When I first pitched him the proposal that I should write a book encompassing the story of his life, Arthur Lough thought the whole idea was absurd. I know he felt this way because of something he said.
I believe his exact words were, “I think the whole idea is absurd. Who in his right mind would want to read the story of my life, unless possibly as a cure for insomnia?”
Leaving aside his implication that my writing style might put readers to sleep, I tried to counter his larger objection. “A lot of people care about you, Arthur. I think many of them would love to read the story of how you moved from Northern Ireland to the States and from fundamentalism to Anglicanism. Besides, our primary purpose would not be to write a bestseller.”
“Oh, no?” Arthur responded. “Then exactly what would our purpose be?”
“I can think of at least three compelling reasons to write this book,” I answered. “First, you’re a Baby Boomer who grew up in the fifties and sixties. You’ve lived on two continents, you’ve had a lot of unusual experiences, and, in general, you’ve lived an interesting life. You’ve made scores of friends over the years, and they would welcome a summary of your pilgrimage. The magnitude of your influence and the impact of your ministry cannot be fully understood and appreciated until it is laid out as a complete tapestry.
“Second, you have a legion of former students out there, many of whom are carefully monitoring your life even now. It’s important for them to know what experiences and influences shaped you into the person you are today. They are evaluating the truth and significance of what you taught them by how you have responded, and continue to respond, to the challenges you’ve faced in your life.
“Finally, this would not be just a biographical narrative. The telling of your life story would give you an opportunity to share your deepest convictions and most cherished beliefs. You would be able to explain why you have embraced the truth which energizes your life today, why you have changed your mind about a number of things, and why asking questions and voicing doubts can actually contribute to a growing faith.”
It took all my powers of persuasion over nearly two hours of conversation, but I finally convinced Arthur to let me write his story. I’ve spent the past two weeks interviewing him in depth. I’m just about ready to start the actual writing.
“How long do you think it will take to write this thing?” Arthur asked me yesterday.
“I don’t know,” I answered. “I’ve never written a book before. I’m thinking that I’d like to have the first draft finished by Easter.”
“Shoot for St. Patrick’s Day,” Arthur said, smiling. “Then we can celebrate with a pint of Guinness.”
So, that’s the plan. Over the next eight or nine months, I’ll be writing Arthur’s story. He has agreed that the working title will be The Long Road From Healing Springs. You’ll have to read it to learn what that means.
Since it won’t be necessary for the book to achieve significant sales in order to justify the effort, we may choose to publish it ourselves, if we can find a first-rate editor. Whatever route we take to publication and distribution, the end result will need to meet or exceed Arthur’s high standards for excellence.
I will need a place to work that is relatively free from distractions. My office in Grandview Heights will serve that purpose nobly, for as long as I can keep up the rent payments. I will also need to arrange for some sort of internet connection at the office. I’ve been using a mobile hotspot, but that won’t be cost-effective for a project of this magnitude.
Over coffee yesterday, Arthur posed an intriguing question. “How do you plan to bring this book to its conclusion?” he asked. “My life is not over, and I still have more questions than answers.”
“We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it,” I answered.
In the meantime, I have to get to work.