It’s almost here!
I received the galley proof of my new book, Almost There, this week.
Writing is an amazing art form. The process of seeing something in my mind’s eye and then trying to make it visible to the reader is a tricky business, filled with potholes. It involves countless hours spent thinking and researching and dreaming. It involves late nights spent hunched over a keyboard in a dark room, weaving letters into words. Those words become the tapestry of the tale in my mind. And then I have to somehow capture it all in a few hundred pages.
Words are fragile things, you know? The frailty of words can never describe the truth of where we’ve been.
Almost There contains 39,653 words. I typed every one of them, some of them more than once, my mind brimming with questions. A lot of questions.
What words should I use? How long should the sentences be? How about the paragraphs? How can I hold the interest of the reader? How can I bring the characters and lessons to life?
What can I leave with the reader in return for their investment of time, attention and money? How can these words leave them in a place that is happier, wiser, and maybe more spiritual than they were before? How can I create a tale that is entertaining, thought-provoking and inspiring?
How can I create a work that affects someone’s life in a positive way?
I wish I could tell you honestly that I knew all the answers to my questions. But the simple truth is that I don’t.
But with those questions as my guide, I put on paper those 39,653 words, one word at a time. And then I deleted. I backspaced. I read and reread. I crossed out and penciled in. I looked up definitions and synonyms and checked spelling. I looked for errors in grammar. I looked for those pesky run-on sentences. I gave the manuscript to a trusted friend who is a writing genius, to read and offer corrections, which she did with grace and good humor. I gave it to another friend, also a genius, and he did the same.
I made changes and updates. I put the manuscript in a drawer and let it age. I pulled it out again and started the entire process over. I read and re-read it dozens of times.
And along the way, a story began to emerge. It has its roots in a true story from when I was a kid. One day it snowed, which was a big deal in my little southern home town. I got it in my head that I needed to go see my friend Rory, a journey of a few miles by bicycle, which was my singular form of transportation.
Somewhere along the way as I pedaled the snowy streets I began to think about how cold I was, followed by how wet I was, followed by how miserable I was. Soon my thoughts turned into a focus. Soon my focus turned into an obsession. Clearly I was too cold, too wet and generally too miserable to finish my trip.
So about seven or eight miles into the journey, I turned around and headed back home. Two miles from the finish line, so to speak, I gave up, I quit, finito, kaput, done. I abandoned ship. I was too focused on the misery of my situation to complete the final two miles of the trip. Instead, I decided to turn around and ride eight miles back to my house.
It didn’t occur to me until years later how often that happened in my life. Quitting was the pattern. Quitting was the legacy, the gift bestowed, passed down from father to son over many generations. Quitting was easy.
I was defined by limitations set by others, boundaries and histories and tendencies sketched out by my father, and his father before him. But I knew those places and had no desire to be an inmate of such prisons. I wanted to be different but had no idea of how to go about the overwhelming task of becoming a different me. To paraphrase Pat Conroy, I struggled with all my might not to become the man I was destined to be.
It seemed that often I gave up just before the big break came. Time and time again I was turned away from the finish line by the ghosts of those I had met only briefly, if at all.
So I decided to try an experiment. I made a deal with myself – whenever I was tempted to give up, I would stay focused just a little bit longer to see what happened. And the result changed my world.
I was astounded at how many times I realized my goal by hanging in there “just a little bit longer.” Slowly I began to understand that my future was not preset. The past held no power over me, its shackles could not withstand the force of faith. It was a wide – open place filled with all the possibility that I could ever dream of.
One day I was teaching a seminar and shared the story of my doomed bicycle journey. The telling planted a small seed of possibility in my life.
I began to think about all the times I had quit just the tiniest bit too soon. I thought about the countless people who had shared their stories of regret and “Woulda-Coulda-Shoulda” disease. I thought about all those I had met who suffered from “If-Only” syndrome.
How many of us give up just before we are poised for amazing breakthroughs? How many of us spend our time turned around backward in the seat, looking at missed opportunities or bungled relationships or fumbled decisions and, in doing so, miss the awesome opportunity which lies before us like a field ready for harvest?
So I picked up my pen and began to write.
Shortly into the process, the book took on a life of its own. I found myself, as I often do, scrambling to keep up with the story that was busily unfolding of its own accord. It played on the screen of my mind at its own frenetic pace and cared little that I was struggling to keep up. My fingers did their best to translate the images I saw into letters and words and punctuation – word pictures – that would somehow help you, dear reader, to see the images I saw, just as they revealed themselves to me.
I have tried to share their stories in the pages of Almost There; how they overcame tremendous obstacles, setbacks, disappointments and even tragedy. But unlike me, they didn’t give up too soon. Somehow they kept going in spite of the skinned knees and the bumped noses and the bruised hearts and the loneliness of failure. They kept going despite the jeers, catcalls and abuse heaped on them by DreamStealers.
They just kept on. They refused to be locked in the outpost of failure. Because somewhere in their heart and soul, in a place that is lit only by the sometimes meager light of I-think-I-can, they knew that certain success lay just around the bend, just over the next hill, just beyond the next sunrise.
They knew they were almost there.
The story begins when Dean awakes one winter morning to a magical snow-covered landscape and sets out to visit his friend, Rory. But little does he know that he has embarked on a journey that is not of this world; it is an odyssey that will change his life.
On a day filled with magic, he encounters those who have experienced everything life has to offer and have found themselves face-to-face with the ultimate decision – will they allow fear, disappointment, and set-backs to destroy their dreams? Or will they find within themselves the strength and courage to press on, to embrace a life beyond anything they ever imagined?
Travel with Dean on this tale of unforgettable experiences and characters; a wandering filled with the unknown and the inexplicable as he discovers the ultimate price each of us must pay for our dreams.
Here is an excerpt from Almost There:
“Dean-san,” he said softly, “we are who we are because of the path we walk. Along the way, there are twists and turns that we cannot foresee. Sometimes we walk along a smooth path, sometimes we stumble on a path filled with obstacles and hidden snares. And at other times, tragedy befalls us.” His voice trailed away softly as he turned his face slightly, presenting to Dean the grisly reminder of such a tragedy.
“Sometimes we follow the footpath of our choosing, at other times we are carried down a road that we did not choose. No matter, either way the path is ours to navigate.
“And there are times when we do not follow the path at all but instead forge our own passage. We cut a way through a wilderness where none existed before, and leave a trail that others may follow.
“That is where you are now. The way before you has not yet been traveled, thus there are no easy answers or clear directions. You must follow your heart and choose the way whispered to you by your dreams and the Spirit within you. This is your path, it belongs to no other.”
Advance orders are now being accepted for an April 1 release date! Go to terrynewberry.com and click the page for Almost There. Available in softcover, hardcover and audiobook!
Order your copy today! terrynewberry.com