As soon as I made the decision to become a stay-at-home dad, I also vowed to diligently write about my experiences and someday turn those completely legible, well-organized notes into a humorous, informative and entertaining book.
Well, that’s not exactly how it happened. In fact, that’s not even close. The first few years of looking after babies and toddlers can be a complete whirlwind of constant activity… dirty diapers, feedings, burping, playtime, bathing, puke clean-up, you name it. I found the last thing I wanted to do was jot down the finer points of my day as our family’s primary caregiver. Instead, any downtime became precious “me time”, and writing sounded like way too much like work. Surfing the internet while sipping on a third cup of coffee while baby was taking a nap was infinitely more appealing.
About four years into my training as a domestic engineer, I did manage to scribble out a very basic book outline, some chapter titles and a few notes in point form . These scraps of paper sat in a drawer for years – six to be exact, before I dug them out of our office desk, dusted them off and decided to give writing a book the old college try.
It was the ten-year anniversary of my drastic career change and with both kids in school full-time, I was finally finding the time to seriously attack this pet project. Detailing and describing my first decade as a stay-at-home dad seemed like the perfect format. Step one was trying to decipher my notes, which were not nearly as detailed, organized or legible as I had remembered them. In fact, the phrase “chicken scratch” could be used to describe my penmanship on some of the pages and I honestly couldn’t even read my own writing.
I had written down several anecdotes about my funny interactions with my young children, and while I ended up using many of the stories in my book, I found that I had completely forgotten some of them. Unfortunately, my cryptic notes were useless in helping to jog my memory. To this day, I still can’t remember what “Thank you raisin” is supposed to mean? That’s all the note said… Thank you raisin. I bet there’s a funny story there, but I’ll be damned if I can fish it out of the deep, dark crevices of my mind.
I have Bachelors degrees in both English and Journalism, but during the first ten years out of the traditional workforce, the only thing I had written was our yearly, two-page Christmas letter. Once I had made the decision to start writing this book, The first thing I did was announce my project in the annual letter. That way, all of my close friends and family would be fully aware of my master plan and I knew I could count on them to prod and pump me for information about my progress. It was now out in the open – I had to write this damn book!
It took me a full year to complete the first draft, and I learned quickly that you really have to take full advantage of writing when the spirit moves you. There were weeks when the book stalled out, only to see me fire it back up and write four chapters in a single day. The bottom line was, I really enjoyed writing something substantive, something extremely personal, something longer than a two-page Christmas letter!
After completion, I made the mistake of asking Lianne to proofread and edit my masterpiece. She said she would do it, but weeks turned into months and I came to the realization that I shouldn’t have asked my wife to tackle a 40,000 word document in her spare time. It turns out, she actually has a full-time job! A proofreader was hired, and did a great job dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s.
After that, I mailed it off to a local literary agent for a manuscript evaluation. To be honest, I was planning on self-publishing, but I figured this evaluation could give my book some professional polish. She not only had some excellent notes and recommendations, but she also signed me on as a client. To my complete and utter surprise, I actually had an agent! Then, for the next eleven months we tried like the dickens to sell my life’s work to forty-six publishing houses across Canada and the U.S.
We received several terse “no thank you’s”, some very nice comments from publishers who wanted to let me down easy and one MAYBE. A publishing house in California kept us on pins and needles for about a month before finally bursting our bubble. Alas, it was a firm NO. We never even had a nibble from another publishing house after that. So, I finally decided it was time to pull the plug on the dream of securing a fancy book deal, and start a new dream of self-publisihing… which is exactly what I have done. I successfully launched Dad@Home: Fully Domesticated in December 2016! I hope it was worth the wait.
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