Six years ago, my three boys and I started a process which culminated this weekend with the earning of our Black Belts in Taekwondo. You can see the pictures here. Now before you make too much fun of the old guy, i.e. me, just remember that I'm 43 and what you see me doing is pushing the limits of both my flexibility and equilibrium.
A few of my favorite lines from "Unwritten" due out next April.
-- Of the six million species on the planet, only man makes language. Words. What’s more—in evidence of the Divine—we string these symbols together and then write them down where they take on a life of their own and breathe outside of us. Story is the bandage of the broken. Sutures of the shattered. The tapestry upon which we write our lives. Upon which we lay the bodies of the dying and the about-to-come-to-life. And if it’s honest, true, hiding nothing, revealing all, then it is a raging river and those who ride it find they have something to give—that they are not yet empty.
Critics cry foul, claiming the tongue is a bloody butcher that blasphemes, slices, slanders, and damns—leaving scars, carnage, the broken and the beaten. Admittedly, story is a double-edged scimitar, but the fault lies not in the word but in the hand that wields the pen. Not all stories spew, cower, and retreat. Some storm the castle. Rush in. Stand between. Wrap their arms around. Spill secrets. Share their shame. Return. Stories birth our dreams and feed the one thing that never dies.
This is true for all of us—even those who hide behind masks, carts, and names that do not belong to us. --
I enjoy reading most of my ‘fan-mail.’ Readers checking in and saying they enjoyed my books. etc. But last week I received two regarding ‘Thunder and Rain’ that were uncharacteristically critical. Even angry. I stared over my coffee mug and scratched my head. Sure, I’ve received mail like this before, even worse, but something about these two notes struck me. Stuck with me. The accusations had a different tone. So, a few days later, I did something I’ve never done. I responded. The exchange occurs below. The first two emails are from readers. My letter follows.
This was sent to me, years ago, by my friend and mentor, John Dyson. He titled it, "Fishing the Aral Sea, deepest Kazakhstan." I've always loved this picture but more than that I dearly loved the man who took it.
A few days ago, I was feeling sorry for myself that my books weren’t climbing the bestseller’s lists. Then I received this note from a reader and my perspective changed. Along with my attitude. (I"m shaking my head.) This one humbled me. My focus was in the wrong place. I won’t bore you with backstory: the exchange of notes between us tells it pretty well. The first note is the note from a reader (who’s name I’ve removed). The second is my note asking her permission to post her note and use it here. The third is her response.
Warning: Her note is deeply personal, portions are painful and it takes courage—the deep-down kind—to write it.
I posted something similar to this several months ago but have since made several changes and thought it worth posting again as several readers have asked for a copy. It’s the story behind ‘Thunder and Rain.” Enjoy.
Yesterday, was the National Day of Prayer. The City of Jacksonville put on an event at UNF. Many local pastors. Current and former Jaguar players. A supermodel. Television personalities. Me. About thirty or so people had been asked to pray. Prior to the event, we were all assigned areas to pray for and over and then during the event we were given 3-4 minutes to actually pray. That worked in theory but it was tough to limit some of those pastors. I’m glad they didn’t. Loved hearing them. Wow. Some awesome men and women on that stage. Movers and shakers would be an understatement. My area was ‘print media.‘ If the shoe fits… When it was over, I was asked if I’d post my prayer. It follows here.