What is a Soldier’s Inspiration to Write a novel in Afghanistan?
What made you want to write a book?
I’ve been asked this question countless times over the past year and my silent responses range from “What you don’t think I could” to “Why not” to “I was inspired to do so.” My actual answer depends on my mood that day, how the question was phrased, and the person’s tone. Before I can answer that question I think you should learn a little a few things about me, things most people don’t know.
I’ve always loved to write and always did well in school in writing. (Math is a different story.) Of course my grammar always lacked and my inability to complete term papers until the night before they were due had an effect on my grades. In reflection, as I constantly research grammar rules on the internet, I do wish I had paid better attention in middle school English! I don’t regret waiting until the last minute though. I work best under pressure.
I have an active imagination and am a lifelong reader. When I was a kid I could easily read a book a day in the summer. I owe my mom for instilling in me an obsession of books. Thanks, Mom! The first book that really made an impact on me was Where the Red Fern grows by Wilson Rawls.
I grew up wanting my own Old Dan and Little Ann. I now have them, but they aren’t red ticks hounds or named Old Dan and Little Ann. They’re vizlas named Stella and Sammy and you’ll read a lot about them in this blog and my book.
I just read Where the Red Fern Grows again for inspiration and it still breaks my heart.
Okay, back to the initial question. I wrote Paws on the Ground because I needed to and the book needed to be written. I wrote it for myself, but I also wrote it because the general public needs to know what our dog teams are doing on the front lines in our fight against tyranny.
I’ve been deployed five times. It is never easy. You miss your family and friends, worry about them and count the days until you will be with them again. I’ve always found the mental aspect of being deployed so much harder than the physical. Traditionally I’ve found refuge through working out in the gym and running. The problem is I have torn ligaments in my right wrist, a herniated disk, two bulging, and degenerative disk disease in my back. So my ability to express myself through exercise has been significantly reduced. I had no outlet this last deployment to Afghanistan and desperately needed one.
I remember the moment the idea of writing a book popped into my head vividly. I was in Kabul. It was early November, 2010 and US forces lost three dogs and two handlers to the enemy in a single day.
We had a really bad few week period where we were losing dogs or handlers almost every day. I was reading the reports and thought to myself, people need to know what these kids and their dogs are doing out here. These kids and their dogs are heroes.
At the time I was reading a lighthearted book about a vineyard in Tuscany and thought to myself, I could do this. I can write a book. In fact I’m gonna write a book. Yes, it was as easy as that. I just decided one day to do it.
So to summarize why I decided to write a book: I wrote Paws on the Ground to educate the public on dog teams in the current day battlefield. It then became my outlet, my obsession and something I needed to help me through the challenges of being deployed in a combat zone.
The book is still my obsession and I’m working on getting it published while simultaneously working on the next novel in the Paws on the Ground Series.
What in your life have you just decided to do and then accomplished it?
How did it work out for you?
What is your outlet from stress?
So I had the inspiration which is great. But how the heck do you write a book?
I explain how I started in the next post.
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