A few years ago, I’d just typed the last words to a novel entitled, The Rockin’ Chair, and had mixed emotions about finishing it. Although I felt excited and relieved to be done, I was just as sad to walk away from some characters that I’d grown attached to. I remember jumping in the shower and thinking about which restaurant I should take my wife to – to celebrate, as well as start making up for all the time I’d spent alone in my head. As quickly as the right restaurant came to mind, though, so did another idea.
I was thinking, There really aren’t enough hours for everything that needs to get done when the value of time hit me like a sledgehammer. I still remember standing there – the hot water pelting my face – when the question came to mind: What would you do – I mean, really do – if you only had twelve months left to live? My mind took off at a sprint.
After a wonderful meal, we ordered dessert and coffee. That’s when I asked my wife that very same question. She looked at me and started to answer when she stopped and smiled. “It’s going to be another book, isn’t it?” she asked. I smiled, offering a half-shrug. “And you’re going to spend months writing about a guy who’s dying…”
“Not at all,” I told her. “I’m going to go on a journey with a man who will be forced to find the extraordinary in the ordinary; someone who will learn to appreciate every single breath he takes.” I laughed. “Trust me, he’ll be too busy living to be dying.”
After agreeing that I’d take a few weeks off, we left the restaurant talking about what we would do – given that we only had months to live. The answers surprised us both.
Steven Manchester is the author of the national bestseller Twelve Months. You can read more about it here. The Story Plant will publish Steven’s new novel, Goodnight, Brian, in January.