The Emerging Writers Network started as a bit of a lark--me seeing just how lousy a book review I could write. It was intended to be newspaper-style and was of Alyson Hagy's Keeneland (that sad little review can still be read over at Amazon--I'll not be providing you a link though). That first year (2000) was fun, I was reading again (something I'd somewhat given up for a five year period--hmm, my first was born in 1995...) and people were actually emailing me and asking to be put on this mailing list I had created that sporadically sent out book reviews.
By 2002 those poor bastards were receiving an email just about every other day as i reviewed 102 books and interviewed over 30 authors during that calendar year.
2005 was a highlight year though. Sometime in late 2004/early 2005 I got some confirmation that a small publisher I was excited about was going to take on a manuscript of an author that I really liked, and had put in touch--my first bit of agenting (though at the much less than standard, zero percent take). Somewhere around the same time, a person I'd befriended online, another reviewer (though one who also wrote fiction) with similar tastes as my own, David Abrams, found out he was being sent to Iraq via Kuwait. I was one of the fortunate few that was on his email list when he began sending journal entries back home. After some asking and his verifying it wouldn't lead to a court marshal on his end and me disappearring from the world--we received permission for me to share these journal entries with the Emerging Writers Network. At the end of each entry I'd add something about David's military address and how was a voracious reader that liked movies and sand was everywhere and snacks were cool, etc.
And here's where the bit of pride comes in--the members of the EWN, political views non-withstanding, thoughts on the war set aside, flooded David with books and dvd's and chocolates and baby wipes and thank yous and praise. It was fantastic knowing I had a small part in seeing that happen.
February 28, 1995. That would be the day I received an email from super-agent Nat Sobel noting he'd been reading the journal entries and wondered if David had an agent. If I remember hard enough, I think I can hear David yelling ARE YOU KIDDING ME, OF COURSE I KNOW WHO NAT SOBEL IS in reply to my email to him asking if it was okay to pass along his contact information.
Today Fobbit, the novel David wrote that are at least somewhat based on his meticulous journals from his time over there, is officially published. While I received a galley not long ago, I purchased a final copy Saturday morning. David was overly kind in his acknowledgments section stating:
My thanks to:
Dan Wickett who posted some of my journal entries from Iraq at his Emerging WritersNetwork blog in early 2005. The result was an outpouring of care packages full of not baby wipes or foot powder, but the finest kind of surprise a soldier like me could have found after he ripped away the packing tape: books. The EWN members kept me well-supplied with enough reading material for five deployments. Thank God it never came to that. Aside from the wartime support, Dan's EWN introduced me to an entire army of writers who have continued to support me over the years as I hunkered down at the keyboard. I've met some of those writers, but for the others, I remain little more than a mute avatar on Facebook. They have never stopped buoying me up with encouragement and for that, I am truly grateful.
It was great reading that and reliving the experience of watching something go wildly beyond whatever motion I thought I could nudge forward. It's the sort of thing that makes me realize I need to make better efforts at keeping this site alive daily so people continue to stop by with visits.