Here is a brief synopsis of the best and worst of my experiences in compiling and editing the men’s anthology Ordinary Men, Extraordinary Lives: Defining Moments.
1) Assembling forty diverse, stellar men to contribute transparent personal stories was a thrill for me! These men have demonstrated strong character and high achievements in their lives. Resilience in the face of adversity was one of the common denominators among the guys. (Note: For various reason, seven authors had dropped out during the course of the project and were replaced by other “great guys.”)
2) During a lengthy orientation and a couple social gatherings of Colorado-based authors, the men shared their enthusiasm for the project and engaged in vulnerable, deep dialogue, while enjoying some playful banter in the process. Many of the authors will be participating in Whole Man Expo as presenters, panelists, sponsors, and/or as volunteers.
3) Many of the men proved very flexible, open to feedback and were very collaborative with me and with our editing team during the writing process. The diligence that virtually everybody demonstrated in re-working his manuscript surpassed my already-high expectations! Some wrote as many as a dozen drafts.
4) I was delighted by the number of guys who celebrated a surprising amount of emotional and/or spiritual healing during and following their story-writing.
5) I grew in many ways throughout the project, most notably as a writer and editor and in honing my organizational and communication skills.
Challenges and Groans
1) Too often I had to “herd cats:” needing to repeatedly coax more than a few authors to mail in their contracts, story drafts, etc., (way) beyond the issued deadlines. If I hadn’t so liked and respected four of the guys, I would have fired them from the project. (I did release one otherwise-terrific man who continually broke his word.)
2) Some of the authors were adamant about saying things a particular way, or with a style that I winced at. Although I often yielded my position, I sometimes begrudgingly did so.
3) Despite my mounting passion for the project, I have needed to devote an inordinate amount of time and energy to it; sometimes it has been a veritable “grind.”
4) In several instances, I struggled to discern whether certain story content would be appropriate to include in the anthology. Sometimes I consented to the authors’ insistence about maintaining certain material; I ultimately rejected some highly controversial statements.
5) I was appalled by the number of careless mistakes I made in email communication to authors; most of these involved hyperlink errors.