Since leadership is not the subject of this blog, I haven’t told you yet about a great leadership book writing project I’ve been part of.
Now, however, the book is being published, so I want to focus on a part of the experience that is relevant to this blog — the writing process.
Like all stories of accomplishment, this one has a hero. Her name is Karen Longman.
Karen is program direct for the doctoral programs in Higher Education at Azusa Pacific University. But her avocation is helping the previously disenfranchised,women and people of color, move into leadership roles, especially in Christian higher education, where the small percentage of leaders from these groups has been slowly increasing. Karen has tenaciously built a network of administrators and their protegees across a wide spectrum of institutions.
Her passion for changing the face of leadership among the member organizations of the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities was apparent thirty years ago when I first met Karen . I was on sabbatical leave from Goshen College working as a Senior Fellow at the Consortium for the Advancement of Private Higher Education in Washington, DC. Even though I was reluctant at first, I joined her. Her cheerful spirit and total dedication inspired me then and still do.
Working with a group of private donors and foundations, Karen located an ideal place for leadership workshops – Cedar Springs Christian retreat center in Sumas, Washington. After many years of offering leadership workshops there, Karen turned her attention to gathering some of the more senior women mentors and putting together a book about leadership.
A Group Writing Project
In June, 2011, a group of women met to do another leadership workshop. Gordon T. Smith offered daily inspirational talks based on his biblical scholarship and practical experiences. After the workshop concluded, about 16 women remained at Cedar Springs to plan the book and to write drafts. We wrote and walked and talked and wrote and sang and prayed and ate great food together in a lush, gorgeous natural setting. By the end of the week, most people had completed their first drafts of chapters which would eventually become a book.
If you’ve never written with others in a retreat setting, you might want to try it. The resulting book breathes some of the spirit of the place. Here’s a slide show of some of the trees, flowers, nooks, swans, lakes, etc. And did I mention delicious food?
After that, editors got involved, and drafts were revised throughout the year. Karen was there with her gentle, insistent nudges, making sure busy administrators did not forget to continue making their chapters the best they could be. We had long conversations on email about the book title and cover, settling on the attractive one pictured here.
The rest of the conversations continued online, since the authors are located all across the country. The book has already sold out one printing! You can order through Amazon here or directly from ACU Press, 1626 Campus Court Abilene, TX 79601.
One of the things I like about this book is that it contains lots of memoir. Authors told real stories about what they have learned, often through the school of hard knocks, but also through formal and informal leadership education and mentoring.
It’s a book written with love for the blessings of the individual authors’ life journeys, but especially with love for future leaders.
It’s also a book that would not have been written without Karen Longman’s longterm vision, passion, and many volunteer hours.
But that’s what leaders do.
Have you ever written a book with a group of other writers? Do you have a retreat story to tell? A leadership story to tell? Would love to hear from you. And if you know anyone or any group that would benefit from reading this book, please help spread the word!