the next writer in the series: june 1, 2016

I have been looking into schedules. Even when we read physics, we inquire of each least particle, What then shall I do this morning? How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. What we do with this hour, and that one, is what we are doing. A schedule defends from chaos and whim. It is a net for catching days. It is a scaffolding on which a worker can stand and labor with both hands at sections of time.

On the first of each month,
a guest writer
shares
how he or she spends the day.

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photo credit: Robyn Regan

June 1, 2016: David Abrams

In a post on his blog, The Quivering Pen, on September 4, 2012, the day his debut novel, Fobbit, was published, David Abrams wrote,

Today marks a day I never thought would arrive. I thought I’d die an unpublished novelist and my wife would engrave “He tried hard, but….” on my headstone. 

I’m still laughing. What a perfect example of how with humor, David can scoop us all up and make us feel better about where we are.

By the end of that month, Fobbit, seven years in the making, would score this warm-your-heart review from the New York Times

I applaud David Abrams for sticking to his vision and writing the satire he wanted to write instead of adding to the crowded shelf of war memoirs. In “Fobbit,” he has written a very funny book, as funny, disturbing, heartbreaking and ridiculous as war itself.

And by the end of that year, just look at all this proof that hard work and showing up and not giving up can pay off in a big way:

—A New York Times Notable Book of 2012
—One of Amazon’s Top 100 Books of 2012 (#49)
—One of Barnes and Noble’s Best Books of 2012
St Louis Post-Dispatch 50 Favorite Books of 2012
Paste Magazine Best Books of 2012
January Magazine Best Books of 2012
—A B&N Discover Great New Writers Selection
—One of Publishers Weekly’s Top 10 Literary Fiction picks for the Fall
—Finalist for Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction
—2012 Montana Book Award Honor Book
—Millions Notables of 2012
—An American Booksellers Association IndieNext Pick
—One of Kirkus Reviews’s “10 Great Books That Willyyu Make You Laugh Out Loud”
—Daily Beast’s 2012 Best Books on Today’s Wars by Veterans
Library Journal: Fabulous Fall Firsts of 2012

One of my favorite descriptions of Fobbit is “a comedy about the tragedy of war.” Listen to the voice in the opening paragraph:

They were Fobbits because, at the core, they were nothing but marshmallow. Crack open their chests and in the space where their hearts should be beating with a warrior’s courage and selfless regard, you’d find a pale, gooey center. They cowered like rabbits in their cubicles, busied themselves with PowerPoint briefings to avoid the hazard of Baghdad’s bombs, and steadfastly clung white-knuckled.

And then these terrific details in the description of Gooding:

Of all the Fobbits in the U.S. military task force headquarters at the western edge of Baghdad, Staff Sergeant Chance Gooding Jr. was the Fobbitiest. With his neat-pressed uniform, his lavender-vanilla body wash, and the dust collected around the barrel of his M16 rifle, he was the poster child for the stay-back-stay-safe soldier. The smell of something sweet radiated off his skin—as if he bathed in gingerbread.

I read Fobbit back in September of 2013, before David and I were to be on a panel together at the Brattleboro Literary Festival to discuss building communities of readers and writers. David’s blog, The Quivering Pen, is a big part of the literary community, bursting at the seams with all of its features on and by writers and offering all sorts of peeks into writers’ lives and into books to add to our reading lists. Check out these regulars–Trailer Park Tuesday, My First Time, and Sunday Sentence.

By the way, I found that opening quote about the headstone when I was over at The Quivering Pen searching for a post I remembered about a letter he had written to his twenty-year-old self–a letter he wrote back in September of 2014 and which, as you can see, I have not forgotten. Click over to read the letter, and you’ll be hooked on David Abrams. If you haven’t clicked over yet, here’s a little enticement–but you’ll have to click to see the photo : )

You will experience an adrenal shot of pride and optimism when, two years into your efforts, a story you wrote about a young couple with a baby boy will be accepted for publication.  Best of all, you will be paid—real money—for this story, the first monetary transaction for your words.  It will feel like an IV needle of whiskey sunk right into your veins.  Your wife will take a picture of you sitting in your sun-soaked living room holding up that check.  Your smile will practically break the camera.  Nearly thirty years later, your wife will say to you, “Remember that moment?  We really thought it was the start of something big.”  You will smile a wry smile and reply: “It was the start of something big.  It just took thirty years for the big to get here.”

Come back on JUNE 1st to read how DAVID ABRAMS spends his days.

2 thoughts on “the next writer in the series: june 1, 2016

  1. Thank you Cynthia for this inspiring post. I am a writer who almost gave up the game but who has recently “renewed her vows” to the life mission. So I need posts like this one. Also I am excited about reading Fobbit. It sounds like the kind of book I will love.

    Liked by 1 person

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