Dad on Jocko – Ep. 196 “Make Peace or Die”

Last year, Jocko Willink featured a conversation with my father and an early draft of Make Peace or Die on episode 196 of his podcast.

Dad describes the experience in the epilogue :

In the summer of 2019, I sat down with retired Navy SEAL and bestselling author Jocko Willink, as a guest on his podcast. He read from my manuscript and we talked about my life and about war. A chilling moment was when he read the line about the time I asked my father when the memories of war will fade.

I said that they don’t fade.

Jocko replied, “No, they don’t.”

I spent a long time preparing for the podcast to avoid rambling or choking up, which I did anyway. Nothing could have prepared me for the response from his listeners. The podcast was accessed over fifty thousand times on YouTube. Hundreds of comments came in from all over the world. Listeners emailed, they Tweeted. The deputy chief of our local police department, where Jocko’s Extreme Ownership is required reading, came to my door one day to shake my hand and give me a mug with the department crest on it. I was astonished by how many young people are interested in the history of the Korean War. They haven’t forgotten. One listener, a Korean Marine, thanked me for saving his country.

Another listener wrote: “My father was in the Korean War and he never talked about it. Now I know why.”

Thank you, Jocko, for sharing my father’s story with the world and for your dedication to our veterans, active-duty military, first responders, and their families.

Jocko Podcast 196 w/ Charles Daly: Make Peace or Die. Service, Leadership, and Nightmares.

Join the conversation on Twitter/Instagram:@jockowillink @echocharles0:00:00 – Opening0:06:15 – Charles U. Daly3:37:29 – Final thoughts and take-aways.4:40:5…


Make Peace or Die: A life of Service, Leadership, and Nightmares is available through Amazon and Indiebound, or you can ask your local bookstore to order it. This week, the Kindle eBook is on sale for $0.99. 

An early draft was featured on Jocko Podcast episode 196

The Book Site is Up!

The website for my father’s memoir is now live! Make Peace or Die, a Life of Service Leadership and Nightmares is coming out this November. In the meantime, check out MakePeaceOrDie.com for updates and links to his appearance on Jocko Podcast, ep. 196, which features large excerpts from the manuscript. You can also sign up to get an email as soon as the book launches.

As we get closer to book day, I’ll post more about the book, my dad’s epic life, and the collaboration between us that led to him become a first-time author at 93 and was the source of many conversations I thought he and I would never have.

 

An Irishman in the U.S Marine Corps Charles U. Daly thinks fighting in Korea will be an adventure and a way to live up to a family tradition of service and soldiering. He comes home decorated, wounded, traumatized, and wondering what’s next. His quest for a new mission will take him to JFK’s White House, the troubles in Northern Ireland, and a South African township devastated by the AIDS epidemic. Chuck’s life is a true story of living up to Kennedy’s challenge to “ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.”

At every juncture, he’s had two options: make peace or die. Daly chose to make peace with his fate every time, and that decision has led to him a remarkable life of service.

charles u daly author photo by shay hunston

Be the Verb (Writing) not the Noun (a Writer)

On episode 320 of Scripnotes, screenwriters Jon August and Craig Mazin fielded a question about calling oneself a writer. They urged those who write to identify with the verb (writing) and not the noun (being a writer.)

 

Here’s a my take on that distinction:

 

At its best, “writer” is the title you get to claim when you write consistently. It’s a statement of one’s habitual action–the noun describing one who does the verb. There’s a difference between calling yourself a writer because you write and claiming the title because you think of yourself as the kind of person who writes. It’s like the difference between being sober and that one Tuesday when you weren’t drunk. 

 

Writing is something we all do all the time. And maybe that’s why we feel like we need to label ourselves in the first place. Everyone writes emails and text messages and to-do lists. Many jobs involve writing, from teaching to law enforcement. Fewer jobs and day-to-day tasks call for singing or painting.  

 

Writing can take you to remarkable places and see you paid hansomely for your talent and hard work. In his infamous memo, David Mamet writes of the financial rewards awaiting anyone who can tell a good story on screen: (Capitalization his)

 

“WRITE A RIPPING THREE, FOUR, SEVEN MINUTE SCENE WHICH MOVES THE STORY ALONG, AND YOU CAN, VERY SOON, BUY A HOUSE IN BEL AIR AND HIRE SOMEONE TO LIVE THERE FOR YOU.”

