Two sections of wall in my office are filled with certificates of awards my books have received. They range in date from 2004 to 2019. All four of my currently published books have received awards, the most recent being a “Notable Indie” from Shelf Unbound for my novel No-Accounts.
I take great pride in those awards. Writing well is not easy. It is the hardest work I’ve ever done. It demands great time and effort. I never settle for less than my best, no matter how many drafts or how long the writing takes. It’s gratifying to see concrete evidence that my sweat and tears have not been in vain.
Two awards especially please me. They are the ones for No-Accounts, my only published novel not about Vietnam. As I have explained before in this blog, I began volunteering to work with those in need to help me cope with Post-Traumatic Stress Injury (PTSI). I returned from Vietnam after the fall of Saigon in 1975 with a classic case of PTSI and found that when I was helping others, the unbearable memories of combat and death receded into the background. I worked with the homeless, the dying in a hospice, and, for five years, with AIDS patients. I had seven patients. They were all gay; they all died.
The experience of working with these men permanently changed me. My bias against gay men disappeared. I came to understand that tragedy is a part of daily life. I learned that compassion is one of the great virtues among human beings.
I gained new understanding of the words of Jesus: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” (Matthew 22, 37-40). No-Accounts is the story of a straight man caring for a gay man dying of AIDS. Focusing not on war and destruction, as my other books have, but on the painstaking, monotonous labor of caring for the dying, the novel is really about the love of one man for another.
So I look with pleasure upon the mementos of honor my books have received. My hard work is appreciated.