Wednesday, March 21, 2007

A decision was made

I wrote earlier about when I started to consider writing a thoughtful book for students and their questions....

One evening, my wife and I returned home and listened to our usual list of messages on the answering machine. Nancy was one of them, "Do you guys know a book I can recommend a teenager who is asking a lot of questions?"

I was hanging my jacket in the hallway closet. I turned around and in a semi-dramatic posture, bent on frustration, I said, "That's it. I'm writing a book for students!"

I lay in bed an hour later staring into the dark, remembering my student years. I remembered wrestling with questions and the long agonizing nights I stayed awake wondering if God was there. And if He was, why He seemed so disconnected from me. I remembered my fear of death. I remembered the strange looks from my friends whom I left back at the crossroads of an easier, less thoughtful, and less meaningful life. I remembered a deep compelling, the kind that drew Moses closer to a bush that didn't burn.

Then my mind was made. I would begin to write a book.

Monday, March 19, 2007

First Appearance

Google Alerts is a sweet little tool. Awhile back I inputed "dale fincher" as an alert search and Google sends me emails whenever my name shows up in a new place on the web.

Yesterday, I was notified of a page with the first appearance of my book, Living with Questions.

It will be released this September. You can read more info on it here.

I'm pumped to see this much progress from the publisher. I turned in the manuscript the end of January and am waiting to put the finishing touches of editing on it.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Where Writing for Me Began

Since I was a teen, I wanted to write. I started with journals. And then when email came along, I tried a hand at crafting letters. My typing is much more legible than my writing (let me tell you!).

When I finished graduate school (the first one) in Florida, I moved to Vancouver, BC, to apprentice at a theatre.

Now I came from a family where (how shall I say this?) the 'art of listening' did not come as a natural gift. And I wanted my family, particularly my nearly deaf grandfather and my mother, to understand my thoughts and directions and get a better idea of the inner-workings of my own life and mind.

Moving to the other side of the country was a good opportunity to invite them into my world. So I took the time and the chance to write creative non-fiction of my week. It was weekly memoir, weaving daily stories together into something they all shared in common... little pictures that formed larger meanings.

Call me narcissitic, I don't know. My mother loved them, printing out every one and putting them in a folder. I found that folder after she died.

My grandfather enjoyed them as well, though I don't remember him telling me. At his memorial service, his secretary shared that he printed them out and read them at his desk at the office.

My mother phoned me one day saying, "Grandpa feels uncomfortable with some of your letters," she said. "He thinks they are too personal to share openly." I took that with a grin, pushing outward the culture of 'uncomfortable feelings' that I had grown up with. I admired my grandfather immensely and delighted that he loved the little tomes I put together. Maybe, in some ways, they helped him push outward too.

Those writings were called "The Tales!" I wrote them for several years. And people I didn't know would email me asking to be put on "The Tales!" list. I guess they were forwarded a lot, like those spam letters people enjoy sending to keep brimstone or bad luck or a rabid tooth-fairy all at a safe distance.

Not only did I write "The Tales!" to let my grandfather and mother into my little world, but I did it to hone my writing skills... by using material I knew intimately: my own life.

Friday, March 16, 2007

What prompted the beginning...

I resisted associating myself more exclusively as speaker for students. I already struggled with my perception as 'drama guy,' even though my experience and education also included a broader integration of philosophy, theology, and literature. So when people asked me about speaking to students, I perceived it as, "Hey, 'Youth Guy,' we know you don't have anything worth saying to adults, so how about talking to our kids instead." I'd say, "Yes, I can, BUT I can speak to adults as well." And I did. In fact, I spoke to adults much more than to students until two years ago.

Through youth invitations, I discovered intense and mature questions from students. I'd talk to them. My wife, Jonalyn, would talk to them. Helping them navigate some of their ideas, I found a more difficult question emerge, "Could you recommend a book that talks about these things?"

Ouch. I couldn't. We had looked through the books available. Most of them were not accessible to a teenage education. Still more, the ones that were, didn't deal with many of the questions we did. And even those did not answer questions the way we did.

I started seeing students as a group mature enough to deal with the hard questions. Many of them as mature as their parents when it came to facing life's puzzles. These kids were asking for a lifeline to walk into a wider view of life. They wanted something in their hands to read, mull over, wrestle with.

I started to think about a book.