Monday, September 04, 2006

My New Book

I recently completed the fourth draft of a book I started writing this past January. Three people who know me well are now spending a month or so critiquing its contents, with plans to give me helpful feedback. I'm so close to the project that I need fresh voices and additional perspectives to help me see how to ensure its quality and focus.

The book is a memoir, examing my life from when I was very young up until the weekend before I started college. Tentatively titled Toward Identity: A Memoir of Youth, it grapples with what I think is a universal story of a young person seeking authentic community in order to unleash his authentic self. I share stories of my family; young friends; playing sports; awakening to the opposite sex; dealing with teenage angst; and many other aspects of the seasons of life through which a young person must sojourn.

I'm now beginning to lay the groundwork for a second book, which will chronicle my unfolding journey of discovering my vocational purposes. I have a hunch this second book may take a great deal longer to write, and my hope is to get the first book published as I'm writing the second part.

Writing these memoirs is indeed a labor of love. It's not a project I had planned or expected, and developed only in the aftermath of my father Frank's passing last year. I found myself writing pages and pages about my life with him, and these thoughts became the cornerstone for a larger book project about my life in general. I already had chronicled many anecdotal incidents and insights from across the years, and decided to merge these with my reflections about my Dad in order to create a full manuscript.

In the manuscript, I also interact with a lot of my childhood writings. I cranked out about 15 little novels, and hundreds of song lyrics among other creative efforts, when I was a kid. I find that as I look at these works with older eyes (I saved just about all of them), I learn more about who I was then and who I am today. I can see and understand things I couldn't quite discern when I was 17, and this writing process is teaching me how to better understand where I am heading now.

Only a few persons might end up reading these projects. However, I am compelled to write them not for commercial success or widespread acclaim, but for my personal satisfaction and the need to simply allow them to pour out of me. If I hold them inside, "the rocks will cry out (a paraphrase from a familiar historical figure who has had a great impact on my journey)."

I do feel this first project is well-written (and hopefully will continue to improve as the result of my editor friends), and can speak to many persons should they stumble across it. But we shall see.


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