I have been a fan of Adam Nathan for several months. His is one of those rare emails that I enjoy opening and then linking to his webpage. I love his engaging and soul-bearing writing style. The excerpts from his upcoming book, Walking Backwards (A journey of a thousand miles on the Camino de Santiago) are teasers—I can’t wait for the release. If only I could write as well as he! Finally, I worked up the nerve to ask him to write a guest post. I was surprised to read the following.
By Adam Nathan
I am forty-seven years old. I have written screenplays, children’s stories, songs, fiction, poetry, and essays since I was in high school. To date no movies have been made. No screenplays have been optioned. I have never had a book published. Not an article. Nothing online in anyone else’s forum. No byline. No guest posts. No letter to the editor. I have not appeared in the Acknowledgements of anyone else’s book. I haven’t, to the best of my knowledge, even been plagiarized.
Not a word.
In 2011 I took a sabbatical year in France. I set my software company to the side for a season, and I rose in the early morning and spent every day writing a memoir entitled 365. The idea was simple. My year abroad would be a great clock winding down and I would have the opportunity to write a memoir that shared what I most value in life. I’d give myself a year and not a second more. It was the writing exercise of a lifetime, run against the clock.
After returning to the States I shared what I’d written with published writer friends. It ended up being forwarded to agents, and first one agent and then another became excited. A fire was lit. There were exciting, initial calls and a roadmap for a proposal was charted. Along with the proposal there was a website to create and the challenge of developing a “platform.” It was a challenge indeed for a writer whose words had always been tucked in the back of a desk drawer.
So it became a time of furious invention, exposure and stepping out. A private writing life became public. With each post on my WordPress account, twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, my business, family and personal circles merged. What had been cordoned off into one private part of my life was shared with everyone. I am now very publicly, a writer, with public ambitions, and public results.
In November the packaged proposal for my sabbatical memoir was complete and my platform readied. My agency sent it a number of publishing houses. Penguin. Simon & Schuster. Norton. Little, Brown. Their names have been imprinted in my mind since childhood. But it is now mid-February, and only a small handful have responded. They have been gracious, thoughtful, polite, even encouraging responses, but, so far, no dice. If you are not starting to feel anxious for me, then you missed the word November.
But I have learned something quietly floating out here. I’ve realized I would keep going with my writing and my blog and my unpublished writer’s observations no matter how this all plays out. There’s a larger life satisfaction in my merged worlds, my nascent public persona and platform. My blog, which was intended to be a prop for a larger piece of theater, has, very possibly, stolen the show and my attention.
I find I am moved and appreciative of the small band of supporters who urge me to write simply so that they can read. Mine is a tiny audience to be sure, but it is a genuine audience, and I’m grateful for them. The promise of the great 6th avenue publishers appears to be one of scale now. I may already have what I want.
And it is with these modest thoughts that I am published this morning for the first time. Thank you for sharing in this small milestone, this tiny public first. Your attention has the salty hint of a breeze from the East.