Introducing “Another American Childhood.”

I haven’t done a very good job keeping up with the constant stream of fail fast references and my terse commentary regarding them this year because my blogging time has been spent on another writing endeavor that will probably sound very nineteenth-century: poetry. I spent a lot of time writing in high school, studied literature and creative writing at the University of Michigan, and my first career was as a writer and editor in the Penobscot Building in Detroit. I’ve been writing ever since, but my technical career and family life have certainly taken center stage the last 15 years or so.

Back in January when my dad was in the hospital, I instinctively turned to poetry as an outlet, and the idea for organizing some of these random pieces I had collected over the years as a gift for his upcoming 60th birthday came to me as I walked the bright, miserable hospital hallways. I realized I wanted to do something for him that I had never been able to do for my mom, who died in 1997 at the age of 44 after a 20-year struggle with Multiple Sclerosis.

As I started to write and edit in earnest, I realized that, in today’s multimedia world, it would be more interesting to pair the words with images. Given that I happen to know two talented photographers, Dave Limer and Andy Schmitt, I introduced them to the project and was relieved when they agreed to help. We began pairing images with words and, to be honest, I was very surprised how quickly a basic structure came together. We shared some lunches together — seven to be exact — and a lot of emails — about 146 — over the next months, and made many, many revisions. As we neared our deadline, I thought it would be helpful to have someone with an English background review everything, and was lucky to have another literary and creative friend to call on, Michael Slawnik. Dave, Andy, Michael, and I, who work together on a daily basis as technologists, pulled everything together in time to print one copy of the book for my dad’s birthday in mid-August. It was a great day.

Early on in the process, I thought of expanding this project as a charitable effort to benefit MS, which has impacted my family in a way that is still unraveling itself. I had originally chosen Blurb as the publishing solution we would use because they print beautiful books, but the idea was concretized when I learned of their Blurb for Good program, which donates a portion of their own fees to your fundraising effort. Their technology and philanthropic model are fantastic.

I’m very happy to finally and publicly introduce Another American Childhood to you. Navigate the poems and photos on the website. Check out the page-by-page preview of the book. Buy a copy or donate directly to the MS Society if you can. And join the conversation on Facebook, where, over the next 16 weeks, we’ll be discussing the poems and photographs in order to give you a little of their background and the behind-the-scenes fun we had pulling this all together.

Any support you can give will mean more than you can imagine.