Writing for a purpose

As some of you have probably noticed, in the past few months I have been posting a lot of excerpts from my books, and also a smattering of my other writings, short stories and autobiographical stuff. The reason for this is because I am trying to promote my books (six at this point, with another on the way).

Partly I’m doing this because, darn it, I’ve been writing novels for over a quarter century now (crap, now I feel old), I’ve produced some good stuff and I want people to read it. It’s no fun creating worlds and having no one to share them with. But there’s another reason too.

For about two years now I’ve been helping run groups for adolescent boys in schools. It’s something I’m really passionate about. Childhood was a really miserable time for me and I know there’s a lot of kids out who are suffering and lost and confused and I want them to know they’re not alone. We talk a lot about the journey to manhood and what kind of men they’re going to be. We try to help them with things like managing their anger, building better relationships, forgiveness, taking responsibility and so on. Wherever we can help them.

I got my Masters in Social Work last spring, wondering how in the world I was going to continue this work. There weren’t any jobs doing this. I got involved in a book project, but at best there’d be no income from that for at least two years (that project is currently on hold). Realistically, I probably should have just done the sensible thing and gotten a job somewhere. Put this stuff on hold until later. But I’ve never been big on the sensible stuff. I prefer to follow my heart and it’s mostly worked out so far (See, How I met your Swiss mother). On top of that, I already had two groups of boys I’d been working with for a whole year (part of my internship in the grad program). I didn’t want to walk out on them.

What I wanted to do was just move in that direction and trust that it would work out. Which meant continuing on at the school as a volunteer while trying to get my foot in the door at other schools. Pity my poor wife, Claudia. “You just finished two years of grad school—at an exorbitant cost—and now, instead of a job, you want to volunteer?” My wife, bless her heart, has actually been very understanding and willing to take the leap with me. On the idea that if this is meant to happen, then it will happen. If not, then at least we tried.

So, we slashed all our expenses, Claudia picked up some extra work, I subbed at a high school and I did my volunteering while we waited for something to break loose. In January things got a little better. And a lot more intense. I got a temporary, part time job with a small non-profit organization called Desert Men’s Council. I was brought on to expand the school groups to local middle schools and eventually more high schools. I was also tasked with developing curriculum for the groups and collecting data so that we can gauge the effectiveness of the programs. The pay was pretty low, but it was a step in the right direction.

Overall, things are going well there. We’ve expanded into three middle schools and have a couple more who are interested. We have programs in three high schools and our eye on another one. It’s tiring work and pretty stressful. The schools of course are giving us the kids who are giving them trouble—the kids who most need what we offer—and those kids are busy testing us and challenging us to see if we’re for real and whether we’re actually going to stick around. I mean, most of them have lots of experience with the men in their lives taking off, so they’re thinking that surely we’ll take off too once we see how “rotten” they are.

It’s difficult and stressful and sometimes I come home and just want to cry and go to bed, but I’m committed to it. The organization wants to hire me again for the next school year but of course that depends on if they can come up with the money. For my part, I told them I’m in for next year either way (which, now that I think of it, doesn’t exactly help my bargaining power!).

Anyway, back to the books. My dream is that my books will sell to the point that I can support myself there and be able to continue working with these kids without having to make money at it. I’d like to tell the Desert Men’s Council (or any other non-profit I become involved with) that they can take the money they would have paid me and spend it on the boys.

That’s where you come in. When I first started promoting my books I was doing the standard thing, advertising and such. But my heart really wasn’t in it. The world’s too full of advertising as it is. To me it’s a form of pollution. The world needs less of it, not more. We need more connection with other people, not more ads screaming at us to buy this or that.

What I’m asking is this. If you see an excerpt from one of my books or some of my writing that is interesting to you, consider sharing it on your page or on your blog. Chime in with a comment. Even just liking it helps. Heck, tell your friends who like to read to check out my books. Help me spread the word.

Thanks for reading,

Eric

PS Here’s a link to my Amazon author’s page.

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