We recently sent Jim some questions about his book “Life’s That Way.” If you haven’t picked up a copy we encourage you to do so. When you do, make sure to write a review of the book on Amazon.
Jim, take us through the background for this book. You have said before how hard writing is for you, so I’m curious to find out what the impetus was working on such a huge writing project. I know these were compiled e-mails, but I’m sure there was a bunch of editing to do to complete the book. Did family or friends encourage you?
The editing of the book required virtually no new writing, so it wasn’t difficult in that sense. But it was very difficult in a couple of other ways. First off, it required me to revisit the events of the book in great detail. I had to read the original 265,000 words over and over and over, and some of those things were extremely hard to look at again. In some cases it was almost like reliving them. I didn’t care much for that at all. And, too, it was a great deal of work. Every comma, every sentence, every thought had to be revisited in order to determine whether it should stay in the final manuscript. Two thirds of what I wrote had to be cut. That’s not simply a matter of chopping off the last two thirds. Redundant remarks, items that were relevant at the time but were no longer relevant, and references to other sections that had been cut had to be removed, and every word had to be examined for spelling, accuracy, etc. That’s all part of publishing a book, of course, but not many books are the result of cutting out two thirds of the original manuscript. It was tedious, but necessary. I got a great deal of encouragement from family and friends, at least the ones who knew what I was doing. But it was very much a lonely task.
(From our friend Jenn) As someone whose mother has terminal cancer, and is having a hard time dealing, I want to thank Jim for writing this book. It may help people like me who have a hard time communicating their grief. How difficult was the decision to publish the original e-mails and open up something so personal?
The original emails presented no difficulty in terms of sharing something personal, because they were MEANT for people with whom we had strong personal relationships. They were originally just news reports. The commentary, if you will, came later, and there was never really any decision to share it, because other people began passing the emails along, not I. I only realized strangers were reading it when I started getting messages from them. It was much harder to decide to publish the emails as a book. Somehow, to market this material, to sell it, seemed kind of crass, and it seemed almost as though I were inviting an invasion of privacy. It’s kind of the difference between being okay with a stranger knocking at the door offering to help, and building a glass house in the middle of Grand Central Station. But the sense that maybe the material would help people or comfort them or inform them in a meaningful way eventually won out over my initial discomfort.
What are your feelings as this (very personal) narrative leaves your hands, and goes out in the world to be viewed through the lens of other people’s perceptions and experiences?
I feel hope. I don’t worry much about the things a writer or performer normally worries about with a new project, whether people will like it or hate it. I can’t imagine getting a negative review for this book. It hasn’t happened yet, and I don’t expect it. The material sort of naturally rejects standard review procedure. What I wonder about and hope is that it will mean something valuable to the people who read it. If someone’s life is made a tiny bit easier or less lonely by reading of my experiences and lessons, then I am satisfied and happy. That seems to be what is happening, and I’m grateful.
Could you give us a full list of book tour dates and what to expect at each event?
At this point, I don’t have any expectations of any more specific book tour events. My publisher prefers to promote the book in other ways, and with the internet being what it is, I sense that they could be right. Maybe it’s no longer necessary to send authors out on the road. Various publishers deal with this issue differently, and it’s always possible that something could change, but at present, there are no plans by my publisher for further readings or signings around the country. I will, however, be signing books at whatever fan events I attend, such as the Supernatural conventions. The next one I have scheduled is in Vancouver the last weekend in August.
Later down the road, do you plan on sharing this book with your daughter as a way for her to learn more about her mother? Why or why not?
Absolutely. I live for the day Maddie can read and assimilate the material in this book. She’s already expressed an interest, but is really too young emotionally to synthesize it yet. But the day will come, and I cannot wait for her to discover her mother anew, both in my book and in the letters her mother left for her.
Was it healing to relive that year of your life?
I can’t honestly say whether it was healing. It was trying. It was emotional. It was difficult. At times it was rewarding. My healing process was firmly founded long before, I think, and would, I believe, have continued unabated whether I wrote this book or not. It’s hard to say, of course, but since every experience teaches one more about life, I feel sure that there were blessings to be gained by going over that year again in such detail.
Looking back, what was initially harder to deal with your wife’s diagnosis or your daughter’s?
Oh, no question, my wife’s diagnosis was the hardest to take. No matter how difficult Maddie’s life might have been after we learned what her issues were, she was going to be alive and well and loved and as happy as we could make her. Cecily, on the other hand, faced impending doom, and our entire lives were in the balance as a result. It was a difficult, painful, and terribly sad thing to learn of Maddie’s developmental problems, but it was devastating, soul-crushing to think that Cecily was probably going to die soon.
How much has Maddie helped you heal after Cecily’s death?
There were many times after Cecily’s death that I did not care one bit whether I died or not. I was never suicidal. But I often did not care whether my life was prolonged another minute. I’ve never known such sorrow, such sadness, and the idea of it ending was not repellent. But then I looked at my little girl and saw such love and hope and incipient happiness, and I saw that her only chance to have a happy life was for me to live and give her every break possible. Sometimes I didn’t particularly want to live, but I had to. And of course the more I held on to her for her sake, the more she gave me back my own life. I don’t think I’d be here now if not for her. If she had never been born, I would be all right now, but if she had never been born, I might not have made it to now.
What would you like readers to take away from your book?
I hope readers take away the feeling that in their darkest hours, they are not alone, that someone else has gone down the same path and shares their fears and sorrows and secrets. I would hope readers would feel they know a little better how to cope with grief, whether it is their own or that of someone they love. And I would hope that they realize a little better that life is not something that happens to us, it is something we make happen, something we move toward. And I’d like readers to know that once there was an amazing woman named Cecily Adams, who would have made their lives a little brighter if they’d known her.
Besides buying the book, what else do you need fans to do to help support Life’s That Way?
All I can really say in answer to that is to recommend the book to as many people as you can, if you feel so inclined. At this point, word of mouth is the only real means of promoting the book. If you know of a talk show or book reviewer who hasn’t covered the book, feel free to recommend it (maybe more than once — the squeaky wheel gets the grease!). Mainly, though, word of mouth. If you liked the book, or got something positive from it, please tell others. I want to thank the fans who’ve been so supportive. It has touched my heart deeply, and I’m very grateful.
All the best,
Thank YOU, Jim!!! For more information on Life’s That Way, visit http://www.lifesthatway.com/.