Reviewing the Past
The view from the Hawk's Nest is through the rear view mirror as Ernie publishes a book
“This is more than a collection of adventures. It is a book of spiritual inspiration.” My good friend and mentor Rev. Marilyn Muehlbach said that about the collection of stories I used for my book, “Every Day is a High Holy Day,” which hit the “shelves” at Amazon.com last month.
I started writing for The River Journal in 2001. Before that I wrote without any commitment to time. Most of it became exercises and were never finished or published. While in school, writing and deadlines were a way of life and I hated it so didn’t pursue it much for several years after that.
Then the opportunity to write for the River Journal was given to me and deadlines were back in my life.
There must be a better word than “deadline.” It sounds like a heart monitor when there is nothing to monitor. Is there life after a deadline? The truth is, after the deadline is when life resumes and I can do all the stuff I could not do while trying to meet a deadline.
But I digress. For nearly every issue of what was first a newspaper, and what is now a magazine, I wrote a story or a column, ending up with quite a collection.
For years I had no intention of doing anything with those columns after they were used by the paper and magazine. I did keep copies of most of them. When Facebook became a part of life I would post a piece now and then. They seemed to be received pretty well. One day someone told me they had saved several for their personal reading.
Then someone asked if I was going to collect the columns into a book. I basically rejected the idea. However, over the next few years I received usually subtle pressure, but still pressure, to put together a book.
When I started getting serious a few years ago I wondered which ones to use or whether I should write some new stuff. As I reread some of the stories I realized just how bad many of them were. Yet there were some that could possibly be saved if revised.
So a few years ago I, half-heartedly, started reading some of the old files that had been saved.
It is interesting to read a record of one’s evolution. It appears I had some qualms about sharing my spiritual feelings in print. Yet I had been part of discussions for years and had been quite open with my feelings. I guess when one puts their personal thoughts in print and out for anybody to view, a certain vulnerability is exposed, or at least perceived.
As the process developed it became a study of self-evaluation. It was more than paying lip service to self-evaluation, it was having many past feelings and attitudes back in full view.
We have all read and heard or may have said, that self-evaluation is an important part of our growth both as a human and as a spirit. But there it was right in front of me in a way that could not be ignored. I did try though; which may be the reason it took so long to get started.
Once started there turned out to be a problem: motivation. In other words, I did not have a deadline to keep me focused. Still, I took time now and then to read and study what I had said.
For a book I had no constraints regarding length so adding or cutting became part of the project, and part of that self-evaluation.
As usual, life happened and other things became a primary focus. Without a deadline it was easy to let that happen. Sometime the process was completely stopped altogether. I tried not to let go completely of the venture yet there were unintended delays.
Getting back to it always meant more of that self-evaluation. Did I still think or feel the same as what the print in front of me said? That question was constantly in front of me; if I did, why? If I didn’t, why?
There were times I almost felt embarrassed by something I said. I wondered how I could ever have held on to such ideas. But finally, after much analysis and more of that self-evaluation, I started to understand my evolution. I may have thought differently at the time but I have evolved. It is nothing to be embarrassed about; it is simply where I was mentally, emotionally or spiritually at that time, and now I have moved on.
Still, without a dastardly deadline, focus was easily redirected. Then a deadline potentially started to glow on the horizon: my wife’s plans to retire. It meant I needed to get the book done so we could have time to do our life together.
I’m not sure what that means yet; maybe we will coauthor a book as we do have a lot of stories. However, I want to be sure other distractions are not in the way of what our new life will bring.
Then my friend Marilyn read some of the works and sent me the quote I used to start this piece.
With that encouragement the book got done. “Every Day is a High Holy Day: Stories of an Adventuring Spirit” (yes that is a plug) did meet its deadline and is now available on ebooks, from Amazon, and by mid June in your favorite bookstore and on Kindle.
Ernie Hawks is the author of “Every Day is a High Holy Day: Stories of an Adventuring Spirit.” He met his deadline for this column, too... barely.