A Nudge from the Universe

Today’s a big day. My first novel, The Clown Forest Murders, has been published. You can buy it right now.

The Clown Forest Murders Book

You SHOULD buy it. Despite charging for shipping, you can buy it directly from our publisherBlack Opal Books, and directly supports their efforts to enable the dreams of little authors everywhere. Plus, Jeff Bezos is already worth $100B. But I also have Amazon Prime, so I understand if you want to make your life easy.

But that’s not what this post is about. This post is about facing your fears.

During moments when I’m most indecisive, unsure or just plain unmotivated, I find the Universe is always available to give me the nudge I need. I might not always like it, but if I take a moment to look up, look out and look around, I’ll find the words of an author, the story of a business founder, the theme of a movie or just something in nature that provides clarity and direction. Sometimes it’s a gentle nudge, sometimes a slap in the face and sometimes a kick in the ass.

Today was such a day.

First, I’m tremendously blessed to have had the opportunity to collaborate with my father on this novel. I know that in my heart. That accomplishment alone is a gift. I wrote the original draft 15+ years ago, he dramatically improved it over the past few years by creating the thematic tension required for a thriller, and together we spent countless hours editing it. We could have spent countless more. Perhaps we should have.

And that’s the dirty little secret. I don’t claim to be King or Koontz or Grisham. But there’s an awful part of me that is screaming that this novel, candidly, isn’t very good. I’m quite sure there have been worse published. Hell, I remember tossing a book into the fireplace because it was just trash. But even if it’s just okay, I’m frankly embarrassed to even put it out there. I’m convinced many of my hyper-smart friends and hyper-accomplished peers will laugh at me. If I hadn’t written it with my father, he might laugh at me.

And so I have been both excitedly awaiting this day and anxiously dreading it. I want to be proud and yet I feel like a fraud.

Fortunately, the Universe was ready. Yesterday, my copy of Timothy Ferriss’ Tribe of Mentors arrived. (Side note – Tim was at Princeton the same time I was. He falls into the category of ‘hyper-accomplished peers’ that may laugh.) I decided to read a few bits before I went on a run.

In Tim’s introduction, he says the following:

On my coffee table at home, I have a piece of driftwood. Its sole purpose is to display a quite by Anais Nin, which I see every day:

“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.”

It’s a short reminder that success can usually be measured by the number of uncomfortable conversations we are willing to have, and by the number of uncomfortable actions we are willing to take.

Promoting this book is uncomfortable. But it exists for a reason. The genesis dates all the way back to my brother’s suicide. Soliciting my friends, talking about the book publicly, asking for reviews, claiming it as my own with all its warts….it’s all going to be uncomfortable. But the act of creation demands it. Nudge.

And only a few pages later, I was reading the advice from Steven Pressfield, who is beyond an accomplished writer. In just a few pages, his words leapt out at me like a smack in the face.

In answering a question on the impact of failure on his life, he says:”

‘I’d been trying to get published for about 15 years at that point. I decided to give up and move to Hollywood, to see if I could find work writing for the movies. Don’t ask me what movies I wrote. I will never tell . And if you find out by other means, BE WARNED! Don’t see ’em.’

Here is an exceptionally talented writer struggling with the same fear, doubt and questions I am struggling with. NUDGE! Read my book, but BE WARNED.

Later, he sums up a philosophy that perfectly resonated in this moment.

‘Real work and real satisfaction come from the opposite of what the web provides. They come from going deep into something – the book you’re writing, the album, the movie – and staying there for a long, long time.’

For me, this novel has existed in various states for nearly half my life. That’s a long, long time. At times I was deep in it. At times it was deep in a drawer. It may not be great. But it exists. And creation, real creation, is at the soul of my reason for existence.

Thanks Tim Ferriss. Thanks Steven Pressfield. Thanks Dad.

Thanks Universe.





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