“River gets deeper not shallow,
the further you move down the stream.
Wonderin’if I can keep her as I
race to keep up with my dreams.
How they shine and glitter and gleam.”
Jimmy Buffett, “Wonder Why We Ever Go Home”
I have often been amused by the karma of life. Things happen, and you find yourself looking to the sky, saying, “Okay… message received…”
For those of you that have not heard yet, the news finally arrived a few days ago. My book was accepted for publication!!! There are some more edits to be done, a few tweaks and some fine tuning, but the contract is signed. The deal is worked and the dream has come to fruition. A new chapter, if you will, has been written, and the story takes on a whole new plotline.
Yes, friends and neighbors, you will soon be able to go to Amazon.com or walk into your bookstore and glance up at the shelf, and, right there, in living color, will be a book with my name on the cover as the author. And, for the record, DAMN, it feels good…
And yet, there has been one thing missing from the equation that would have made the event perfect…
This week is a rough one for me. My mom’s birthday is March 16th. She would have been 71 this year. The one thing I wish I could have done is put that contract in her hand and say, “Check it out! All those stories I made you read, all those nights you made me stop typing on that old Remington and go to bed, all the wadded-up paper you made me clean up. The notebooks full of ideas that I left all over the house, the ones I would get mad if you flipped through them without asking. All the trips to the library and the bookstores when you had to drag me out because I didn’t want to leave. All that stuff finally paid off, Momma…”
Knowing her, she would have sat there and read every word of the contract, eyed me for a few moments, and said, “You did it, kiddo. You really did it.”
I have to confess, I have this mental image of my mom, up in Heaven, gently nagging a few folks. Tapping St. Peter on the shoulder a few times a day, saying very quietly, “When you get a moment, I want to talk about my son’s book with you.” Easing up beside God and saying, “When is the last time you read a good book?” My mom could drop a hint like nobody else. If there is such a thing as heavy-handed subtlety, my mom could have claimed it as her superpower.
The main character in my book has all sorts of issues with his mother. They bicker, they fight, she offers her opinions on his life and the choices he has made. She still thinks he needs to get his hair cut more often, that he smokes too much, and that he needs to eat healthier. He rolls his eyes when he sees her call on his phone, but he answers every time and lets her say what she thinks she needs to say. He would rather stab himself in the eye with a fork, but she’s his mom. He loves her for all her opinions, and she offers all of her ‘advice’ because she loves him.
Needless to say, the parts of the book that concern my main character and his mother needed very little research. Every word of those moments was written with a smile on my face and love in my heart.
For the past ten days or so, I have been trying to work on the manuscript for the second book. Keeping my mind on the task, though, has been almost impossible. My mind keeps going back to my mom’s birthday coming up, and the fact that she is not here now to celebrate it. It saddens me that she is not here to share this moment and the moments to come. But, I know that this moment is the result of my mom encouraging me to read every book I could get my hands on. She told me many times that, if I liked a book, it was because the person who wrote it had a gift for telling stories, and that there was no reason why I couldn’t do the same thing. She bought me hundreds of notebooks and read every one-page story I wrote. When librarians would tell me a book I had chosen was too ‘grown up’ for me to read, my mom would look at them and ask, “Why would he want to read a book that was too childish for him?”
Folks, I have a book that is about to be published. When the date of publication is decided on, be assured I will be shouting it from the mountaintops and posting it to every friend I have. And I fully expect everyone to pass the word along to others. But there will be a one copy of the book that I will be saving. One copy will be for mom…