One of the last memories I have of my dad is going over to my parent’s house with Missy, Kyle, and Noah to cook out on the grill. He loved grilling steaks and having us over for dinner.
After the charcoal bricks were lit, and while we had a few minutes until they were ready to cook on, my dad and I sat out on the porch, waiting and listening to the sound of my boys playing inside.
He asked me what was new in my life. I told him about work and the boys. I hesitated, but finally decided to share that I was working on my first novel. I said it was going to be called The Senator.
My dad wanted to know what it was about, so I told him. He asked questions. Lots of them, which I didn’t expect, but should have. He asked me if I wanted to write full time, and I said that I did. I told him that it was my dream. Part of me wondered if I was going to get a lecture on the importance of providing for my family. Or that I shouldn’t get my hopes up. Or that maybe I was dreaming too big.
But sitting on that porch, my dad gave me the greatest gift he could have ever given me: he said that he believed in me. He thought that I could do it and was really excited for me. So I kept writing.
Over the next several months, as I neared completion of that first novel, I wasn’t exactly sure how it was supposed to end. But my father passed away the day before I wrote that very last chapter.
Suddenly, I knew what had to be written and I created an inner drive for my fictional hero that I continue to write about in my novels: to stop striving for success… instead, strive for significance.
In just over a year since I finished that first novel, I’ve written three. They’ve received over 1,200 reviews and I’ve had just as many emails from fans telling me they love them. The readers tell me how much they mean to them. How they stayed up all night and couldn’t put them down. How the characters seem real. How the lesson my hero learns at the end of each book stays with them.
My dad never got to read my book. But he’s in it, along with what he taught me, and always will be.
I don’t know if I’ll ever be a full time writer. But because my dad believed in me, I learned an important lesson in the process: to stop worrying about success and instead, strive for significance.