Nature, The Inspiration for Dad’s Journal
Lynn Welch: Your father read many books on nature, is there a particular naturalist author you hoped to emulate with Dad’s Journal?
Craig Seyfried: He loved John Muir and Colin Fletcher but I couldn’t begin to compete with those authors. Dad’s Journal was more of a memoir, so the book I most sought to emulate in terms of thematic style was: Trails of a Wilderness Wanderer by Andy Russell.
Lynn Welch: Who initiated the actual process of writing a book? Did your dad realize he had a wealth of information to share or did the family suggest he begin this literary journey?
Craig Seyfried: Dad initiated the process when he first began keeping notes for the journal. He didn’t get very far and even after I began helping him we had a much different idea back then of what the final product would look like. Originally, it was to be a nature oriented summary of his finds and observations when afield. After a few false starts, we realized it would become much more than that. His vision was for it to be a fun, meaningful read for his family and future generations.
The Writing Process for Dad’s Journal
Lynn Welch: Using the information from your father such as journal entries, notes and tapes, as well as your “team of experts,” describe the writing process for Dad’s Journal.
Craig Seyfried: The process began by organizing chronologically all of the journal entries, reviewing the un-transcribed tapes, then inputting all 354 pages into a writing program. I selected Schrivener because of its ease of use and flexibility. This phase alone took 6 months! Phase 2 included researching available writing resources, talking with other authors about their experiences and level of effort, and reading some of his favorite books. Phase 3 was to make sense of all the notes and draw out meaningful philosophies and experiences for the reader. Here is where I became stuck but good. I tried and failed at many attempts. I just couldn’t see a path to get there and needed help. See next question.
Lynn Welch: Who are your “team of experts” and what role did they play in the writing process?
Craig Seyfried: Once I had the big picture in terms of level of effort (time required, costs, examples, etc.) I reached out to Lisa Tener for help in making sense of the memoir notes and how to make it readable and informative. She provided guidance to help narrow the approach through her emails, blogs and newsletters as well as other tools. She also introduced me to one of her colleagues who was a specialist on the type of book I was intending to write. I eventually connected with Stuart Horwitz first as an initial reviewer and then as a developmental editor. He helped me through the various writing phases and eventually introduced me to Michele DiFilippo, owner of 1106 Design, who finalized the copy editing, cover and interior design.
Along the way other input was needed on various topics and family history. Myself along with other family members, specifically my sister, Donna Marie Seyfried and daughter, Lauren Kirby provided photos, family histories and editing. My niece, Glenna Thomas was our sketch artist and provided relevant drawings to introduce each chapter. I am fortunate to have other talented family members who have experience in writing and publishing and they also consulted on the manuscript: my son, Craig and brother-in-law, Robert Thomas have written and published professional articles and books, my son- in-law, Kasey Kirby provided creative input from his experience as owner/producer at Atlas District Productions.
Creative Time For Writing
Lynn Welch: When did you do most of the work for your book? Is there a time of day or a writing ritual that sets the tone for writing?
Craig Seyfried: I wrote between 9 am and 1 pm almost exclusively on any day of the week I felt inspired or creative. That was the period for me when my ideas were fresh and not cluttered with daily to do lists.
Lynn Welch: Were you as busy as your parents were once they retired? Was writing a routine that was easily incorporated into your lifestyle?
Craig Seyfried: Yes I was very busy. At the time I was winding down my consulting business and managing family issues from aging parents in-law and new grandchildren. I did manage to carve out 2-4 hours per day at least 4-5 times per week.
That being said it still took 2¾ years from start to book in hand.
The Decision-Making Process: Writing a Book from Journal Entries Tweet This
Lynn Welch: With a lifetime of memories, journal entries, notes and information, how did you narrow the content that appears in Dad’s Journal?
Craig Seyfried: As you might expect this was extremely difficult. All the memories were precious to me. Here is where outside help came in handy. Using the Book Architecture approach I was able to select those scenes that were most meaningful or conveyed a message. If there were specific journal entries that I thought needed to be included but weren’t able to stand on their own I built bridges to relevant scenes so the message was retained.
Lynn Welch: Were some aspects of this book more emotional than others?
Craig Seyfried: Yes absolutely. I didn’t want to dwell on the myriad of medical issues that eventually curtailed Dad’s physical ability to experience and enjoy nature. Rather I wanted the book to be a positive reflection of the best times had afield, but also include the challenges life throws at us because nothing is ever easy.
Lynn Welch: Did family members get input into the book’s content and stories that were told or were you the primary decision maker for all aspects of the book?
Craig Seyfried: In addition to my interviewing members of our extended family, immediate family members had a chance to provide specific input or clarification during one of the many draft versions, however the content decisions were made by me.
Other Publishing Questions
Lynn Welch: Describe your process for getting published. Where did you start and at what point in the process did you seek help? What was your process for getting Dad’s Journal out into the world?
Craig Seyfried: I knew I was in trouble after spending 3-4 months trying to make sense of the journal notes and put them into a readable sequence. So I began searching online and was fortunate to find Lisa Tener. This turned out to be a great first step in that it Lisa has many excellent contacts and resources. From there I simply followed her recommendation along with Stuart’s and Michele’s advice and ended up with a thoughtful book which, as a first time author felt it exceeded my expectations.
