A Bedtime Story

It is a surreal evening for your old friend the Madchronicler on this side of the proverbial wormhole of existence, guys. In case you don’t follow me on Facebook or Twitter (and I’m not going to pitch those two sites, again; if you want to check them out you can link them via the “ABOUT ME” page of this blog), I just signed off on the final proofs for the e-book versions of ENDWORLD – A NOVEL. I did so while Natalie slept soundly upstairs (and hopefully will continue to do so despite the fifth tooth she has coming in, presently) and Cara sat beside me, her eyes glued to an episode of “Dora the Explorer.” We were a vision of the 21st Century tech family: Me with my laptop opened on my lap and her with the iPad opened on hers. I wish I’d taken a picture. But there’ll be plenty of time for that in the days, months and years ahead.

After her episode of Dora ended and after I “slept” my laptop, we commenced our nightly routine: We called Nicole and said goodnight. We brushed our teeth. We took our Pinkalicious and Purplicious vitamins (the former for Cara’s ear infection). We went upstairs, has a drink of water and Cara climbed into bed. I told her I loved her and that I’d see her in the morning. And then? Cara asked me to tell her a story.

“What kind of story?” I asked her.

“A Nemo story,” she responded.

Jesus, I thought, Nemo, again? I opened my mouth and started to tell it but then I stopped myself. I asked her if she wanted to hear a different story. She asked me which one and I told her the following:

Once upon a time, there lived a little boy who never could quite fit in no matter how hard he tried. He wasn’t really good at sports and he was kind of shy. But the one thing he could do well was write. And he loved writing. His first story that he ever wrote was a full-length short story about meeting his then-musical idol. He even illustrated it. As he got older, his interests branched out and he started writing about other things. Book reports and term papers, at first. Essays, too, but not just essays about history and literature. He wrote essays for fun.

Then, sometime around his 17th or 18th Birthday, he started writing a novel. That novel? He realized pretty quickly that it stunk really badly. He shelved it and reconsidered writing something as daunting as a full-length novel. But then, one summer day, he was inspired by a musty basement and the promise of a vacation that he would be going on in a week. So he started another novel. That novel? He kept writing it. After months and months of working on it he finally reached the end, and in a fit of composing that he has been unable to duplicate since, he completed it. He wrote the words “THE END” on the last page. And then? 

He kicked the power cord out of the wall and his computer shut off. And he realized that he had neglected to save the last 15 pages he had typed on his old, 286 HP with the Monochrome Screen. He thought about giving up then, too, but in the end? He decided that he wanted to finish what he’d started. So he stayed up all night and he did. And as the sun rose outside, he wrote “THE END” a second time. And that time? He remembered to save it. He was a shade over 19 then and he had completed his first novel. In his mind, the sky was the limit. 

But over time? Life interfered. He fell in love, had his heart broken, fell in love again, went away to school, had his heart broken again, had many life experiences, met many new people who have remained his friends… his brethren, since, graduated college, embarked on a career, rose up through the corporate hierarchy of Today’s Neighborhood Drugstore, fell in love again, didn’t have his heart broken, abandoned his “career” after 13 years, started a new one, got married, bought a house, had a couple of kids, flirted with a Master’s Degree, missed a requirement by 0.25 points, decided to hold off on school and then? Finally? After years and years of toying with the idea, he picked up the novel he had written “THE END” on the last page of 15 years previously and started over. He rewrote it… rebuilt it from its foundation up. And at long last? He completed it, wrote “TO BE CONTINUED” and not “THE END” on the last page of it and began the task of preparing it for publication. He succeeded. And on April 22, 2013 at approximately 8:45 PM while his daughter sat next to him playing on the iPad and the Phillies game played in the background? He clicked the “SEND” button on an email and posted to Facebook and Twitter simultaneously:

“Proofs? Signed off on. It is now safe to COMMENCE HAPPY DANCE!”

The End.

By the time I had finished speaking, Cara’s eyes had grown heavy and she was teetering on the border between sleep and wakefulness. But she opened her eyes briefly and asked me, “What was the little boy’s name, Daddy?” I smiled and ran my fingers through her Rapunzel-esque long hair and replied with, “What do you think his name was, Bear?” Do you know what her response to that was fellow denizens of this, my subjective reality?

I sh*t you not. Her response? “Frank.” Yep. In my moment of triumph and serendipity, I was PWN’d by my almost four year old daughter. Don’t believe me? Ask her yourself. Cara’s as sharp as a tack. Some days I swear that she’s four going on 16. But do you know what? I wouldn’t have it any. Other. Way. While her attitude is often enough to make the short hairs on the back of my neck stand on end and she’s spent her share of time in a time out since she turned three almost a year ago, I’m pleased with her development as a person. She’s always been fiercely independent… always been able to manipulate Daddy and Mommy. I don’t see it as a flaw, though. I see it as character. Because really? When I or Nicole need her to help us clean up, or bake Pinkalicious cupcakes, or play with her sister et cetera, et cetera, nine out of 10 times she does it. I’ll trade a little back talk and PWN’ing for 80-90% cooperation any day of the week, won’t you?

And that, guys? That’s my bedtime story this momentous evening in late April of 2013. It’s funny: I haven’t even published the damn thing yet and already I feel at peace. I guess the whole publication-thing is academic at this juncture, right? I mean, I’m going to publish it, and I’m going to do so soon. And people are either going to like it or not like it. Some may love it and some may despise it. But in the immortal words of a once little known, soon to be widely (I hope) known tragic hero of modern fiction named William MacNuff:

I write the following account not to heal the ills of a sick and twisted world: A world of lush forests at dusk grown cold by the emergence of chrome and steel. A world in which a concept like hope is extinct, drowned as all things once youthful and optimistic by the rivers of blood that flow down the distant, eight-lane, asphalt super Highway…

No. I write the following account to heal myself.

I write… I wrote ENDWORLD – A NOVEL originally to heal myself. Originally. In the end, though? I wrote it not just for me, but for Cara. For Natalie. For all of you: My fellow inhabitants of this side of the proverbial wormhole of existence. It’s yours, now. Enjoy it. I’ve got another one that I need to get working on.

For those that have inquired about a date of publication, I’m targeting May 1, 2013. May 1 = May Day which feels very symbolic to me. Furthermore, the publication date is not the last little bit of news that I will be providing you in the near future. I’m working on a couple of other… things that I hope to launch simultaneously with the book. They’re still in process, right now, but as soon as they are ready to go, rest assured: I will let you know.

And with that? I. Am. Done. For this evening, that is. Your old buddy the Madchronicler will be back real soon. But for now? Frank Marsh is going to get some sleep. G’Night, all.

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