Guest Post – Tom Herstad
My youngest sister, Julie, and I started a journey together 5 years prior. We interviewed people who knew our mother after mom’s passing in July 2011. We agreed that Julie would write the book about our mother’s life and, since I have a strong sales background, I agreed to follow through on the marketing and selling end of things.
Over the following three years after mom’s memorial service, we completed the interview process with 18 people. It was then that Julie was not responding to my calls, I knew something was up. Many weeks went by, and I finally showed up at her home in Belfountain, about an hour northwest of Toronto Canada. It was then that she expressed to me that she could not write this book. Something was holding her back. I could see her concern and frustration as she expressed this to me.
My response was ” Don’t worry. I will get this done. I will figure this out”. All the way home, during that 30-minute drive, I was wondering what I had just got myself into. However, I relaxed into the choice I had just made, consciously decided to keep my mind open and went directly to the computer as soon as I entered my home. I made my way to the dining room table, opened my laptop and Googled “How do you write a book?”. James Patterson immediately popped up on the screen with his Master Writing course introduction video. It seemed as though he was looking right into my eyes and my soul as he expressed “Don’t worry about the words, the sentences, the paragraph or the page. Just tell the story” I closed the computer and sat back in the chair. I thought to myself “I can tell stories”. I sat for a couple more moments, then it was up the stairs to bed.
That night, I woke at 3 am, put on my house coat and slippers, and found my way back down the stairs to the dining room table and started writing. For many nights, I kept this clockwork routine. I could not get back to sleep until the stories were purged from my mind onto the notes file of my laptop. I could write for an hour, or 4 hours, or more. I wrote until I was finished for the night, and then it was back to bed. Those waves of writing were never forced. If it did not come for a couple nights, that was ok. I run my own lighting design business, so I was able to work around the inspiration. I would go for walks in the fields and down by the river. I would go fishing. I would nap, listen to music. If I thought I needed to stay close to the work to find the next wave of inspiration, I would sleep in the loft at the top of my home, where I have made another writing space for myself. This 1922 farmhouse has an almost vertical climb to get up into space. I pinned the stories up on all four walls so I could see them, change the story order, or just sleep up there with the stories all around me
In three weeks, I had 68 pages done, and that is when I booked a vacation to Caya Coco, Cuba. I decided that I needed to go somewhere remote and on the ocean to make some major decisions. The main decision was the one to finish the book. This was a commitment I had to make to myself and it was to finish something that I did not know how to do. You would not believe what happened on that trip that took this project to a whole other level. Some people call it coincidence, but I have been taught by our mother there is only God-incidence.
The story of what happened on my trip to Cuba is included in the Preface to the book 2nd Line West.
Check it out at www.tomherstadofficial.com
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