I got my first real feedback on the book today. It was good feedback – helpful, insightful, wise – and painful. Good critique is often painful.

The Gates to the Plantation Vegetable Garden

The truth is that this is by far the hardest thing I’ve ever written, and it is by far the most important thing I’ve ever written.

I’m enthralled in the struggle that is writing – to take the amorphous but somehow complete, solid ideas and move them from head to page.

I have so far still to go.

I want so much to tell the stories of these people, to find the way to tell the stories so that other people will know them, care about them, hear them. I want images to come to mind when people read these words. I want emotions to stir and fists to clench. The feedback that I received today tells me that I still have so far to go.

I’m still struggling with the how – how do I tell the stories of people for whom I might – if the records are gracious – have ten random facts? How do I portray them truthfully, honestly, fully? How do I tell my own story of this place and this process without making this story about me instead of about my search to find them? How does this happen?

I know the practical answer – one word, one sentence, one paragraph, one page at a time. But the larger answer – the one beyond words, the one that lingers in the space where theses stories live unspoken, the one that is the most real, the most true, the most powerful – where do I find that? I expect the answer is the same – in the word, in the sentence, in the paragraph, in the page.

So I write on. Word, sentence, paragraph, page. One date, one relationship, one anecdote, one person, one story at a time.

This is what I’m trying to say. Just this.

These people lived. Full. Hard. Beautiful. Broken. Alive. Just as we all do.

What story are you trying to tell? What’s hardest about it for you?

If you’re interested in more information about my project, you can check out my Kickstarter campaign and watch a brief video about the project.