An Excerpt From My Upcoming E-Book, “Building a Life Out of Words”

In just a few weeks an e-book I’ve written will be available: “Building a Life Out of Words.” Here are three reasons why I’m super excited about its release:

  • I get to share the story of my first year making a living as a writer – the projects I worked on, the stress and  joys of being self-employed, and what it was like taking a semi-blind leap of faith into the profession of my dreams.
  • It’s my first e-book, and I’m interested to see how people will interact with this new (for me) medium.
  • In addition to my own stories, I’ve managed to strong arm the following nine writers into writing a short piece for the book about writing for a living. Some share thoughts on the writing life; others give some practical thoughts on how to make money as a writer. Even if you despise me as a writer and a person, it will totally be worth purchasing the book for their insights. The nine writers are:

    AndiCumbo  BryanAllain  EdCyzewski
    JasonBoyett  JeffGoins  JenniferLuitwieler,
    KenMueller  KristinTennant  StacyBarton

Stay tuned for more details regarding the e-book’s official release date. In the mean time, here’s an excerpt for your enjoyment:

* * * * *

The moving truck idled in the short driveway, its back door bulging. Maile was out in our mini-van, parked on the street and pointed in the right direction.  The van she drove, like the moving truck, was stuffed – it looked like the migrant workers’ vehicle from Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath, loaded down with food and suitcases and mattresses hanging over the side (minus the mattresses and the deceased Joad grandparent).

We had to shoehorn the four kids into their booster and baby seats. Then we stacked even more things on top of them. The rain started to pour down, and the night seemed very, very dark. Maile’s parents sat in their car, parked behind the minivan, their headlights illuminating the street, their windshield wipers fighting off the weather.

I waved at Mai to wait and ran back through the garage and into the house for one last walk through, just to make sure I had locked all the doors.  My wet shoes slipped and screeched on the hardwood floors.  The stillness in the house seemed surprised at my being there, as if someone new had already moved in and I was no longer welcome.

I walked up through the empty levels. This was the home where we had brought Abra and Sam after they were born. Lucy’s favorite hide-and-seek spot was in that bedroom closet. Cade’s first bus stop was just up the road. Abra had taken her first faltering steps on those slippery hardwoods. And how many times had I made the middle-of-the-night treks down that hallway to retrieve a crying Sam?

I paused, still inside the house. What was God trying to do with our lives?  Why had he brought us to Virginia in the first place – was it just to straddle us with more financial debt, introduce new friends and then uproot us once again?  Why had he, with such seeming felicity, helped us buy this house, only to put us in a position where we had to give it back?

I just didn’t have the answers.  I locked the front door, put all the keys on the kitchen counter, and walked out through the garage, the door dropping down behind me, the light vanishing inch by inch by inch.

It was true what Tolkien wrote in The Fellowship of the Ring – adventures seem wonderful in the daylight, when the weather is good for hiking and the wind is at your back.  But at night, when it’s cold and it starts to rain, memories of sitting in your warm house beside the fire push a kind of dread in on the corners of your heart and make you doubt your fortitude. The reasons for leaving that make so much sense in the light of day hide very well among the nighttime shadows.

I climbed up into that huge moving van and pulled on my seatbelt as the final beams of light from the closing garage door slid down on to the wet street.  The diesel monster grumbled.  We hit the road, soon cruising north on Route 15, roaring towards our new existence.

Our new adventure.

I led the way.  The 26-foot UHaul bounced and heaved like a lunar module, and I could hear some of the contents creak and sway in the back.  The headlights threw a beam into the night, and I followed it north.

Then I remembered a quote that Anne Lamott uses in her book Bird By Bird.  It’s actually a quote by E. L. Doctorow, and it goes something like this:  “writing a novel is like driving a car at night.  You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.”

I think something started to shift inside of me on that drive.  I began to realize (just a seed of understanding that had a lot of growing to do) that my perspective on this move would shape my entire life.  I could look at this event as a failure, a disaster, and our move as a sort of retreat from the battles of life . . . OR I could see it as an opportunity to try something that I always wanted to try, an opportunity to live out my identity.

I could try to make my living as a writer. I could try to build a life out of words.

4 Replies to “An Excerpt From My Upcoming E-Book, “Building a Life Out of Words””

  1. teary my dear… and just the words I needed to hear this morning…

    beautifully writen, inspired and lived out!

    Much love,

  2. Oh the insights that come to us in moving vans! We’ve done it so often and each trip is like a book of lessons and emotions. So complicated. So much to process. I can relate.

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