Milestone: Book Contract!

Life is filled with milestone events. Births and birthdays. Graduations and commencements. Wedding ceremonies and wedding anniversaries. New jobs and retirement with membership in the Association of Mature American Citizens.

Over the years, I’ve experienced most of those milestones. Birth and new birth and birthday celebrations. (Mother and Daddy guaranteed only two birthday parties–at ages six and sixteen. I got the one at six.) I graduated three times. Got married once and have since celebrated thirty-eight anniversaries and am approaching the thirty-ninth. Had four daughters and three grandkids born with another on the way. And I’ve had my fair share of new jobs. The only milestone included in the first paragraph that I haven’t celebrated yet is retirement, but I’m fast approaching that one, too.

And now in my near-retirement years, I’m celebrating yet another milestone: I signed my first book contract today.

One of my favorite college professors, Dr. Walter Fremont, used to say that no one should write a book until he’s at least 50 years old. I never knew whether he was serious or joking. Either way, I surpassed his lower threshold for book publishing by several years–just to make sure I didn’t violate any unwritten rules–before I signed that first book contract.

I’ve edited a whole lot of books in my professional life. I’ve contributed a fair amount of text to a few books, too. And I’ve read more books than I could count. I’ve written enough words in articles to make up several books. But I’ve never actually written a book–until now. And it’s not going to be published by a vanity publisher that I have to pay but by an honest-to-goodness commercial publisher who is going to pay me!

I should be excited about all this. When I was younger and I reached a milestone, such as starting a new job or getting an award or seeing a new daughter, I could feel something in my chest, experience a heightened heart rate and a tantalizing shortness of breath and maybe a little tingle in my hands. That was the sensation of excitement. And I would smile and laugh, and I might jump around in a happy dance, do an arm thrust into the air, or even shout something like Ye-Haw! But not this time. I guess I’m just too old for that. Instead, I just smile, gaze contentedly at the contact before me, and relish the calm feeling of an old-age type of excitement. Maybe it’s because with my greater age comes experience, and that experience tempers my excitement with the knowledge that there’s still more hard work ahead of me. I still have to meet the deadline for delivering the completed manuscript and photos and permissions and. . . .

When all of that hard work is finished and I see the first copy of my book, maybe then I’ll get excited. I might even dance a little jig or even take my wife out on the town to celebrate–just as long as we can make it back home before my nine o’clock bedtime!

Stay tuned. Confederate Cabinet Departments and Secretaries (tentative title–not mine, but the publisher’s) by McFarland Publishing is coming!

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