With that, we are one step closer to the release of Chapter 5 with the reveal of the upcoming book’s cover and the name for the chapter: Parting Gift.

In the video, I explain a bit about the creation process for the cover, but I don’t really talk about how the title came to be (click here if you’re wondering what news I alluded to). With the obvious caveat that some explanation would result in spoilers for the chapter, how the title was created is actually how a lot of the specific scenes and progression of the chapter came to me as well: hiking.

My wife is an avid hiker and, by proxy over the twenty-one years we’ve been together, I’ve become one as well. One of the things I love about the activity is that it gives you time alone in your head without much distraction. Physically, the only thing you need to do is make sure you’re continuing to move forward, but once you’ve rested into a suitable rhythm, you can just use the rest of the time to think. For the longest time, my wife thought I was upset because I was so quiet, but in truth I was actually just working.

Full stories don’t pop into mind during this exercise––the work is a bit too strenuous for that (for me, at least)––but I often start with a scene in mind. Perhaps it was a scene I had been stuck on or, perhaps, it’s a scene that wasn’t really fleshed out. With the repetitive crunching of dirt underfoot and the hum of my steady breathing keeping out the noise, I whittle away at the details in small strokes until, after awhile, the scene is crystalline.

At that point, I usually have to stop and take notes in my phone.

Such was the case with the title of this new chapter––”Parting Gift.” I had worked out a pivotal [REDACTED] scene and the nature of it called the phrase to mind. When I started again on the trail, the phrase hovered in my view and I actually saw that it really worked as a catch-all idea––earnestly in some cases, ironically in others––for the entire chapter.

But I balked after awhile––it didn’t seem cool enough and it seemed awkward. It didn’t feel like a “light bulb” moment the way “Dead Words” was when it naturally emerged while scripting the second Dogtown scene for Chapter 4. So, I pushed against it for a long time before just accepting it and now, seeing it written out and on the cover for Chapter 5, I love it.

The finished cover for Long John, Volume 5, “Parting Gift.” Click for larger version.