Interview with Author Daniel Stuart Olmes

Interview with Author Daniel Stuart Olmes

Behind the writing process and life’s “aha” moments.

    Daniel Stuart Olmes’ book, “Memoirs of an Ordinary Guy: The Everyday Experiences That Changed My Life"

Daniel Stuart Olmes of Fairfax County wrote and narrates "Memoirs of an Ordinary Guy: The Everyday Experiences That Changed My Life." Olmes wrote the book throughout his day, starting at 3 a.m. He wrote after that while running around Reston and Herndon, because that's when inspiration struck. Running is the ultimate distraction.

"It's very difficult to have negative emotions while you're exercising, and it's amazing what does come when you're not obsessing over everything that's wrong with your life," Olmes said.

In the shower was another place he needed to jot down his thoughts. There were ah-ha moments throughout his day. Thank goodness for the water-resistant watches Olmes used for dictation and auto-translation.

According to Olmes, writing is not about making money. It never was and will never be. He wrote the book for the benefit and enjoyment of everyone else and not for personal gain. Olmes provided an illustrative anecdote: "I haven't had a drink in 17 years."

The first few chapters of the book are about Olmes' struggle with alcohol and substance abuse. He mentioned three people he knows who have made "very courageous decisions based on those stories." Olmes understands that not everyone will make a life-changing decision as a result of something they read, saw, or heard."

However, everyone should do their part to spread more love and positivity, he said. “The more we do it, the more the universe responds," Olmes explained. Olmes devotes an entire chapter to the subject of love. He believes there are "aha moments" in people's lives. Olmes hopes that when those moments reach people, they pause and reflect. Olmes described one of those moments for him.

He was leaving his house for work one day, discouraged and depressed due to a personal issue. He comes to a stop sign near an elementary school. A woman and her young son were on their way to school. The scene was uncommon in that the boy was riding on the handlebar of his mother's power wheelchair. Olmes observed how these two interacted and how the love between them played out. It happened at eye level.

"They laughed; they were enjoying each other's company. And here I am. I was depressed about a certain aspect of my life, but I was watching this woman who clearly had a lot of things that were challenging in her life," Olmes said. According to Olmes, the first thing that occurred to him was that if that mother could smile, so could he. It's just a matter of perspective.

"Memoirs of an Ordinary Guy: The Everyday Experiences That Changed My Life," according to Olmes, is a collection of such incidents mixed in with "all kinds of stuff," such as his love of science, physics, philosophy, popular culture, and art.

Olmes says he is an introvert and an observer of the world. He is content watching things and people, what they do, and why they do it. As a result, Olmes believes he is a good listener. "I think I take in probably more information than most people to make a decision," he said.

The success of a newly published book is dependent on many factors, two of which are the selection of an appropriate title and the design of the cover. Post Hill Press published Daniel Stuart Olmes' book earlier this year.

Olmes stands alone on a path in the woods on the cover. Light rays dapple the scene. He is not in the center of the image but rather to the left, near the fore-edge of the book. Olmes crosses his arms and tilts his head and body to the left, observing something unknown that prompts him to smile back. He is present and inquisitive; his enigmatic smile begs the potential reader to open the book and read a few pages.

When asked why he chose that as the cover of his book, Olmes said that it is a confident image. "You might think it's a paradox that the guy on the cover doesn't necessarily look like an ordinary guy. By the look on my face, you can tell I'm looking at the world inquisitively and thoughtfully. I'm contemplating something deeper, giving the world more attention than usual."

For Olmes, writing the book is his way of giving back to the world that has given him so much. His wish is that the book will remind people of the importance of introspection.

"I hope that everybody who reads the book, in some small way, changes the way they see the world for the staggering miracle and beauty that it is," Olmes said.  "You don't have to see something huge and grand to recognize that the subtlety of life is where the greatest beauty exists."