As my new book moves from creation to marketing and distribution, the initial questions I received from readers are about why and how.
The simple but incomplete answer to how is: “Five hundred words a day for 140 days.” That’s the math I did to get to a 70,000 word target. I found that I could sit at my laptop in the morning, write 500 words before 0900 hours and then get on with my normal work day at our investment advisory firm. The creative process in those 500 words then quickly changed to the analytical and mathematical processes of the investment world.
That leap was a key because as I actively worked on the nuts and bolts of investment risk and return, I soon found that my unconscious continued to churn through the day and night on what I had written and where it might lead the next morning. When I woke up and saw the next 500 words to flowing right out there through the keyboard, this became fun and reinforcing. My investment clients were not being ignored, and the investment work each day didn’t distract from where the story was leading.
It didn’t always work so smoothly, of course, and I had to stop and ponder or research to further develop what I sought to express. The 140 days turned into the better part of three years as the motivation and inspiration led to writing, then pausing to research and ponder, and on through feedback and editing, toward publication and cover design.
The why is in the inspiration. Some of that comes from an internal question I wanted to answer for myself, but much more comes from the inspiration that friends provide. At a basic level, I had always been proud that the challenge of a few cadets led to change at West Point. Its open violation of the First Amendment, thumbing its nose at the Constitution we all had sworn to uphold and defend, demanded change. It turned out that change was hard and burdensome and consequential. But why, my head down thriving in many ways at West Point, did I take it on?
The book answers that question for me. I started the work toward the answer physically re-tracing my father’s path in the 44th Infantry Division in World War II. This was no band of brothers packaged tour. No one I could find had done such a thing for the 7th Army through the Vosges Mountains to Strasbourg and across the Rhine in 1944-45. I researched and read and went there myself with others in my family to trace it all out.
The inspiration of moving through Europe in pursuit of my own background and motivation led to the deeper question of how my grandmothers and family members taught me the Baptist religion. What did I absorb there about individual free will and how that led to religious freedom? Did that all come from my family and those I grew up with in southern Illinois? Finally, how did that seem to differ from those who thought that compelled religious discipline and required participation was somehow a higher truth than our values of freedom expressed broadly in the American Dream?
I have answered my own questions in writing this book. Those who inspired me to do it will undoubtedly have more questions to ask, and I hope to answer them, and others from readers, as I write this blog going forward. I look forward to hearing from you.