I'm an oddball, and since you're reading this, chances are you're an oddball too.
Guess what? I think oddballs are going to rule the world. That's why I've dedicated my life thus far to coming alongside and empowering other oddballs and misfits. We all need a voice in this world.
Incase you didn't believe me about the oddball bit, the above photo is one I'm quite proud of. This is me being a character that I've enjoyed bringing to life on a biweekly basis for the last three years (via local children's theater). Delbert W. Denerdski had a lonely upbringing in New York. He clings to his "information manual," which he has spent a lifetime creating, as a source of instruction and comfort when life gets out of hand, which of course it always does.
It seems life is always getting out of hand, doesn't it? We do our best to live up to our own expectations and the expectations of those closest to us, but the world sucks. Nothing goes as planned, and nothing is as it seems. Here's a photo of my family. So happy!
This is the type of life we show the world, right? Smiling, loving...happy. What if I were to tell you that one of these people is clinically depressed. Another one of them constantly feels like a failure, one hates their life, and the other struggles with being overwhelmed by life on nearly a daily basis?
Life is hard. It's especially hard when you're committed to making it better...for everyone. No oddball left behind. This is my commitment. It woke me up at 4am this morning. I believe it can be done, if we do it together.
How I've Gotten to This Place
After growing up as a redneck on a cattle ranch in Texas, I graduated as a granola from the University of Montana with high honors and an Elementary Education degree.
I then spent thirteen years developing world-changers at Boise State University and University of Utah. I poured thousands of hours into students who have gone on to do amazing things, and will do many more yet.
Working with young people allowed me to remain in a constant state of hope and belief. I've yet to have my dreams beat out of me. I still believe we can make the world a better place.
I left this former life because there was still something left undone, something I needed to do on a larger scale. But I needed all the lessons along the way to survive the effort. And so here we are.
The last eight years have been about building the foundation for a unique community of oddballs who still believe they can make the world a better place. I think you're one of those oddballs.
Storytellers have a mighty power to shape humanity. We know this to be true! It has been true in your own life, so don't doubt your ability to have the same impact on others!
We now need this power to be focused and deployed strategically in a manner that improves critical thinking and expands empathy across the human race. I think you have a part to play in this, and so I'm asking for a favor.
Consider committing to the Pirate Author Code. That's an easy one compared to what I'm about to ask next.
I'm also asking that you consider joining the community on location in Austin, TX on February 2-3 at S3 2020. I know. This is a huge ask. It will cost a lot of money. (If finances are the only obstacle, reach out to me via email. Resources are thin, but we will see what we can do to help.) We wouldn't be going through all the tremendous work required to pull off this live gathering if we didn't think it critical to the community.
To accomplish the ridiculous task in front of us (inspiring a mentally, emotionally, and spiritually healthier human race), we'll need to meet each other. We'll need to deepen our relationships. We'll need to share our inspiration in person. Then, together, we'll set about writing the stories and building the tools necessary to restore reading to relevancy for ourselves and our children...one oddball at a time. (It's about getting your story into the hands of the oddballs who need it the most right at the critical time they need it!)
I deeply thank you for taking the time to read this. I'm grateful for the community we've built so far--for all the oddballs. You're important, and you're important to me.
I thought it appropriate to leave this email off with a link to the story I'm most proud of writing. It's a pulpy little piece, certainly not worthy of any awards. But it holds a dear place in my heart as a story of a bereaved father who is doing his best to not fail his remaining three sons in the midst of a life totally out of hand. I wrote it soon after learning I was to be the father of two sons.