Two years ago today, I woke up on a Sunday morning, the day after an important conversation with someone close, and wrote the following letter:
I’m writing to offer you a complimentary copy of my book, Iron Man Family Outing. I believe this book may be of interest to you. I would be very happy to provide you with a copy at no cost to you, shipping and handling included.
There’s no catch here and no hidden agenda. The simple fact is that I printed more copies than I’ve been able to sell, and I don’t want the remaining copies to go to waste.
Over the years, I’ve received many positive, enthusiastic responses from folks who’ve read and enjoyed this book. I’ve also discovered just how difficult it is to promote and distribute work of this nature. My primary interest now is to get the remaining copies of my book to people who would find it personally meaningful.
I’m enclosing some introductory information about the book, including a brief excerpt. Please contact me if you would like to receive a copy or if you need any additional information.
Author, Iron Man Family Outing
With that, Iron Man Family Outing, published in the fall of 1990 and then forgotten and presumed dead for the next seventeen years, was reborn.
I didn’t have a website two years ago today. I didn’t have a blog. I didn’t have even one reader review for Iron Man Family Outing at Amazon, or anywhere else on the web for that matter. All I had was a closetful of unsold books and a renewed conviction that it was important that I get them out to people who could make use of them.
In the two years since that day, I’ve contacted over 1800 individuals and organizations around the world, and sent out nearly 900 copies of Iron Man Family Outing to recipients in the US, Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. It’s now being used worldwide by therapists, counselors, men’s groups, and organizations that work with men as an aid in the exploration of masculine psychology and men’s issues, and as a resource for men who grew up in dysfunctional, abusive, or neglectful family systems. It’s been ranked in the top 20 poetry books and the top 35 books on father-son relationships at Amazon.com, based on reader reviews. I’ve made new friends and allies all around the world who are working to help men grow and heal. And I have the most unexpected result of all, the completed manuscript for a brand-new book: Scapegoat’s Cross, my first new work in nearly twenty years.
It’s clear to me now, in retrospect, that events in my life had been leading me back to my unfinished business with the Iron Man Family Outing project since 2004, but I didn’t know that two years ago today. All I knew was that I woke up on a Sunday morning with a letter in my mind and an undeniable imperative to finish what I’d started all those years ago, to see my original vision for the book through to its completion, even if I had to give away every copy I had to do it.
I don’t know where this process will lead me in the future. Two years ago, I never expected to be where I am with this work today. I hadn’t written a line of poetry in over fifteen years. I was haunted by my failure to find an audience for Iron Man Family Outing and considered myself dead as a writer. Fortunately, things have changed.
Well, not everything has changed. I’m still fighting the battle of “soul versus survival” daily. Some days are harder than others. As I wrote almost a year ago in a blog entry entitled “go crazy or starve”:
Every morning when I wake up and don’t have time to write because some meaningless job is demanding its daily pound of flesh in exchange for a little more survival time, I feel like I’m terminating a pregnancy. It’s absolutely wrenching. I start the day sad, furious, and hopeless.
It’s still happening. It happened yesterday. I could feel something coming and I made some notes, but there was no time to allow it to develop or complete. It may come back to me. It may not.
But I’m fighting to keep the channel open, even if it means suffering the pain of losing all those things I never get to finish, because the last two years have shown me that it matters that I keep trying and do what I can, and because two years ago today I began to remember, for the first time in over fifteen years, who I am and what my life is about.
A meaningless job is going to eat my morning again today, but I woke up about two hours ago at 4 AM, after a couple of hours of restless semi-sleep, and realized I couldn’t let this anniversary go by without observing it in some way. This is my life now. The work drives me, it nags at me, it makes me miserable and keeps me awake until I tend to it.
It’s hard, it’s demanding, it’s draining, it doesn’t leave me much time for anything else, and sometimes it feels like it’s just too much for me. It also keeps me alive. And I’m okay with that.
The Two years ago today … by Rick Belden, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.