The first time my grandfather said those words to me, I must have been about eight years old and had no idea what the heck he was talking about.
What? - a place where everybody was named Norman? I didn't know.
Nor can I remember now what it was that was causing me to complain - okay, I was eight - whine. It must have seemed important, but then, at that age, everything is terrifically important, especially if it pokes at your young psyche in a negative way.
A couple of years later, I came to understand just what Normandy was all about. I studied the history of those horrifically lethal early morning hours of June 6, 1944, when a small stretch of Omaha Beach became the bloodiest piece of battlefield since Cannae.
And my grandfather's admonition came into sharp, clear perspective. He was right - I have never been subjected to the terrifying thump-thump-thump of a Krupp Arms 88mm that was aimed at me. I have never waded through pounding surf while strangers in bunkers on the clifftop above make every savage and desperate effort to end my life. I have never had to breath air that was more lead than air, while my friends and comrades are cut to pieces around me. I have never experienced the dark carnival of death.
No - whatever ailed me in those years of my youth - or anytime since - pales in comparison to that which far better men endured at Normandy. My life has been, as they say, a piece of cake.
Nevertheless, every life's road has its share of bumps and potholes. Becoming an adult, or even an older adult like myself, does not negate the opportunities for life to disappoint and dismay, or even dispirit one's soul. The only thing that changes is the substance of the disappointments. And the quality, of course.
Lately, I have experienced a fairly long string of disappointments. I am a self-published author that has been recently, and accurately, described as obscure; only a few hundred people know of my work. The story I tell is an epic heroic fantasy, quite long. When finished it will contain more than 900,000 words, about 520,000 of which are now in print. It is one long book, told in five volumes. The problem for the reader is that none of the books are episodic; nothing is resolved at the end. The story is linear, so the ending of one book simply leads into the beginning of the next.
As a consequence, most readers of fantasy are reluctant to get involved, knowing they will have to wait for the next installment. And the wait between the first three, which are out, and books four and five has been unbearably long, not just for the readers who have taken an interest in my work, but for me as well.
It takes time and money to produce a book. For the past couple of years, my family has been rocked by one difficulty after another - difficulties that inevitably steal away time and money. But since family is of incomparable more value than a book, I have willingly set the book aside time after time, and gone to see to more important things.
I admit, however, that at times I have been disheartened and dismayed. Even dispirited.
Buck up, I tell myself, again and again and again. After all, like my grandfather said - it isn't Normandy.
No, it certainly isn't.
It's just a book.
Daniel Hylton is the author of the Kelven's Riddle fantasy series.