As a kid I sat at the kitchen table for hours watching my dad down black coffee and scrawl words in a yellow legal pad. Every Sunday morning, those words came to life for several hundred people at our local church. The eldest son of a multigenerational, preaching family, I was meant to take over my father’s pulpit. That option went off the table those nights smelling burnt coffee, listening to pen scratching paper. I wouldn’t preach. I would write. Even though I had no idea what that meant.
After four years at an East Coast, Christian college, I ran west. In order to write, I decided I needed to live in wild places, meet a cast of characters unlike any the small town where I grew up. I bounced from northern California to Kentucky, from Wyoming to New Mexico. Everywhere I went I jotted words. Sometimes I employed a yellow legal pad, sometimes the margins of day-old newspapers, in better times a MacBook Pro with enough processing power to bring down the global economy.
No definitive path exists for piecing together a writing life. I washed pots and pans. I poured drinks. I wrote movie scripts. I worked in TV news. For fifteen years I scribbled in notebooks while hiding from God.