John Emil Augustine and Write Is Right: Kalamazoo
John Emil Augustine is the author of the From the Abyss book series. He also has two CDs out, and now there is an indication that there are writing workshops in store along with a Kickstarter campaign.
John, help us understand the writing workshops and how they relate to the Kickstarter initiative.
Let’s back up a bit to when my first book came out, so I can show the progression. I think people have a hard time seeing how everything I am doing fits together, so I will give my perspective.
Yes, you put out a book about your own abuse.
I did, and I had no idea the impact it would have. But I began having people write to me about their own abuse. I couldn’t believe people would do that at first, but then it occurred to me that writing to someone who understood an abusive situation was cathartic. There was healing involved.
Did you respond to these people?
I did. And I now realize I was responding much differently than someone who didn’t understand would have. The normal response is, “You’re just imagining things,” or, “Buck up.” And that’s what you tell your kids when they fall off their bike or something because we can’t dwell on the small stuff; we have to move on. However, for someone who has been raped, for example, there is a lot more trauma there to deal with than a skinned knee. But our society is stuck on “Get over it” because we really have no collective idea how to respond to a truly horrific story.
And what is the response?
I think the first response is to listen and understand. But before even that can happen, a person has to get the story out. That’s what I realized as well: I have a few people writing to me. What about those who aren’t writing but want to? What can I do for them?
Writing workshops. Having studied adult education, communications, writing, and the creative process extensively, and with my innate ability to be non-judgmental, I realized I am supposed to be encouraging people to write. When I realized that, I also realized I am doing exactly what I used to do in my writing classroom: modeling what I want people to do. In writing my book series, I am setting the stage for these workshops.
So the workshops are called Write is Right.
Yes, because writing can be the right way for people who can’t verbalize their own story to get it out. And if it’s your story, it’s only right that you should be able to own it. Getting that story out is a right that abuse victims often feel they are denied. In many ways, to write really is right.
And what is the Kalamazoo part of this?
As you can imagine, you don’t just rent a space and expect people to come for your writing workshop. You have to get the word out. Kalamazoo is hosting a fairly large book convention next year, and I am trying to get there to begin the next phase in getting the word out about my book series and the workshops. Everything is a step along the way, and this happens to be one I can’t do on my own yet. But with a little push, I will be able to.
Kalamazoo is basically a step in the right direction?
Exactly. My wife asks me, “You’re writing books, you’re recording CDs, you’re planning workshops…can’t you just settle on one thing?” I forget that it looks like I am all over the place to someone looking in. To me, everything is just part of the same goal: helping people to heal. The further I get into that cause, the more each of my little pursuits begins to fit together. Everything I do is a means to a larger end. The book convention in Kalamazoo is no different. It is just a part of the whole of my life’s work. I just happen to need a push to make this step happen.
So explain how Kickstart works to those who are unfamiliar.
You just go to my page, for example, and decide if you want to back the project. If you want to pledge a dollar or a zillion dollars, you just click the “Back this project” button and use your paypal or credit card. If you donate $10, $25, $100, or $250, there are thank you gifts I will send to you, which makes it kind of fun. Also, you will get updates as a backer and can follow the story of the project. It’s supposed to be fun and for a very good cause. There’s plenty more information about it on my Kickstarter page.
John, thank you for sharing this. The link to John’s project is https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/195668310/write-is-right-kalamazoo.
Also, John’s website is www.johnemilaugustine.com.
Thank you all for joining us today. Be sure and check out this exciting project from John and please consider supporting him as he reaches out to help those in abusive relationships.
K.R. and T.L.