 

Neil Strauss recently tweeted that writing is his own form of cryptocurrency. As the volume of words he produces grows so does his wealth and financial security.

 

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I’ve got my own cryptocurrency. It’s called writing. I just write words, and each one is magically worth money. It started out at .05 cents on the exchange, then $1, now it’s past $3 a word. The total volume of words is now in the millions.

That said, writers get paid for writing not for being writers. The only exception to this rule I can think of is the guy in Breakfast at Tiffany’s who secures a pity patronage from a sugar mama who doesn’t much care if he writes or not.

 

The urge to be a writer can lead to all sorts of intellectual dishonesty and corner cutting, says William Gaddis. The “Fantasy of wanting to be a writer,” he says, can blind you to the actual work of writing which can be “sheer drudgery.”

 

Being a writer is a dream peddled by gurus, overnight success mongers, seminars, workshops, and MFAs. Writing doesn’t require a degree, a scene, or anybody’s permission. Jean Genet wrote on toilet paper in a French prison.

 

Writing, as Ryan Holiday points out, is a means to an end. It’s a way to communicate. His advice to anyone who wants to be a writer: find something to say.

 

The joy of writing comes from the intrinsic pleasures of worldbuilding, making something, communicating your deepest truth, finding an outlet for your feelings, expressing yourself, playing with words, telling tales.

 

The joy of being a writer, comes from telling people you’re a writer, getting your ego stroked, getting other parts of you stroked by people who think writers are impressive.

 

Writers feel threatened and discouraged by a world in which everybody writes. If you’re serious about writing, you’ll welcome company, competition, and mentorship, in what can be a very lonely activity.

 

Writers focus on acting like writers. They drink and tell you that all the great writers died drunk. They dress like characters in Wes Anderson movies and sometimes even wear berets.

 

Writing, on the other hand, invites you to approach the blank page with a sense of possibility and a willingness to discover your self and your world.

 

Friday Roundup

“Evenings: See friends. Read in cafes.”  –Henry Miller

 

Here’s what I’ve been up to this week, besides trying to make a dent in my “unread” bookshelf to make room for Christmas presents.

What I’m Reading

Swimming on the Hot Side” an article by David Goodwillie about divers who work in radioactive water.

 

Snow in fiction and poetry over at The Millions.

 

Walter Mosley’s This Year you Write your Novel.

 

A friendly reminder from WritingRoutines.com. Required reading if you tell yourself you don’t have the time to write.

What I’m Listening to

Leonard Cohen while I reread The Book of Longing

 

What I’m Doing

Working smarter. Writing requires deep work, not long hours.

 

Working with The Contribune, which was founded by my neighbor from middle school.

 

Watching Bogart in In a Lonely Placea classic of film noir and, if you look closely, a big influence on Californication.

 

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12 Christmas Gifts for Writers

A version of this post first appeared on Broke Ass Stuart

Writers are hard to shop for. Our tools are simple but we can be hopelessly picky about them–I don’t know how many white legal pads I’ve re-gifted–we already have all the books, and the things we really want you might not be comfortable buying (cigarettes, absinth, laudnum.)

Money is best, but let’s face it, we probably owe you money.

If by some Christmas miracle a writer managed to make it on to your good list, here are a dozen gift ideas–some of which might actually make them more productive.

 

Writing Software for Grownups

Microsoft Word is the Huffy bike from Wal-Mart of word processors; it’s a fine place to start, but you need to upgrade when you’re ready for long distance.



Scrivener is the real deal for real novelists, and an affordable alternative ($45) to Final Draft 9 for screenwriters.

 

Scrivener is for big projects and all the notes, outlines, character sketches and miscellany they entail. It uses ‘cork boards’ for outlining. There are daily word count targets based on your deadline It has space for illustrations and maps of your story world. There’s a template for multi-part novels. Anna Karenina could’ve fit neatly into Scrivener’s Russian doll of folders.

 


When you’re project is complete, Scrivener lets you compile your work into a variety of manuscript and ebook formats.

 

Single Serving Coffee Makers

Coffee is pretty much a performance enhancing drug for writers.For a writer on the road, or a digital nomad, the pour-over is the most practical and delicious way to brew up.

pour over hand drip coffee

The AeroPress is another highly portable, if slightly ugly, option that lets you go full nerd and control every aspect of the brewing process for a custom cup. There’s actually an international AeroPress competition, and you can find the winning recipes online. Asser The Coffee Chronicler has an in depth guide on how to use your AeroPress. 