Lynn Welch: How are you promoting Dad’s Journal to the public?
Craig Seyfried: The book was written as what Stuart called a tribute book. I wanted to wait and see if it had a wider appeal before going out to the broader public. I am currently evaluating options for identifying the right niche of readers and developing a promotional plan.
This article will help me gauge the level of interest and hopefully, with some feedback, provide further direction.
Lynn Welch: Are you active on Goodreads or other social media to reach an audience?
Craig Seyfried: I have accounts with Facebook, Linked In, Instagram, Twitter, and am familiar with Goodreads but don’t use them as extensively as I could. I need to learn more about how social media could help get the word out.
Lynn Welch: Have you done speaking engagements or book signings? Do you have any stories to share about the experience of meeting readers and sharing Dad’s Journal?
Craig Seyfried: Not as yet but perhaps in the near future.
Completing and Next Steps
Lynn Welch: Outside of your father, what was your personal inspiration for writing and seeing this project brought to life?
Craig Seyfried: My own experiences were a primary motivator, as I knew there were important lessons and fun stories from our time spent in nature to pass on. My spouse, Pam, strongly encouraged me to write the book, as she knew how important it was for me to complete this journey.
Lynn Welch: Are there other family members who, after this book, are inspired to write books of their own?
Craig Seyfried: Yes. Funny you should ask because some of them have now taken steps to prepare themselves to write their own books.
Lynn Welch: Will there be a sequel to Dad’s Journal of your own personal nature stories?
Craig Seyfried: Most definitely. There are still stories to be told and lessons to be shared.
Advice for Authors
Lynn Welch: Dad’s Journal is like the beef stew or mac and cheese of books. Pure comfort food for mind and body. I felt relaxed just reading about the scenery, flowers and trips on the lake. What advice do you have for author in setting a relaxing tone for their reader?
Craig Seyfried: That is kind of you to say. I tried to write it as authentically, with genuine feeling, as possible to convey the emotions we experienced in each surrounding. If you felt that way then I must have gotten close to the mark. Thank you.
My advice – keep it genuine don’t try to sensationalize or embellish unnecessarily, It’s not the 6 o’clock news.
Craig Seyfried’s Most Meaningful Steps For Success
Lynn Welch: Now that you’ve got the book complete, what advice would you give to budding authors about following their dream of starting, completing and publishing a book?
Craig Seyfried: There are probably many subsets of the following but these are the most meaningful steps that helped me be successful.
- Build a foundation through organization of information: I collected all the relevant information, drew a time line, created a rough outline, and selected a writing tool that could help organize of the type of book I was intending to write.
- Discipline in writing deadlines: I set time frames for each phase of the process and tried my best to stick to it. Shorter phases made success more certain and helped me build momentum.
- Seek help don’t wait! Find quality support: Once I was stuck I reached out and found resources to get through the process and provide an independent perspective.
- Hire a good publishing design firm: They are the ones who take your rough manuscript and turn it into a readable and beautiful finished product.
Lessons from the Book
Lynn Welch: There is so much wisdom in this book. Knowledge gleaned from years of practice and the study of nature and life. What are the most important lessons you have learned from your father that you want to pass on to future generations as well as readers of his adventures?
Craig Seyfried: This is a very philosophical question but in my own mind I try to boil things down into bullet points. So here goes:
When you find what you love, what excites you go all in. Share it with your loved one, as the passion is infectious.
Keep your priorities straight; don’t get distracted by what others think is important. Be yourself first.
Be tolerant and helpful to others, kindness is the rule.
Follow the 3 P’s – Patience, Persistence and Perseverance, especially as your families grow larger.
Never give up; even when hope is all you have!
Dad’s Journal, At One With Nature
Lynn Welch: Did you write parts of Dad’s Journal out in nature and where some of the scenes take place?
Craig Seyfried: Yes a lot of the rough drafting and many times editing would occur at one of Nature’s Retreats, the Camp in the Adirondacks or the Cabin in the Poconos. There is no Internet access on the mountains so these places are without outside distractions, conversely though research ability is limited as well.
Lynn Welch: Your father wrote about plants and how they can be used as medicine. Did either of you ever dabble with this more holistic approach for remedies?
Craig Seyfried: We were very interested and studied the medicinal properties of several plants; my sister-in-law who is a pediatric physician was probably the most involved in this aspect. We did experiment with some of the “finds” as topical agents, poultices, etc., but other than to collect a few edible plants and mushrooms it was mostly theoretical, primarily for safety reasons.
Lynn Welch: I was fascinated by how your dad was able to predict the weather based on wind speed and the types of clouds he saw. Where did he learn this and did this skill ever prove itself out in the wild? For example, he and your mother were out on the lake or in the woods when the wind and clouds changed so they knew a storm was rapidly approaching.
Craig Seyfried: He had reference books and years of first hand experience, which allowed him to ”calibrate” this approach to estimating incoming weather patterns. He used this methodology with surprising accuracy. I use it today when in the wilderness and it has saved me many times from unnecessary hardship.
Craig Seyfried is an outdoorsman and former environmental engineer who spent over thirty-five years in the pharmaceutical industry. After retiring from corporate life Craig formed Consulting For Sustainable Solutions LLC (aka CFS Solutions) to provide strategic consulting on environmental issues and writing on topics of personal and social interest.