I was recently asked by a friend about my journey into the world of writing. It is always interesting and enlightening to reflect back on how we got from one point in our life to another. That may not be true, of course, if the end result is negative or sad, but most of the time we track ourselves going from rookie to experienced, slacker to responsible, and childish to mature. Again – most of the time. This is one of those cases for me. I clearly remember forcing myself to write things in high school while every lazy-bone in my body screamed for me to quit and play basketball. But, I also clearly remember the positive feedback and praise I garnered from friends and teachers that build my self-esteem and fueled the flames of more writing – eventually – after basketball.
The single biggest change that caused me to increase my writing production didn’t happen until a decade and a half after I graduated from high school. It was the purchase of our first computer in 1986. An Apple 2-E, which cost us a whopping twenty-five hundred dollars. Remember, that’s 1986 dollars too! The freedom from typos, White Out, and worry about misspelled words was absolutely liberating. I had been a fairly good typist since high school, but the “error free” requirements of college papers had turned me into a pay-an-expert wimp for all my graduate papers and other writing – all done on yellow legal pads. As you clearly know, I still have my share of typing mistakes and misspelled words – usually words that are real, just not the right words – but the freedom to edit, change, and correct all those beautiful red-underlined-computer-generated errors is, well – empowering.
My first act of liberation was to write a short novel based on my experiences, at the time, of being a Police Chaplain with the Fairfax County Police Department. I wrote it as fiction to cover the names and places of the real incidents, and to put a unifying plot into the story, but the vast majority of what I wrote about truly happened. I entitled it Rev because I told the guys to call me Mike not Rev, which of course led to most of them calling me Rev. Our only Hispanic officer called me Padre and one other officer sarcastically called me “Your Holiness,” but many really did just call me Mike. Back then, you could send manuscripts strait to publishers, which I did, and actually received some positive comments and suggestions from big publishing editors, but no one wanted to take the chance and publish it. So I published it with a small university press and, as far as I know, I have the only copies available if anyone wanted one. It was a long time ago, but – I’m still very proud of it – and my time with the great men and women of the FCPD.
Not long after Rev, I wrote a book about Worship. I had been studying the subject since my college days and was amazing at how my training and church experience on the subject was so dramatically different than what I read in the New Testament. In the new covenant, worship was never a day, a time, or a place – it was a life given as a total sacrifice to God. The Christian assembly was to encourage, edify, and equip one another. It was always meant to be a giving, participating, and bond-building opportunity, not a check-list for rituals, ceremonies, and acts. I called it Spilt Grape Juice, and when it was published by College Press in ’91, I was labeled a heretic and a liberal by some, and a hero by others, but today – it’s not even an issue to most. Though oddly enough, we still fuss and fume over what we want in the assembly. I wrote two additional books about worship, Unbroken Bread and Empty Baskets, but they never had the popularity of the first – even though I think they were better in some ways.
Since then, well – you only have to look at this website to see what has happened over the years. The last few years I have been doing a lot of fiction writing, with The Judas Sword and the soon to be out The Perspicacious Quandary. A third book in the series is finished but not edited, and I’m working on the forth – though other things have caused me to keep it on the shelf for the last three or so months. I enjoy it, people seem to like it, and I believe it does some good! If you have read anything I’ve written, counting this I guess, thank you. I hope I have used my talents the way God intended. I hope I have blessed you is some small way.