LFJ1_P039.410.15_loresJames Walker: The Reluctant Author

“One thing I know for sure, Jim. You should be writing books… and the FIRST book you should write should be about ‘sweet’ Jessica!” Arrgh! I was foiled again.

It was my final evaluation from the professional writing course I had been taking in 2003 to quiet the pressure from my wife Renée and others, to write a book about Jessica. Not the result I had hoped for. On the one hand I felt cornered. On the other hand I had to grudgingly admit I had discovered a love for writing. Now what?

For many years I resisted the promptings from others, mostly friends and family who knew the journey we had been on since 1978, with our youngest daughter Jessica. I just kept dodging what now seems like the inevitable. The writing course had been the last straw. I was trapped.

And so in 2004 I began to write the book that seemed to just pour out of my soul. Or I should say was washed out by my tears. I had no idea the emotions that I would release. The final catalyst was the idea that I might be able, by sharing our journey and the growth we had experienced, be helpful to others who may have just started their journey. That has come true.GUWJ4_P087.410.15_lores

What I didn’t figure on was reliving the pain that those vivid memories dredged up. I had suppressed everything so carefully over the years of ‘growing up’ with Jessica. It was a very gut wrenching experience, but now I can say, worth it.

I finished the rough manuscript in the fall of that year and then wondered what to do next. In the book I had mentioned the influence of International Speaker and Author, Josh McDowell, and wondered if I should send him a copy. I was listening to the radio that very same day and heard that Josh would be in town the next week. So I decided to go to the large event near my home and hand it to him, if I had the opportunity. I know it sounds naive and crazy, mostly naive.

As I headed over to the meeting where Josh McDowell would be, I was filled with all kinds of self-doubts. A couple of times I pulled the car over and almost turned around. Finally I got there and the place was packed. I found one seat in the very front row on the aisle.

Josh is in the Building.

As I sat there I was once again filled with doubt. I turned and looked cautiously down the aisle… and there comes Josh, striding my way looking me right in the eye and smiling. I froze.

Finally standing up, I turned in his direction. I was holding in my arms the ‘Growing Up with Jessica’ manuscript. On the cover of the notebook was a photo of Jessica. We shook hands and as I was introducing myself, and he was reaching for it, he asked me, “…who is the beautiful girl in the photo.” I handed it to him and mumbled something about my little girl Jessica.

He scanned the manuscript inside the notebook and asked me,“Jim would you do me a favor…” pausing and looking me in the eye, “…could I borrow this and read it?” I was stunned. “Sure…” I mumbled. Remember, that was why I was there. Amazing.“Here is my personal cell phone number,” Josh said excitedly, “…I will be at a family gathering in Europe in three weeks, call me and I will let you know what I think.” I was stunned into utter and complete silence. I shook my head, yes. I finally spoke, “Yes!” It was October 1, 2004.

Dragging my Feet… Again!

Now you would think that I would rush right out and ‘do something in publishing’ to get my book in print. Nope. I did call Josh and even met with him again, and he could not have been nicer and more encouraging. But when Josh called on Easter weekend 2005 from the hospital where he was recovering from surgery, I still had not moved forward. It was time to stop stalling.

LFJ1_P053.410.15_loresFinally I took the steps to get the book in print and it was published in the spring of 2006.

‘Growing Up with Jessica’ is now in it’s second edition and I just published the 10th Anniversary Edition. The book is available world-wide in both print and eBook versions.

The Reluctant Author… Returns.

The experiences we have had in ‘Jessica-Land,’ and in addition the many people Renée and I have interacted with since that first book was published have lead to the inspiration to create two more books, “Lessons from Jessica: Ultimate Caregiving,’ published in November 2015 as a print and eBook version and ‘Prayers from Jessica: Caregiver Promises,’ due out in 2016.

As reluctant as I was to become an author, I now realize how everything has come together and I find myself able to do exactly what I should be doing exactly when I should be. It is possible to have a broken heart and be filled with joy. Our family has truly been blessed by the unexpected appearance of little Jessica Elizabeth, she truly is our ‘blessed one… consecrated to God.”