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Fatherhood in the 21st Century: Dreams and Nightmares

Fatherhood in the 21st Century: Dreams and Nightmares

Something happened when my daughter was born.
Something so subtle, that I didn’t realize it until today (over two years later).
Something so intense that it excites and frightens me at the same time.

It’s one thing, but it has two affects.

This one thing (I’m still not sure what to call it — maybe it’s just fatherhood in general?) makes my dreams brighter and my nightmares darker.

My dreams have never been so aspirational, so high-reaching, so…BIG. My dreams go far beyond me. (Even in marriage, my dreams were heavily related on what Erin and I become together, so it still feels inward-focused.) But my new dreams for my daughter are bigger than I ever could have imagined. I want the best things for her, and I realize that many of those “things” are actually intangibles, like an excellent education and equal opportunities and chances to be whatever she wants. And I’ll do whatever I can to set her up to experience the life lessons that will help her become something great.

I don’t know that I’ve ever wanted anything so badly as the future I want for my daughter.

But I’m also realizing that my nightmares have never been more troubling. I never had to consider protecting my daughter from hate speech and bullying or unfair expectations because of her gender or what to do if someone were to try to sexually assault her. There is a deeply primal, lizard-brain response when I even get the notion that my daughter may have to endure difficulties in life because of the evils in the world, and I pray that I never have to deal with those emotions in real time.

I don’t know that I’ve ever wanted anything so badly as to protect my daughter from harm.

At the same time, I’m not naïve. I don’t want to shield her from everything. I think it’s a good life experience to go through a bad relationship and experience the highs and lows of life. I want her to see the bad and to teach her how to respond and rise above. Yet another big dream.

Maybe this is just a part of fatherhood — one of those things that other parents don’t talk about much (like seedy poop or neck cheese).

Or maybe it’s just completely experiential and you have to live it to know it.

Either way, I can’t imagine life without these big dreams and scary nightmares, and I wouldn’t go back for anything.

Garbage and ‘The Idea Machine’

Garbage and ‘The Idea Machine’

I have never met a person who found satisfaction in removing garbage from the bin in the kitchen, taking it into the garage (or outside), and putting it into a garbage can.

As a matter of fact, a lot of people put off taking out their garbage.

If we’re honest, we even push the trash down to create space so the next person will have to take it out. (more…)

“You’ve Taken to Fatherhood”

“You’ve Taken to Fatherhood”

I was at a tux fitting last weekend for my best friend. I’m his best man.

Afterward, we went to a restaurant with his father, his fianceé, her father, and another groomsman.

I’m in the middle of my cheddar ale soup and one of them says to me, “You’ve really taken to fatherhood.”

Then someone else says, “You’re a natural dad.”

“Wow! That’s so nice! Thanks for saying that.”

^^That’s what I didn’t say.


NaNoWriMo 2014 — 2 Days and a Cover

NaNoWriMo 2014 — 2 Days and a Cover

I’m now two days into writing my NaNoWriMo novel, The Signateur, and I’m over 5,000 words already.
(That’s one day ahead for anyone counting.)

Better yet, I’m learning more about my characters and my story as I write them. It’s always so interesting to me how, though I’m consciously in control of the story, my subconscious is also in charge of some part of this. It can lead to surprises about who I thought a character was and who they end up being.

But what I’m most excited about is sharing my cover for the novel. It was created by a friend of mine who works in the publishing field and made a beautiful image in such a short amount of time.

I present to you my cover.

The Signateur cover

That image is the background of my screen when I’m writing. It’s the image I keep looking at whenever I’m thinking about my novel. It is a great representation of what I’m working for this month. I’m so excited to have it, and it makes me wish I could share my work along with it.

Finally, my constant talking about my novel has led to two friends of mine making the decision to write their own novels. (Well, one of them is actually writing a screenplay, but I’m counting it.) I’m not counting it as a big win until I see that they’ve updated their word count, but I’m still excited for them and their November journeys.

