I got unbelievably good news today. My novella, "Memories of Green Rivers", has been selected for publication by Running Wild Press. It's about a refugee worker in Chicago struggling to rebuild his life, and make sense of God, after a brutal divorce and war trauma. It's a slow-burn pace because I wanted it to be realistic, but it's always had a special place in my heart. It's one of my more personal pieces, and mainly it's about learning to find the courage to love, be loved, and to start again.
I wrote the very first draft two years ago. I asked myself what would it mean to start over. It was March of 2021, and the snow was falling outside my hotel room. It was during St. Patrick's Day week. I was still in Wisconsin after COVID and everything seemingly crashing down on me.
The river was dyed green earlier that week, and I remembered the last time I saw anything like green rivers was in northern Iraq. I then imagined someone who went through much more trauma than me starting over in Chicago, and the novella started writing itself. Oddly enough, the main character's profession - refugee worker in Chicago sponsored by Anabaptists - wasn't too far off from what I would eventually be doing. It ended up being a sequel piece of sorts to my first published story, "The Best of Weed and Whiskey," but they're both standalone pieces.
After writing it, it felt like I sat through an encouraging sermon - and I knew I had something very special on my hands.
It ended up being rejected thirty-five times over two years. I knew it would be a hard sell. It's both a piece about wrestling with Christian spirituality and a piece that takes an unflinching, honest look at the effects of unhealed trauma. It has profanity, horrific flashbacks, and it gets incredibly depressing when the main character, Eric, is acting out of numbness - whether it's through one night stands or self-hatred. But I knew it was a story worth telling, so I stuck with it. Redemption isn't found in sanitized fantasies - but in the actual mess and dirt of life. I finally found a press that got what I was about, and the rest is history.
I'm beyond excited to finally see it come to fruition, and for others to read it as well.