Photo credit to my good buddy Matt!
It all began on Twitter, where some of these ideas in my head seem to really take off these days. It was just a random morning, nothing special, when I began having a conversation with another user with the handle @punisherstfu (someone named Roddy, as I learned later). We were discussing the written word, and how it can be both a weapon and a peacemaker. I was still smarting from the British GQ article about Fort McMurray, frankly, and then Roddy tweeted something that really caught my attention. He suggested that there were lots of writers in Fort McMurray - why weren't we writing our own story of life here?
And I stopped because it was a brilliant question, and one I didn't know the answer to. This blog has always been about trying to tell the story of my life here, and to some extent those of the others who agree to tell their story to me. Why weren't more of us doing this? And not just writers, but all of us, those who can write well and those who can't? Who was telling those stories to the world, the stories that reflect who we truly are, not the ones told by those who come here from far-off places, stay for 2 days, and have little understanding of the fabric of this community?
And that's when I tweeted Roddy back. I said let's do it. But let's not limit it to writers, let's blow this wide open and invite everyone who lives or has lived here to tell us what they think or feel about this place. And then Toddske from YMMPodcast caught wind of the little stew we were cooking up and wanted in - and we said yes, because we each bring something to this little project of ours. And the project? Well, that's the best part, people.
Fort McMurray residents, present and past, I would like to introduce you to Fort McMurray Feelings, an ebook project that I am not going to write. And nor is Roddy (who recently published a zombie ebook, incidentally). And nor is Toddske. Nope, we aren't going to write it. You are.
What we want is for you to tell us your feelings on life here. What's it like to grow up here? What's it like to come here as an immigrant? What have you found here, the good, the bad, the truth? We want you to tell us - and then we are going to publish it in a free ebook.
Yes, free. Why free? We have no desire to profit from this, and we simply want to see these stories be told. And if you aren't comfortable with your writing skills (or if language is a challenge) we want to help you tell your story, too. We can help you to write it, provide editing, and if you prefer we can do it as an interview, and we will tell your story for you. Because your stories matter. Because they are important. Because they are the truth. And because we think it is time to share them with their world.
So, this project is open to everyone. The only criteria is you must currently live here, or have done so in the past. You need to adhere to the understood rules of good taste (no racism, no sexism, and none of those other "isms"). Your story must be non-fiction. And you need to want to share your story with the world. That's it. And we will help you do it.
The intended date of publication is October 2012. Consider this your official submission call, people. If you want to write your story or tell it to us I am including links at the bottom of this post. If you are a writer who doesn't want to contribute but might like to help with editing, or interviewing those who may have difficulty writing their own story, we want to hear from you, too. And if you want to submit photographs? We'd love to see those too, and while we cannot pay you we can ensure your contribution is acknowledged.
The success of this project depends on one thing, and one thing alone. You. Toddske, Roddy, and I are fully committed to seeing this through, whatever happens, because we think it is important. Because we think it's never been done. Because we think it's time. And because we think every single one of you out there has a story to tell, and we want to share it.
So, there it is, Fort McMurray. Our time has come to shine. Your time to tell your story has arrived. Even if you have never written a thing in your life this might be the time you want to do so, and we will help you to do it in whatever way you need. It's just that important to us, people. You are going to hear a lot about this in the coming days. Toddske and Tito over at YMMPodcast are going to be talking it up, and we plan to hit the media circuit to find contributors, too. We want this to reflect who we are, Fort McMurray. And we can only do that with you. We need you - and Fort McMurray, you have never let us down before, and we know you won't now. Help Toddske, Roddy, and I tell your story. Help us tell our story, the Fort McMurray story. And then let's throw it out into the world, like a tiny bottle in the ocean. Let's take a leap of faith. And let's do it together. Because frankly, Fort McMurray, I think together we are pretty much unstoppable.