Now to churn out a couple more words. More updates soon.

Why I’m Writing a Novel

Why I’m Writing a Novel

It occurred to me that I’ve written a lot about what I’m writing but very little about why I’m writing. So, on the eve of National Novel Writing Month, let me share why I’m attempting to write a novel this November.

Very few people know that I’ve had several of my poems published in a couple of literary journals. Those people are either related to me or they’ve read the small line at the bottom of my “writer’s résumé.”

I don’t talk about my published poetry because I feel like I’m too young for people to take my poetry seriously. And I’m kind of okay with that. I just keep it quiet.

But it’s my fiction writing is different from my poetry. Just the way I think about the fiction writing process is so different.

All of my fiction writing ideas start with one vision: a complex relationship.

For my 2011 NaNoWriMo novel, Those Who Are Yet to Come, the complex relationship was between two friends who had grown apart over college and were both trying to do good things in different ways.

This year, The Signateur is about a relationship that I’m not able to fully share yet because it would give away the whole novel. That’s probably what I’m so excited about in writing this November—I have a complexity that takes an entire novel to explain.

That excitement still doesn’t explain why I’m writing a novel.

I’m writing a novel in November because I want to reach an achievement I haven’t had before. This is bigger than just crossing off an item on my bucket list. This is about finally feeling accomplished in my writing. It’s about being an author. It’s about securing that piece of my identity that I’ve been claiming for years. Nearly every bio I write for myself starts with “Ian Philpot is a writer.” It’s a part of my identity.

So while my novel is about a complex relationship, it’s also about my validating my identity.

That’s why I’m writing a novel this November.


The text in the header image of this post is from a song called “Reasoned and Roughened” by Twin Forks. It’s becoming my theme for this year’s novel. You can listen to it here.

NaNoWriMo 2014 — 2 Weeks Out

NaNoWriMo 2014 — 2 Weeks Out

It’s fall.
The trees are changing color.
Pumpkin spice is everywhere.
It’s novel writing season.

I’ve written about my novel attempts for the last few Novembers (2011, 2012, 2013), so I’m going to skip the full National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) explanation and just jump right into it.

For 2014, I’m writing a novel titled The Signateur. It started as an idea I had shortly after I abandoned my novel last year. When I was looking for story ideas for this year, I found it in my Ideas folder in Evernote. (Score one for technology.) (more…)

Impatient, Millennial Dad

Impatient, Millennial Dad

I’m five months into fatherhood.

The days are long.
The weeks are short.
My sleep hasn’t yet recovered.
And I love every minute.

But, though Claire is constantly hitting milestones that are advanced for her age, I want her to be older now. (more…)

Global Leadership Summit 2014 Day 1 and My Most RT’ed Tweet

Global Leadership Summit 2014 Day 1 and My Most RT’ed Tweet

For the last seven years, I’ve attended the Global Leadership Summit (#GLS14), and it has consistently been one of the biggest resources in equipping me for adulthood, the workplace, and life.

This is my fifth year participating in the social media room, which is a wired room shared by about twenty of the most talented bloggers, photographers, and social media specialists in the church world. (more…)

Email Marketers Should Leave Holidays Alone

Email Marketers Should Leave Holidays Alone

Memorial Day weekend means a lot more to me now that it’s also my anniversary weekend. I woke up that Monday relaxed and ready to spend time with my family.

As I got of bed and checked my phone, I had four notifications from marketers trying to get me to buy something.

As someone who has sent marketing emails, I have always been conscious of sending an email at the right time. But I also made decisions not to send people on holidays or other special occasions because I knew it was ethically questionable.

So on Memorial Day weekend, I felt conflicted—understanding the plight of the marketers but also wanting to be left alone on a holiday—so I just deleted the emails and went about my day.

On the Fourth of July, I woke up with five marketing emails in my notifications, and I was upset. (more…)