— Anderson Campbell (@andycampbell) January 4, 2013
A couple weeks ago I announced via Twitter and Facebook that I’m co-editing a book of essays with Shaun King. Here’s a little more information about the project.
The book is the fifth in a series called “I Speak for Myself.” The first book, published in 2011, contained 40 essays from 40 American women under 40 writing about what it means to be Muslim. It was co-edited by a good friend of mine from college, Maria Ebrahimji. Shortly before the release of the book, she and I talked on the phone and she expressed how it was her hope to take the book’s format, 40 contributors under 40, and expand it to other faith traditions.
This summer, the first I Speak for Myself book on Christianity will be released. It is taking on the subject of “Taboo” and will feature 40 essays from 40 American Christian women. It is being co-edited by Erin Lane and Enuma Okoro and has some great contributors. Among them are Rachel Held Evans, Julie Clawson, Micha Boyett, and others. Last fall, I was contacted again by my friend, who asked if I would help brainstorm some names for co-editors for a book of essays by American Christian men under 40. I sent her a list of names and figured I’d given her all the help I could give.
I was only partially right. A couple of week later, Maria and I spoke on the phone again and she asked if I would consider being one of the co-editors. I was shocked. I mean, I don’t have any “platform,” I don’t have a previous bestseller that will compel people to buy this book, and I don’t pastor some big church with thousands of congregants. I’m not that big of a deal, really. What I do have, Maria insisted, is the ability to pull together a broad number of perspectives around a central topic. And she’s right. Networking has long been a strength of mine and making sure that a wide and diverse group of people speak into a conversation is quite important to me. So, I agreed to edit the book and to find a co-editor with a bit more platform than I.
The next decision was to propose a topic for the essayists to explore. After batting around a couple different ideas, I settled on “fatherhood.” The subject is one with which people from all different faiths can relate: every man is a son, some men are fathers. I think it will be intriguing to see what role one’s Christian faith plays into understanding oneself as a father or a son, or the relationship between father and son. Maria and her business partner, Zahra, agreed. So, off I went on the search for a co-editor.
I had a shortlist of names and had a tie for who I’d most like to co-edit with me: Matthew Paul Turner and Shaun King. I sent Matthew a quick email to see if he’d even be interested. He was but, as it turns out, he’d just had a book proposal accepted by his publisher and wasn’t going to have the time to commit to the project (though I’d still like him to contribute an essay, so go bug him on my behalf!). So, I quickly turned to Shaun, who I was able to get in touch with via our mutual friend, Leonard Sweet. Shaun was immediately excited about the project. He agreed almost right away to jump in with both feet, even though he’s incredibly busy with a bunch of irons in the fire (if you haven’t heard of HopeMob, you must check them out). With a topic and a co-editor on board, the full book proposal was sent off to the publisher, White Cloud Press, for review. They accepted the proposal and gave us the green light to begin soliciting contributors.
It is early still, but the book is starting to shape up nicely. I’m excited about the stories that are emerging. There’s a guy who is going to write about losing a child, and another about losing his wife and now raising daughters as a widower. I have a stay-at-home dad who’s going to pen something fantastic, and a dad writing about the anxiety of parenting a pre-teen girl. There’s a new dad writing about his first child and a man writing about being unable to have kids at all. There are more stories waiting in the wings, I’m sure.
Some of the contributors you will have heard of, like Jason Boyett, Andrew Marin, Shane Blackshear, and A.J. Swoboda. Other names will be new to you. All the stories will be worth telling (and I promise not all the contributors are white!). I’m humbled and excited to be part of such a great project. I can’t wait to see how it shapes up. I’ll keep you updated, friend.