I know this guy named Ethan Bryant. He is a crazy dreamer, and I’m excited to see his crazy dreams come true. I first met Ethan via an email where he offered me a review copy of his book Run Home and Take a Bow. Since then, he has become a great friend, someone I text most days, and someone I want to play catch with. Ethan is a fantastic story-teller. I asked him to write something for my blog. This long, beautiful flowing prose is what he came up with. I love it. I’m happy to share his words with you today. I hope you will get to know Ethan as well.
I first heard these words in the movie Dead Poets Society. They have shaped me for years, even though the author who penned them died in 1862. In his fantastic book, Walden, Henry David Thoreau wrote,
I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life….
Every morning, I drive my oldest daughter to school. We listen to the radio, trying to call in on “Name That Tune” and “Are You Smarter Than a DJ?”. Our calls never go through. We play “slugbug” and laugh at the graffiti that reads, “Nemo The Wait Is Over!” And after I drop her off, I drive to the local coffee shop and sit in the back corner, where it is quiet and somewhat lonely and wafts of cookies and scones come from the kitchen. I plug-in my computer, check my emails, open up a Word document, and write my words, following the advice I received from Benson the Author three years ago.
Write your words every day. Stop in the middle of a sentence in the middle of a paragraph; it will leave you a good place to start the next day. Don’t compare your words to others, that isn’t fair to you or to them. Learn how to listen to your heart as you write. And don’t take yourself too seriously.
A couple of years ago, while working on my first book, I received a similar message from Mike the Theologian. He was one of the first people who encouraged me to take the leap as a writer/author. He was the very first one to actually pay me for my words in a story in Immerse Journal, a story about playing catch with one of my childhood heroes. Mike wrote:
Don’t let anyone convince you that you can’t do this. The greatest authors of all time had no platforms when they started writing. Their words became their platform. Your best work will come out of your creative heart, mind, and soul. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always get discovered quickly. You have to write because you are passionate about it and about getting better—and if you do, you never know what might happen. One thing I know, as you write, God will smile.
So, I write my words.
I write about baseball and Jesus and music. I write about dreams and hopes and fears and these voices that whisper to me at the most inopportune times. I write my words and my story because Donald Miller helped me learn the importance of story well lived. His book, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: How I Learned to Live a Better Story is truly one of my favorites. In it, I was reminded that we are all writing stories with our lives. He works through the application of the definition of story in a person’s life.
A story is someone who wants something and overcomes conflict to get it.
As I write, I feel the tangible conflicts of financial debt, providing for my family, and an uncertain future in an even more uncertain economy. As a perfectionist, I also feel the conflict of wanting to write words that are marrow-sucking, touching upon those raw and beautiful places within each of us while thinking that the reality is closer to words that plain and simply suck. Fear whispers and taunts that my words are just drawing attention to myself, just silly, superficial stories.
And every now and then, I get a small confirmation that this ridiculous journey of writing is, in fact, part of the story I’m called to live. I don’t have to be overly concerned with the outcome or reactions of others. I trust simply that the Word who sang all things into being still uses words to bring new life in out of the way places.
Last weekend, standing in line to get the autographs of some of my beloved Royals, the boy in front of me turned to his dad, who then turned to me and said, “Did you write a book about faith and Royals baseball? My son got a copy from his aunt for Christmas and he loved it.”
Thankfully, the dim hall lighting masked how much I was blushing. I nodded in the affirmative when the dad asked, “Would you mind if I got a picture of the two of you?” I couldn’t help but grin ear-to-ear.
Standing only twenty feet from men who were living out my dream, I was asked to take a photo with a young boy who had read my book. It was an incredibly affirming and humbling experience.
Yesterday, I received my first real piece of fan mail, from a new friend in Canada. He wrote,
I am no longer a religious person. I am totally disinterested in team sports of most kinds and find them boring to the point of pain. I know so little about baseball as to be a pre-novice. And I can’t stand Dr Pepper. Now, having totally alienated you and discrediting myself as a reviewer…
Your book is excellent. The people come alive and contribute something important to the telling of the story. You are one of the few writers I’ve come across who has successfully kept so many segments…love of family, faith, baseball, everyday life…tied together in a natural and coherent flow.
This book is a homer.
PS—GREAT cover art.
And then, this morning, I received a note from Jeremy Affeldt, two-time World Series Champion pitcher for the San Francisco Giants:
This book is a wonderful reminder that baseball is part of God’s good creation as well as a catalyst for leading us into a deeper knowledge of God and God’s Kingdom. Highly recommended for the fan of any team.
The timing of these three events is peculiar, more likely providential, as last week I was considering shelving my writing for an indefinite period of time.
So this morning, I write my words. And I listen to my heart. I hold on to the encouragement of others and remember that words can make a difference even centuries after the author has originally penned them.
Writing is slow and hard and full of questions without answers, but I’ve made some new friends that I never would have met if I kept my words to myself.
And to me, making new friends is a big part of what it means to follow Jesus.
Meet Ethan Bryan:
Husband for 16 years, and getting better at it.
Dad to two amazingly brilliant and gifted daughters.
Author, songwriter, dreamer, and story-teller.
Lover of Dr Pepper, movies, and KC Royals.
Ethan is the writer of the books “Run Home and Take a Bow” and “Tales of the Taylor“, both of which you should buy and read, then share with your friends. Seriously good stories, and a good story-teller.