There I was, staring at a version of my book—perfectly content with it—with a deadline I might actually hit for once and this fool-hearty belief that I might actually be on top of my shit.
And then my son was born.
Funny enough, as seismic as that event was, life seemed to hand-select this window of time to throw a dozen or so more curve balls at me as if I wasn’t all of a sudden juggling the biggest challenge of my life.
And because my almost-adorable protagonist has a self-destructive streak matched only by my own, halfway into my own first reread, I decided I wanted to completely rewrite the second and third acts of the book. The simple reason is that something about my son being born changed my perception, and for once, that’s the truth of it; I realized when my son was born that I wanted to try and push outside my usual approach and look for a new way to look at the story. The thought of legacy, of the cyclical nature of life—or so says Sir Elton John—and feeling myself in such a pivotal transitional point—made me want to try writing something that directly reflected that.
I know that’s why this was one of the first times I wanted to really try showing the growth, the change, in Janzen, instead of just discussing something reactionary or plunging into something purely action-based. I thought it would be cool to really focus on some of those flaws I so cheekily bring up as often as I can in a light that shows the effort Janzen makes to overcome them, to identify more humanly with struggles I think all of us can relate to when thinking about our own shit. At least that rings true for me, and I think even writing Janzen forgiving himself for some of his misdeeds was cathartic—I certainly hope, as he navigates some of those complex emotions with his simple process, that the readers can take a deeper meaning out of this story than perhaps the first two.
I was glad to write about tragedy, the consequence of trauma, but I can’t tell you how enriching it was to find traction in healing. To have characters demonstrate some newfound strengths, understandings, and even confidence. So, as much as it was complete mayhem to take such a severe pivot, I knew the bones of that lived in everything I wrote—I also knew that when the story was ready to speak to me that it would flow super freely.
I’m lucky it happened the way it did, and I’m even more fortunate to have such a badass team to help me get the book into fighting shape. I had a dear friend who used to tell me two simple words whenever I asked for advice: Always Forward.
It was nice to capture that in a story and hopefully pass that lesson on to my son.
~Larry Davis, new father and author of the Monsters and Men Trilogy