I consider myself something of an closet chef. As an adult leader with Boy Scouts of America since 1979, I have charred more than a few “first pancakes” while camping. Even at home – in my own kitchen – getting the griddle perfectly prepared for pancakes is a challenge. Experience helps, but the first pancake often becomes a sacrificial lamb.
Thus it has been with my very first book, “Boyhood Adventures.” I enjoyed writing it because it was so reminicent of my early childhood in Texarkana, Arkansas. But, I made the mistake of rushing it into publication. I failed to employ a professional editor. I made goofy mistakes incumbent on first-time writers. I struggled with a re-write for a year, trying to correct typos and enhance character, all in an effort to get it just right. And … I think I was finally close to finishing it. Notwithstanding, a kind mentor, Beth Hill, sympathetically laid her virtual hand on my shoulder, and said, “Let it go, Aaron. It’s time to move on.” Hmm; seems like my wife has offered similar counsel … more than once.
So, while it wasn’t a ceremonious burial at sea, and while there was no playing of TAPS; no honor guard detail firing a 21-gun salute; I decided to follow good advice, and chalk it up to a lengthy practice exercise. And, surprisingly, I feel okay with it. I learned a great deal along the dusty, rocky road to oblivion. Above all, I have learned to accept a charred pancake when I see one. And, I have learned to listen to good, sound advice.
I’m not sad, actually, to see my first pancake tossed into the literary garbage can. I’m not elated … but I’m not sad. Finally, I’m released from flogging a dead horse. I’m free to be fully engaged in my next project. And this “second pancake” will benefit from all I’ve learned as a fledgling writer. With new hope, I strive for a pancake better than the first; golden brown on both sides. At least, that’s the plan. It will, no doubt, fall short of a best sellers list – again – but the lessons learned on my first book will enhance the second. Truly, I have come to find joy in writing, free from fear of imperfection.
Now I embark on a book much more important to me: Wings of Valor. I have aspired to writing this book since I returned home from Vietnam in September of 1968. And, even though I lived the experiences I’m writing of, I am nonetheless deeply engaged in historical research.
My deadline for submitting Wings of Valor to my editor will be 13 March 2016. I hope, once it’s published, the few fans/followers I have will receive it well.