In the preface to his opus “The Best and the Brightest” (the definitive account of America’s involvement in Vietnam), journalist David Halberstam shared the secret to writing a bestseller: “A book that burns in your belly — something that has to be written before you can go on to anything else.”
Halberstam was one of my early role models. And I know that burning feeling he describes. I’m presently consumed with writing a big, sweeping, uniquely American story. I fall asleep thinking about it. I wake up thinking about it. And with very few exceptions, I’ve worked on it every day for the past 400-plus days. I’m so immersed that I’ve refused to do any other writing. No articles. No op-eds. Seven months ago I even stopped blogging.
But today I’m using my blog space to share something that my son Tennyson wrote for the Hartford Courant. He’s a law student at UCONN, and he spent part of his summer working at a U.S. detention facility for immigrants. His task was to help prepare asylum petitions for an LBGT couple that fled persecution in Central America. The stakes are high. If the couple is deported, they will likely be executed in their home country on account of their sexual orientation. It’s a situation I can scarcely relate to. But I can’t think of a better way my son could have spent his summer.
Here’s a link to his story: