By Dan Walsh
My summer began with a bang.
The Unfinished Gift, came out on the first of June. It’s called, The Homecoming (Revell). Both received 4.5 stars from Romantic Times magazine. The reviewer compared my writing in the new book to international best-selling author Nicholas Sparks.
This, of course, sent shock waves throughout the Christian fiction world, skyrocketing The Homecoming to the top of the bestselling charts. Within days, interview requests started pouring in from all sides: magazines, radio talk shows and some of the busiest blogs on the internet. The producers of Oprah and Glenn Beck wrestled over me with Revell’s publicity department, trying to be the first to get me on their show. We finally agreed I’d do both shows on the same day (Oprah had to settle for an interview by tape). Sales of The Homecoming quickly topped the million mark by the end of the week.
To keep me from signing with someone else, my publisher instantly sent out a new contract with a six-figure signing bonus. My wife and I used part of it to pay off the mortgage on our house. Then we took a two-week cruise through the Mediterranean, scouting out new locations for my next book. It’s nice to know, that with the success of The Homecoming, every other book I write from now on is guaranteed to become an instant bestseller, right out of the gate.
Really? I mean…Really?
Well, no. That’s not exactly what happened.
But everything in the first paragraph is true. Even the part about the sequel being long-awaited (I know I waited a long time) and the bit about my debut novel being amazing (some who read my first book said they thought it was amazing).
But everything after that… the stuff dreams are made of.
It is amazing how easily our minds conjure up fantasies. I’ve been doing this all my life. I remember being in the ninth grade, decades ago. I had just been picked to be our middle school basketball team’s starting point guard. A high honor. I would be the guy bringing the basketball up the court on every play, the guy setting up the plays. Every eye in the auditorium would be on me.
|Not Dan's team!|
Wanting to be worthy of all the acclaim I deserved, I practiced for hours every single day, on a basketball hoop in our driveway. Even in the dead of winter. I shoveled snow just to clear enough space to play.
I can still recall the ridiculous fantasies I created as I played. I was no longer bundled up in my coat, hat and scarf bouncing a ball in the snow. I could hear the roar of the crowd, the whole school chanting my name, as I weaved the ball in and around the other team’s defenders. Just before the buzzer sounds, I leap into the air, a flawless jump shot. Nothing but net.
I had won the game.
The fantasies grew from there. College scouts watched me play. I got a full scholarship to Duke University. We made it to the Final Four. Through my amazing skill and incredible shooting, we win the National Championship. The NBA comes calling. All of this going on in my head, as I stood there like an idiot bouncing a basketball in the snow.
The truth fell a tad short of this.
I did get to hear the crowds chant my name, and I did win several games for my school, back in ninth grade. But I didn’t grow a single inch after that. We moved back to Florida to a high school with a lousy basketball program. I busted my ankle badly a year later, forever putting an end to all my hoop dreams.
The moral of this story is not that desires or fantasies are bad. But they can be. I’ve found they can rob me of the simple joys and simple blessings God is bringing into my life every day. I’ve heard it said that contentment is not getting what you want, but wanting what you have.
In Ps. 103:2, David says, “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits.” This is the habit I’m seeking to cultivate now. Deliberately spending time thinking about the things He has already done in my life. When I do this, I find the list is quite long. Every now and then, there is something big on that list. But most of the things are…small-ish.
But that doesn’t discourage me. What I see is that God is willing to pay that much attention even to the details of my life. David also said, “Many, O Lord my God, are the wonders which you have done, and your thoughts toward us…If I would declare and speak of them, they would be too numerous to count” (Ps 40:5).
I never got to play for Duke. And I’ll probably never see the day when Oprah and Glenn Beck are fighting to get me on their show. But the God of the Universe loves me with an everlasting love, and has more thoughts about me and my life than can be counted.
This is not a fantasy, but a cause for real joy and genuine contentment.
I’ve been happily married to the only woman I’ve ever loved for the last 33 years. We have two grown children (one grandbaby on the way). We’ve lived in the same house in the Daytona Beach area for the last 25 years , and I’ve been a pastor here all that time. My first book, The Unfinished Gift, released last September and is doing well. It has just been named a finalist in two categories for ACFW’s prestigious Carol Award (formerly Book-of-the-Year). In June the sequel released, called The Homecoming. Both books received 4.5 Stars from Romantic Times. My third novel, The Deepest Waters, comes out in the spring. My publisher, Revell, has signed me to write two more books for them through 2012.http://www.danwalshbooks.com/
Copies of Dan's books can be found at....
