Many of my friends have offered encouragement concerning the little project which has occupied many of my waking hours for the past several weeks. I actually had my first official order from one of them, even though we’re still tweaking the manuscript and trying to settle on a publisher/printer. Making every effort to see that the finished product is as good as I can make it, what is supposed to be the final draft of the manuscript is experiencing what I hope will be the final revision. Of the three who are reviewing it, one is a college English professor and a published author. Another was formerly a journalist with United Press, working in Europe. The other just happens to be an intelligent, very avid reader whom I’ve asked to serve as a “friendly adversary.” By the time it gets between the covers, the work should be one of the most carefully, thoroughly critiqued minor manuscripts ever. That, of course, doesn’t guarantee a trip to the top of the best seller lists or reviews in the New York Times.
My first “official order” came from my first real buddy growing up, Jerry Miller Perdue. In days gone by we did some serious hunting (with our Daisy air rifles which we sometimes turned into war weapons. Pretty soon sparrows and blue jays lost their appeal. They couldn’t shoot back at you! So, when we had enough for three on each side, we’d choose sides and a war was on. We had some battles that would have impressed old George “Blood and Guts” Patton and General Chesty Puller. That is, until one of the little ammunition carriers got stung in the seat and ran home crying to his momma. We got dis-armed quickly and confined to quarters.). Jerry and I explored the woods and trails, fought imaginary Indians, bandits, and “Huns” and “Japs,” and seined all the creeks around our houses. Our “call to arms” across the hollow separating our homes was bellowing out the Tarzan yell. And then we’d be out on our adventures. It was hard to tell which of us was Tom Sawyer and which was Huck Finn. After our practiced yells that would curdle and gorilla’s blood, we had to drop the Tarzan thing, because neither of us was willing to play the role of Cheetah or Jane.
Jerry was also responsible for “fixing me up’ with my first real girl friend, who was a member of his class in high school . In my junior year I asked him and Janice Moon Isley to be co-campaign managers when I was nominated for a student government office which I had no Idea of winning. At the time, I was interested in Janice, another of Jerry’s cute classmates (There was a really great class of freshmen at GHS that year,) and I thought it was pretty clever that we had our strategy sessions at her house. Dogged if they didn’t win me the election, although I made no points with Janice Moon.
My ‘best pal’ was with me the time I was going to demonstrate how I’d learned to “shallow dive.” I’d seen Joe Holt do that a couple days before when a bunch of us guys went skinny dipping after football practice. Back Creek was like the Arctic, even in late August, and as I stood on the bank in shivering admiration, Joe explained: “All you needed to do is turn your hands up toward the sky as soon as you hit the water. “Piece of cake.” And he had done it from a branch of a tree that hung out over the creek about ten feet above the water. Add to that Joe performed a beautifully executed swan dive!
I explained the technique to Jerry with the assertive, almost arrogant confidence of any teenage expert. Then, from the bank of that little stream that rambled through a meadow across the tracks, and from a spot about two feet above the surface of the stream, I dived in. Headfirst. The stream was probably fourteen to eighteen inches deep. The stars when I quickly reached bottom were bright and beautiful!
Needless to say, I was lucky to escape with only a bloody forehead and not a broken nose or neck. That was the summer I decided I’d never make the Olympic diving squad.
Jerry and I kept in touch from time to time across the years, and the friendship remains intact. Since I wanted honest, down to earth evaluation of a book which I was writing for honest, down to earth folks, I sent him an email copy of one of the drafts of God’s Comeback Kids. And asked if he’d give me his honest, down to earth opinion of the book.
Dogged if he didn’t read it! And wrote some nice things I’ll use on the book jacket or the website.
After he did that, though, he went a bit further. He brought the book up in his Sunday school class, and told me some of the class members wanted to buy a copy. Some of them who knew me back then, back when, weren’t even aware that I could spell. . . much less write. And Jerry, God love him, said he was going to buy a copy for the Bethany Presbyterian Church library in my home town.
And he didn’t even ask the price (which I don’t exactly know now). He did ask when they’d be available (‘soon’ was my best answer).
Knowing he was always as good as his word, I consider that my first sale. (Actually, payment in FULL, in ADVANCE, arrived in yesterday’s mail.) Now, all I got to do is get the thing printed! But, I got a sale! Yahooo! I got a sale!
God’s son and servant, your friend ~donkimrey
(A parting note. Those of you who think and study know it takes time. It takes concentration. And, unless you’re “full time” or some kind of automaton, you can’t just crank out stuff that’s worth writing, or reading, much less remembering or using in a practical way. I’ve made it a habit to keep and cultivate a little “thought garden,” but I’ve got sense enough to know I don’t just go out and jerk something up by the roots to see if it’s growing. Or producing anything useful, or beautiful, or edible. I keep telling me: “Be patient, Don. Be quiet. Listen. Think. Pray.” I’ll let you know when I have something of value to share.)