My Writing Journey

Writing a book is a journey.

Instead of talking about this journey in vague general terms, I am going to share my personal writing journey with you.

I am doing this because there are some places along my journey you may identify with –– and I hope that if that happens it will be an encouragement to you to begin your own journey to publish your own message.

My story begins with my grade school, junior high, and high school years. These were years that almost derailed my writing journey before it ever began. Of all things I studied in school my most dreaded subjects were reading, spelling, writing, and grammar. In fact, a couple of friends helped me write some extra credit papers so I could pass senior English and graduate high school.

During those years I was in a program similar to Boy Scouts, called Christian Service Brigade. Our badges and achievements included reading and memorizing the Bible. In Boy Scouts, the highest level of achievement is the Eagle Badge. In Christian Service Brigade it is the Herald of Christ. The last requirement to receive the Herald of Christ award was to write an essay. That was the only requirement I never fulfilled.

MORAL OF THE STORY: Don’t let negative experiences with writing in your past affect you now!

In college and seminary, I learned to tolerate writing. I loved the research. Writing became a way of expressing what I had learned.

I wrote a lot of papers. Most of them were average, but some were pretty good and received accolades from my professors.

But in my master's program, there was a requirement of a thesis which I dreaded because it was long and necessary to adhere to strict writing standards. Well, I got my thesis done and was proud of the comments I received from the thesis review committee.

Over the years those papers disappeared and my thesis is still sitting in the university library obscure to the world.

MORAL OF THE STORY: Don’t lose your content –– with tools like Evernote there is no excuse to ever lose the content you have developed.

Throughout my career, I was continuously involved in writing projects, some informal, and some formal. I wrote several papers on the development of information systems as well as some extensive software instruction manuals.

But, I was receiving a paycheck from the company. The company rules said that because they were paying me a salary, they owned the work, even to the point they did not have to recognize who developed the content.

As a volunteer, I develop content for teaching and training material for several organizations. But because they were not-for-profit and were sponsoring the training and the classes I was teaching, they would not allow the author's name to appear on the work.

MORAL OF THE STORY: Trading your content, your skills, your knowledge, and your wisdom for money –– in the long term is not a good ROI for you the author.

When my wife, Elaine, and I were in our late fifties, we were making good money in our corporate jobs. But we felt that our only contribution to the world was making corporate stockholders richer. For several years we had been using our couple weeks of vacation a year to go to Latin America and teach personal and small business finance at some churches and with a micro-lending organization.

We were sailors, so in 2006 we sold our home and cars and gave away anything that wouldn’t fit on our sailboat Ancient Path. We left Chicago bound for the open ocean and the Caribbean. Our plan was to combine our love for sailing with the work we had been doing with our church.

That changed during our cruise. We meet some Christian folks building a resort on the East Coast of the Dominican Republic. In addition to building the resort, they had plans to build a community that would better the lives of those working in their resort. They commissioned us to conduct an anthropological study of the resort workers and come up with some suggestions of how to build a moral foundation in the community that would keep it from turning into another tourist work barrio. Several problems caused them to pull out of the resort and community projects. But, our study had shown us a need no one was addressing.

We rented a facility and created an Intercultural center where we taught language and cross-cultural skills to the tourism workers.  Because of my seminary background, I taught Bible and theology classes mostly for Haitian pastors.

By 2013 the political and financial situation became such that we had to close the center down and Elaine and I returned to the United States.

I was finishing my doctoral research paper and with the advice and encouragement of my advisor, I changed the topic to examine the changes I was seeing in the United States and how that had affected our mission in the Dominican Republic.

MORAL OF THE STORY:  Sometimes changes come along in life that are so big –– we need to abandon our plans and like our sailboat tack to the changing winds.  

During the course of developing and writing my research paper, I discovered that not only our country but the entire world had moved from the Industrial Age to the Digital Age.

This had the greatest impact on my generation because we were born, educated, and began our careers in the Industrial Age.  Halfway through our careers, the Digital Age changed the rules. Society was no longer bound by geopolitical boundaries because in this new world it was a networked society.

Wealth no longer came through goods, it now came through information. Reality was changing from what we experienced in the real world to what was being experienced in cyberspace.

Many in my generation were frustrated with the world and felt like they were being left behind yet they didn’t understand why. I listened to news commentators and political pundits and it became clear they were responding and reading as if they lived in the culture, society, and economy of the Industrial Age. They didn’t understand the Digital Age had changed and their understanding and perception of the world were no longer valid.

They were like people visiting a foreign culture, even though they were living in the same place they had always lived.

My research project, like many others, wound up on the shelf of the university library.

But this was no longer the world I wrote my master's thesis in. I no longer had to beg the gatekeepers of the publishing industry to publish my work. The network society and the information economy had made it possible for me to self-publish and distribute my work worldwide.

So I enrolled in several programs on writing and publishing books. I repurposed the content of my thesis into nonfiction prose and I published my book on Amazon.

My book has not sold millions of copies. But my book was a success because I listened to what some of my readers were asking –– which was, can you help me write a book?

I thought my book was going to provide speaking and teaching opportunities. And it has in a slightly different manner.  It has provided an opportunity to help first-time authors, pastors and leaders learn to present their message through speaking and books.

MORAL OF THE STORY: Know why you want to write your book –– but be open to new opportunities that you never even dreamed of.


On the cover of the Bible, which I used through college and seminary is engraved part of the words from the Apostle Paul, “Commit to faithful men” the verse goes on to say “who will teach others also.”

Throughout my life, my deepest desire is to help others expand their sphere of influence. Working during the Industrial Age I have had the privilege of doing that with one or two people here and there. Now my book had given me increased visibility.

Because of my book and the Digital Age in which we live, this guy that almost flunked high school English is helping people write books that will affect people not only in our generation but for generations to come.

Do you have a message the world should hear?

I believe God has created each of us as unique individuals and that He has placed within each of us a message we are responsible to share with others because no one can share it the same way you can.


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