Third Quarter Report, 2009

By · Wednesday, September 30th, 2009

The third quarter of 2009 has been one of my most productive. On August 11th of this year, I completed my 22nd consecutive year as a federal prisoner, and I completed a solid draft of my new manuscript, Earning Freedom. This new manuscript describes my entire journey through the prison system, from the day of my arrest to the exciting events that are taking place right now.

I began thinking about this project during the second quarter of this year. With the end of my sentence approaching, it’s time to begin writing the story, documenting my deliberate adjustment strategy that successfully brought me through more than two decades in prison. It’s an intensive effort, requiring many fits and starts, many hours staring at the wall. It took several weeks and several drafts before I felt comfortable enough to share my first chapter with my mentor, Carol Zachary. After she reviewed and approved the sample chapter, I began writing the full manuscript. The writing became therapeutic for me, carrying me through the summer.

By the beginning of August, I advanced the manuscript to page 258. That didn’t reach the halfway point, but by then I felt firmly in control of the effort. I found a friend in Taft Camp whose wife, Peggy, is an English professor in Nevada and she became a new writing mentor for me. Mentor relationships have helped me throughout my term, and I’m especially grateful to have the privilege of Peggy’s assistance. After writing my manuscript pages in longhand, I sent them home to Carole for typing. Carole then sent the chapters to Peggy, and she returned them with suggestions on how I could strengthen the writing. I appreciated that guidance, and I learned lessons that will stay with me always. I’ve been blessed with many mentors who’ve helped me grow through all these years.

Besides Peggy and her husband, Steve, Carole and I have built a friendship with David and Judy during the third quarter. Like Carole and I, David and Judy visited every Friday at Taft Camp. They’re active in the Jewish community, and during one of their visits, they introduced me to a rabbi from the prestigious Simon Wiesenthal Museum of Tolerance. I wrote to the rabbi and introduced him to my work, and I’m grateful because the introduction from our friends David and Judy led to an invitation for me to speak at the Museum of Tolerance upon my release.

Since my release will likely come before 2012, I continue soliciting speaking engagements that will be scheduled after my release. The invitation to speak at the Museum of Tolerance was an honor, and I’m focusing on securing many more invitations to keep me busy through the first year after release. I want to share with audiences all that I’ve learned as a long-term prisoner, as I’m certain the lessons that have guided me can help  others as well.

My closest ties are to academia, so I began writing letters to professors who have given their support to me. Those letters I wrote, together with my work over the past 22 years, have led to speaking invitations at Stanford Law School, The City University in New York, Mercer University, New Mexico State University, Lauder University in South Carolina, and others. I will continue reaching out, as I hope to build a career through speaking, writing, and consulting upon my release.

On the first of September, I began page 454 of my manuscript. I was writing about the latter stages of my imprisonment, a much more fulfilling time because Carole had become the center of my life. Every morning I woke with enthusiasm, eager to advance the story and to relive the memory of our unconventional romance through sentences and paragraphs. By the middle of September, I reached page 581, completing a solid draft of the entire story through that moment.  

Carole launched a new version of our website in September too. The demands of my manuscript have consumed all of my writing energy. I’ve kept current with my daily blogs but I’ve had to suspend writing additional content for the Web. In late October, after I finish my edit of Earning Freedom and submit the manuscript to my agent, I’ll reserve more time for writing Internet content.

I’m still running every day, keeping my pledge to run every day of  2009. During the first quarter I ran 788 miles. In the second quarter, I ran 806 miles. During the third quarter I’ve run 830 miles.  This has been my longest stretch of running in my life, and I intend to continue.

My reading schedule has not been as impressive. During the third quarter I only read four books including Ten, Feu, TenMovable Feast; Death in Venice; and One Day In the Life of Ivan Denisovich. My writing responsibilities interfered with the reading schedule I usually kept. I woke every morning to begin writing before three, and I usually slept before 5:30 in the afternoon after only a page or two of reading.

As I advance into the fourth quarter of 2009, I intend to continue my daily exercise, and I will continue writing. These efforts prepare me for the challenges that await my release. My hopes are to secure a new publishing agreement in the fourth quarter, as I want to see Earning Freedom in print.

I’m grateful for the support I receive from so many, and I will continue these efforts to prove worthy of the trust I receive. My journey to earn freedom continues.

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

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