The Homecoming on Amazon (also available on Kindle and as an Audio book) - http://www.amazon.com/Homecoming-Novel-Dan-Walsh/dp/0800733894/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1258743878&sr=1-1
The Unfinished Gift on Amazon (also available on Kindle and as an Audio book) - http://www.amazon.com/Unfinished-Gift-Novel-Dan-Walsh/dp/0800719247/ref=tmm_hrd_title_0
Thanks for a fun post, Dan. I think everybody has those wild daydream moments. I know I have. And while no one's called me yet to be the first author on Dancing With the Stars, who knows... it could happen... right?ReplyDelete
I'll never forget my dreams of swimming in the olympics. Of course I wanted the glory more than more hours in the pool! And I was never so dedicated that I swam outside in winter (in Canada!).
Thanks for sharing your story, actual and imagined, and the eternal perspective to keep it real.
Thanks Jennifer and Wenda for stopping by. And thanks Gina for that basketball team pic (the one a few decades further back than 9th grade). I actually tried to find a pic from those days...must be buried in a box somewhere.ReplyDelete
If anyone else drops by, let's 'fess up, let me hear some of your crazy dreams.
One enduring dream of my youth spilled into my adult years and that was to be 'content'. It's not flashy but I think I've arrived. Peace is pretty cool after all.ReplyDelete
Dan, you really had me going. I was sure you'd achieved Nicholas Sparks type recognition by now. Well, you're at least pretty famous and successful in my circle!
Hey, Dan. Thanks for coming to hang out around the Inkwell. I've had the same daydreams of bestsellerdom, and I'm not even contracted! Other fantasies? I've daydreamed about having my own cooking show, olympic ice skating (I can barely keep upright, much less go backwards or turn around), being a doctor selflessly serving in some third world country (turns out, I'm not that selfless), and of starting a Protestant form of nunnery (but I think that one was just because the kids were driving me nuts that day!)ReplyDelete
Oh, Dan, I can't begin to tell you how many times I've been on Oprah in my mind. Ha ha. Yes, I too live in dream world. The dreams of my younger years revolved around gymnastics, ice skating, dance, acting, and modeling. And of course boys. Now I dream of being a famous author. I'll be following up on this theme in my post on Friday, "Journey to a Dream World" and also tying it into the fictional dreamworld of novels and my recent trip to Magic Kingdom if you have time to stop by.ReplyDelete
LOL, Dan! I tried to find the oldest-looking basketball pic. Only all of them were college-age kids.ReplyDelete
Okay, so when I first was reading your post, I was OMG-ing by the end of the second paragraph. How cool for you! Then you confessed it was only wishful thinking. I'm so gullible. But I did want it all to be true because from the things you've shared on ACFW list and on the Seekerville blog...well, I admire your passion for staying focused on Jesus amid all the publishing hoopla.
Dina, I've never dreamed of being on Oprah.ReplyDelete
Lisa, I'm with you on the nunnery.
Wenda, while swimming wasn't my Olympic dream, I did see myself winning a gold for some shooting sport. (My affinty for weapons has nothing to do with having children.)
Jen, I like the idea of learning to dance and being able to wear slinky sequins. Not sure I'd want to do dance on tv, though.
Lisa, just noticed your nunnery comment. As you know, I've also dreamed of checking into a convent. Oddly enough, my dreams began after having children as well. Hmmm. And let me just say, I was not above becoming Catholic to do it :)ReplyDelete
Dan, thanks so much for coming by! I just received my copy of The Homecoming and I can't wait to start it.ReplyDelete
I used to fantasize about being in a nunnery, too! Even if it was just for a week. As a kid I loved to act and of course I dreamed about that. But most of my fantasies, then and now, have had to do with (surprise!) being published. Though I don't want to be on Oprah. Truth be told, I don't want to be on TV at all...I guess that acting dream vanished!
Thanks again for visiting us, Dan. And congratulations on the great reviews!
Wow, did you have me going! I'm soooo gullible, stay in my cave and don't keep up with the news. I don't even know who Glenn Beck is, although I've seen a few Oprah shows. I kept thinking.. really? Good for you! LOLReplyDelete
Excellent post, Dan. Thank you for visiting with us today.
Thanks, Gina. I really enjoyed this.
Deborah & Lisa, thanks for the kind words and, Lisa, I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of Moms didn't wonder about joining a convent (at least every now and then).ReplyDelete
Well...I just read a few more replies (seems like this nun thing is catching on).
Dina...I'll definitely try and stop by Friday. Don't hate me, but my wife and I live in Daytona Beach and have resident passes. We can go to any of the Disney parks M-F, live just one hour away.
Susanne, my Oprah fantasy is just about what that would do for book sales. Truth is, I'm afraid I'd say something too conservative-sounding and they'd need security to help me get out of the studio.
Anita, not to worry. You can live a long and fulfilling life without knowing who Glenn Beck is. But if his people ever call you for an interview about your book...I'd say yes and watch a few shows :)
I'll check in again this evening. Really enjoy chatting with you all.