?Writing is painting a story with words.? -Curt Swarm
My phone kept ringing. The Caller ID indicated the phone call was from Colorado, so I ignored it. ?Probably something political,? I thought. ?But the election is over.? When the phone rang again, once again from Colorado, I answered it. After all, I used to live in Colorado, and still had friends there.
?Is this Curt Swarm?? a voice in a tunnel asked.
?Y-Yes.? Oh, here we go, a telemarketer.
?This is a person from your past. I don?t like to leave messages.? He identified himself. He had been a friend I used to work with over 20 years ago. ?Do you remember that book you wrote for our company??
?Uh, yes.? A sick feeling rushed through me, like a Colorado avalanche smothering everything in its path.
?Well, it?s been published, online. It?s on an internal company website. Just thought you?d like to know.?
Just thought I?d like to know? The memories came flooding back, with all the pain, euphoria, and mixed emotions of first child birth. I had worked in human resources for a medium sized manufacturing company headquartered in Colorado. It was a real good job, one that most employees would give their eyeteeth for. But I wasn?t happy. I wanted to write. To the disbelief of my family, friends, and coworkers, I resigned. To write. On the way out the door, I made a pitch to the company that I?d like to write a biography of the company founder who had recently passed away. They went for it. And would pay me a handsome fee. Only they wanted a company history rather than a founder biography. I wholeheartedly agreed, like a dying man gasping for life. This would be my start, my first published book. The company was going to publish it internally, a coffee-table book, for employee distribution. I had one year to complete the assignment.
I threw myself into the project like a wild man with a plan. Only, the writer in me wanted to write a biography, rather than a company history?after all, I reasoned, a biography of the founder is a history of the company. I had been reading a biography of Henry Ford who was similar in a lot of ways to the founder of this company. They were both brilliant, eccentric, and there were a lot of colorful stories of how they had gotten started. I wanted to write those stories. And did.
I completed the book on time and was all set to see my first book published. However, the company finally got around to reading the book, didn?t like it, and killed the whole project.
I was devastated. My world turned upside down. My family and I moved back to Iowa, and I went back to work.
Now, here was someone telling me that the book was alive and well. Apparently, through changes in ownership and CEO?s, the book was liked and appreciated as a colorful narration of the company?s humble beginnings. Sections of it were being read at company meetings, and it was available internally, online for employee reading. And printing.
I quickly had the book emailed to me and printed it out. There it was, in all its radiant beauty, the exact manuscript I had turned in over 20 years ago. They must have scanned the book and put it online.
I sat down and read it. Who was this person who had written all these stories? They were brilliant, I thought. I found myself crying. I always know if something I have written is good if it makes me cry.
This news couldn?t have come at a more apropos time. I am writing my life work. It will be available in the spring, and I needed this inspiration, like tulip bulbs need the warmth and moisture of a spring rain. You just never know what you say or do or write, no matter how long ago, will bear fruit. You gotta keep going, you can?t give up.
I can now legitimately say my first book was published.
By the way, I am conducting a free creative writing workshop at the Presbyterian Church in Mt. Pleasant on Sunday nights starting in early January. It is open to the public for people of all ages, and will run for six weeks, excluding Super Bowl Sunday, of course. Class size is limited to 12 people on a first come, first serve basis. If interested, call Esther at 319-986-5851.
Have a good story? Call or text Curt Swarm in Mt. Pleasant at 319-217-0526, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or find him on FaceBook. Curt?s stories are also read on 106.3 FM in Farmington.