 

Both of these methods brew a superior cup to traditional coffee makers. They also cut down on that bitter acid taste, which makes way for all those notes and flavors claimed by the coffee bean package.

 

Leuchtturm Notebooks

Leuchtturm notebook

For the luddite on your list, Leuchtturm is the last word in overpriced European notebooks. Smooth paper, solid construction, Leuchtturms come in three sizes and many colors. Ruled, dotted or plain. Get this,  they have numbered pages and table of contents, perfect for organizing journals and projects.

 

An Audible Membership

audible logo

Audiobooks are the actual best. Unfortunately, they’re also expensive AF. With an Audible membership, you get one free audiobook every month (or more depending on your plan) and a discount on any additional books you buy.

 

A Door that Locks

 

You can’t buy inspiration, the muse doesn’t honor gift certificates, but you can give the gift of a writing space that invites inspiration. Like leaving out cookies and carrots for Santa and his reindeer, there are things you can do to welcome the muse.

dylan thomas writing shed boathouse

On no budget, that could just mean surprising your writer by cleaning her/his desk. Buy a plant or a new lamp.

 

Working with a little more cash? Have your local locksmith put a lock on the study door; maybe upgrade the desk or chair. You could even remodel the study, rent your writer an office, or build a writer’s shed like Roald Dahl or JK Rowling. For the obstinate procrastinator put a lock on the outside of that shed’s door like Dylan Thomas’ wife put on his.

 

Special thanks to my friend Cheyne Kohl– Producer behind Underground Tracks, in Busan, South Korea–for this suggestion.

 

 

The MStand

 

The mStand by Rain Design inc  is a robust metal stand that turns your laptop into a desktop.

m stand

It will literally save your neck by putting the screen at eye-level. Pair it with a wireless keyboard and mouse for an uncluttered minimalist work space.

 

Fountain Pens

I’ve reviewed a bunch, at prices ranging from $1.50 to $150. Whether someone actually writes with this or it’s just a symbol of the craft, you can’t go wrong giving a writer a nice pen.

 

Ordinary Pens

Charles daly Irish lifeboat pen cup
My bouquet of G2s

Good old fashioned ballpoints and roller-balls are great stocking-stuffers. We especially like to get these from people who have a habit of stealing our pens.

 

 

 

FREEDOM (app.)

The Christmas classic Love Actually closes on the Beach Boys tune ‘God only knows what I’d be without you…’ That’s the song I would dedicate to the Freedom app.

Freedom: Internet, App and Website Blocker

Easily block websites and apps on your computer, phone, and tablet with Freedom. The original and best website and internet blocker – Freedom blocks distractions so you can be more focused and productive. Freedom works on Mac, Windows, Android, iOS, Chrome, and Linux devices. Try it for free today!

Freedom blocks your computer’s access to the internet. You set a timer, how many minutes or hours of ‘freedom’ you want, and you’re off the grid. Freedom can’t be switched off or overridden in any way before the timer runs out. In the words of Neil Gaiman, it ‘makes your computer something that’s never heard of the internet.’

 

LEGO Death Star

There’s nothing like legos to get you creating and problem solving on a different wavelength. If you’re going to slack off, this is one of the most productive ways to to do it. In the documentary 6 Days to Air the South Park guys show off their legos, which they use as an outlet when they’re creatively stuck.

lego death star

There are obviously less expensive sets, but the death star is just badass.

 

Red Ryder BB Gun

red ryder bb gun

Made famous by A Christmas Story, this iconic plinker makes an epic desk toy. It’s not so powerful or loud that you can’t use it indoors. Set up a paper target, on the other side of the room, with a shoebox to catch the BBs and practice your marksmanship when the words aren’t coming. Just don’t shoot your eye out.

 

A Writer’s Retreat

vermont long trail
My Osprey pack for company, somewhere in Vermont, 2016.

Design a getaway for/ with the writer in your life, whether it’s for a week in the country, a year in Thailand, or just a day at home with your phones switched off.

 

 

Bonus: Hunter S. Thompson Burning a Christmas Tree

Hunter S. Thompson – The Burning of The Christmas Tree (A gonzo binge)

www.HunterThompsonFilms.com

 

 


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