Following Atticus: Forty-Eight High Peaks, One Little Dog, and an Extraordinary Friendship by Tom Ryan is published by William Morrow. It tells the story of my adventures with Atticus M. Finch, a little dog of some distinction. You can also find our column in the NorthCountry News.
Saturday, July 22, 2017
The Upcoming Chapters
We are home, and it feels…
It’s as if I’ve had a tune-up. I have a set of goals staring at me from the corner of my old desk. They each feel like invitations to go another adventure.
For now, I won’t go into them. Suffice it to say that I'm overjoyed to beback on the trails we love, swimming and wading in the rivers and streams, and putting in more mileage than we have in the past year.
Our kitchen has welcomed us home, as has my writing desk. Oh, to sit here is a joy itself. There wasn’t much writing done these last three months save for a few letters and cards to friends. But the written word beckons me.
There are two projects I’m currently working on. Both are in the beginning stages. My first novel, and another memoir, a bit different than the last two.
An excitement greets me that is fresh and tantalizing when I pick up a pen or sit down at the keyboard to let the words flow. It’s different than it used to be. Writing “Following Atticus” showed me I was a storyteller. “Will’s Red Coat,” helped along by maturity, experience, and my health issues, showed me I was an author.
In “W.R.C.” I took more chances, felt freer, and bolder because…
Because . . . Let’s face it, when you dance with death, it loosens things up. It didn’t change me as much as it reminded me of what I wanted to accomplish.
“Will’s Red Coat” prepared me for what comes next in my writing career. It let me know I can handle a novel, that the books will come more freely now. Although I will always love “Following Atticus,” Will’s book may never be replaced as my favorite no matter how many books I author. It’s not so much the story, it’s the writing and where it came from. It’s a new level.
As my friend, Paula pointed out, “There’s more of you in there. I really got to know you.”
Thinking about what comes next now has the butterflies in my gut swirling about. After “Will’s Red Coat” I fully believe there are no limitations to my writing. While I grew through my various sicknesses last spring, I’ve grown even more since then. That adds to the tools I can call on.
As for Samwise, he’s also grown a great deal. The book tour and the road trip were intense lessons for him. (One day I may tell you about the time he and a bison touched noses.) To see him extend himself into the world, to know his limitations and what to take chances on is a joy to behold.
The other day, when a friend asked me if we would ever go out west again, I was honest in saying that I’m not sure. Doctors tell me I’m doing well, considering all that has happened, but the odds are against me living a long life.
As one doctor put it, “The best way to describe it to you, Tom, is that there was a dumpster fire inside of you.”
Some things cannot be replaced.
I have no plans on dying anytime soon, but it’s a reality I need to confront that I may not live into old age. All the more reason to write as much as I can, while I can.
Before closing to go for an evening walk, I would like to tell those of you who came out to the book events just how much that meant to me. Seeing you face-to-face, hearing your stories, telling me how Will and Atticus touched your lives was a gift beyond any I have ever received. To hear you talk of your struggles with cancer, heart attacks, domestic violence, career changes, divorce, confronting your fears, and overcoming mental and physical challenges is the best medicine for me. That along with your comments about “Will’s Red Coat.”
Facebook tells me we have more than 245,000 followers on our page. As of tonight, there are only 112 reviews on Amazon and 253 on Goodreads.com. But gosh, they are magnificent!
Thank you. Thank you! Thank you to everyone who has given a bit of themselves through their words in leaving a note about the story.
To see how “Will’s Red Coat” has moved those of you who have written reviews blows both my editor and me away.
By reading Will’s story, you’ve helped to keep his legacy alive. As I’ve said more than once, what was special about Will, what was relatable about him, is that he is every one of us who has ever been broken and had to choose a new direction. Like the subtitle says, he “chose to live again,” just as many of us have done.