A book doctor during business hours, but when work lets out, my real job begins.
Who is Bryan?
Yep, I’m a dad, father of three young boys, four and under. I live within the pages of a storybook, a wonderland of the precious and perplexing.
I’ve heard it described as “shedding skins,” referring to the many new versions of self that emerge from the rigors of family life. As a simple example, I’d told myself for years that multitasking was not among my strong suits. If only my old me could see me now.
In the parenting of small children, we become perpetually in demand. Very few minutes of a given day may be allotted to something other than service. Bits of self get taken away, but, if we’re lucky something fierce and purposeful will replace what was lost.
Something else I've heard from parents, "Monday is the new Saturday." Imagine that! In the quiet of the office, clients and colleagues are oh so rational. They don’t scream without cause and are quite content to dress and use the restroom on their own. The writing projects I work on often have clear paths forward. I make decisions with high levels of confidence. I know what I’m doing here.
As parents we have no idea what we’re doing.
If you believe the family photos, it's all fun and games with little sprinklings of chaos here and there. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but the right words hold truths no image can fully capture.
My wife says to think of this time as a season, but last I checked many seasons have passed, and at times I worry nothing will be left of me when it’s all said and done.
I pour myself into them. My dreams are not my own anymore, but for them.
When I pray at night, I find that giving thanks comes naturally, for my family, for the health of my children, the devotion of my wife. I’m drowning in love, exhausting amounts of love.
It took some getting used to, but I learned eventually to stop longing for personal time, because if you’re drowning in love, then why would you ever want to be anywhere else? Where else is there to be? What else is there to long for?
More about me. Me, specifically:
When not at work writing, editing, or navigating dad life, I can be found reading great works of fiction, playing chess, flailing about on surfboards, planning camping adventures with family and friends, and manning the deep fryer during the Lenten Fish Fry at my parish.
And if you really want to hear about it:
When I was in fourth grade I entered a “Young Author’s Contest.” Even back then, stories were my jam, and this was the contest I’d been waiting for.
I spent hours on my entry, an elaborate novelette featuring a boy protagonist who awakens to find himself trapped within a strange fantasy world. His sole companion, a friendly gargoyle, aids the hero in his attempt to return home.
The contest entries were due on a Friday. I woke up that morning utterly ecstatic. The world would soon know my genius.
At school, I was quick to note that mine was by far and away the densest manuscript. I sardine-packed thousands of words covering every inch of our regulation cardstock pamphlet paper, front and back. I remember my friend, Odysseus, being awestruck by my writer’s ambition. “It’s awesome,” he said. He then despaired over his own entry. “Mine is, look at it. It’s silly.” Ody’s manuscript was a simple retelling of a Greek children’s fable. No dream portals, no gargoyles, but his handwriting, unlike mine, was neat, placed carefully upon crisp horizonal lines. His illustrations were simple and drawn with care.
A week later Ody’s story was announced schoolwide as one of a dozen or so winners. My name was not announced. My chicken scratch masterpiece had been snubbed, and I was devastated.
Since then, I’ve come to learn and accept that rejections abound in the world of writing and publishing. The writing bug though, it never left. Writing for me is the constant thread, a theme spanning my entire life.
Nine years following my fourth-grade humiliation, I wrote an essay on racism within 19th century scientific communities. It was named the best essay written by a freshman at Georgia Tech. They gave me a hundred bucks for it, which—I’ll need to check with Ody—I’m pretty sure I’ve out-earned him on the contest circuit. Sweet justice.
In the last ten years, I’ve had a few pieces published and built an entire career for myself based on my passion for writing.