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Life Is Short, Laundry Is Eternal: Confessions of a Stay-at-Home Dad

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Life Is Short: Where do I Sign

It was the Monday after Lynne's pitch meeting and I was folding laundry when my phone rang. This would seem like foreshadowing if I wasn't practically always doing the laundry. I was standing in Arden's room, putting her clothes onto hangers when I heard Lynne's voice come through the phone. I have to admit that I knew right away that her call must be good news. I mean, who would call with bad news that early in the week?

My table of contents and outline made a good impression at the pitch meeting and I was going to be offered a contract to complete a book based on my idea. Lynne's words took my breath away. I almost immediately pictured a book spine with my name on it. The little boy inside of me, the one that always wanted to write, he was smiling! I didn't know that I could still feel so childlike at my age.

We spoke about the reality of delivering a manuscript and when Lynne asked me if I could do it, I said "yes" immediately, but I had no idea to be honest. The most I write on Arden's Day is seven hundred, maybe a thousand words at a time. I had conscientiously taught myself to be brief for blogging (I know that I do go on longer sometimes) and I wasn't 100% sure that I could write in a longer form in a meaningful way but I was going to find out. A number of days later I was reading my first book contract, it's no windfall mind you, but I was inching closer to becoming a published author and it felt astonishing freeing and terrifyingly constraining all at once.

I'd tell you more about what Lynne said on that call but who knows, I can't remember one word that she spoke after the reality sunk in... I was going to write a book. My brain was throwing a party and dancing with a lamp-shade on it's head. When the music stopped I pulled myself together and called my wife. I told Kelly that Lynne asked me if I could delivery a manuscript on time, Kelly replied, "can you?".

"Yes, I think I can..."

I spent a couple of weeks finding out the true answer to that question. I wrote at much greater lengths to find my voice in long-form. I wouldn't call what I wrote an outline, that wouldn't be fair to outlines. It was perhaps more like a stream of conciseness about what I thought the book was. Some of the sentences in that exercise exist now in the book, some times word for word and others in tone or theme. Mostly, I just needed to prove to myself that I could tell my story in a way that hopefully would be meaningful and well received. 

I was nervous during that process for reasons that had little to do with writing a book. First off, this was a life-long dream. I couldn't imagine what I'd feel like if crafting a book was something that I couldn't do. What if I had no ability to accomplish the thing that I spent two decades believing that I was meant to do. What if it sucked? What if I like it and no one else responds to it? What if I let my wife down? I remember vividly being in my early twenties and telling my then girlfriend that I wanted to be a writer. Now here I am almost twenty years later and I was getting the chance to make good on my wish. I didn't want to let Kelly down, I didn't want to let myself down and I really wanted my kids to see that wishes can come true. Most of all, I wanted to write a book that impacted someone. I wanted to make a difference. So I wrote and wrote and didn't stop until I loved my voice at three thousand words the way that I do at seven hundred. When I found my legs, I typed out the first topic from my table of contents onto a blank page and began to write you a book.

I didn't have the courage to read those first words for a few days. When I did finally find the nerve, I never looked back.

In my next entry Life is Short: Writing I want to tell you about the catharsis that accompanied me as I wrote. It was a once in a lifetime feeling that I wish for everyone and a gift that I won't ever forget.


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