I can look back on and say, I earned that, and though it may not pay off in money for a long time, I can pick this object up. I can look at photos taken and I can remind myself that every effort in the world has a reward. Every job done, every task completed, pays off in some way. Be it a bell, a knife, time with a friend, or man’s best friend. Everything is worth working for.