I’M ABOUT TO leave for vacation.
I’m working in my office — here in the Pacific Northwest — while in the bedroom next door my wife lies sleeping. Out in the living room lie boxes, duffle bags, and coolers. We’re about to go on a one-month camping trip to Northern California, working our way through the National Parks, exploring out-of-the-way spots, even wine-tasting.
Yesterday was our six-year, wedding anniversary.
Beginning today, I’m taking a break from social media. For the next month, I’ll be staying away from Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. I’ll rarely read the news. Instead, my wife and I have a library of books, carefully curated — memoirs we’ve wanted to read, novels, books on professional and personal growth, even stuff that just counts as entertainment. As my mentor, Walt Walker, once put it, “Into every life some trash must fall.”
But the point is, I’ll be reading. The goal is to reflect on the past year, enrich my thinking, and dream out the year to come.
Season 1 of Soul Teachers has come to an end. I’m proud of the work my team has accomplished:
- We’ve left HuffPost and launched our own website at www.thesoulteachers.com;
- We’ve created an LLC, evolved our Mission Statement, developed an operating structure, and built protocols and policies that will allow our company to grow;
- We’ve published solid content, including 26 blogs; and
- Through our Soul Teachers website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, we’ve established a readership that is wonderful and supportive.
Most important, the team has developed trust and a sense of family. That’s important for any organization.
I love working with this group.
SO WHAT’S NEXT?
First, Soul Teachers is going dark for the next month.
I’ll be spending July camping with my wife at several National Parks in California. I’ll be reading and resting, preparing for the next season.
Meanwhile, the Soul Teachers tech team is learning the ropes of launching our podcast, which will launch about a year from the date we founded Soul Teachers and began the blog. We’re also preparing to do a reboot of Soul Teachers in September. To assist us in this, we’ve hired a wonderful design/consulting team out of Cleveland who will be working with us to promote and shape Soul Teachers. They’re coming on as partners: they love our mission and our content.
Come September, we’ll also be launching a Soul Teachers workshop. This comes out of the requests we’ve had from occasional readers who have a story to tell. Using the curriculum developed for the Truth through Memoir class I currently teach on the high school level, we’ll be developing an evening class for writers who wish to learn the basics of writing memoir. We’ll also be creating a short seminar to offer at writing conferences, and offering a course online, which writers can take if they wish to publish for Soul Teachers.
In addition to our blog and podcast, we’re developing a TED talk, “The Hardest Lesson.” And finally, we’re looking forward to publishing my memoir How To Tie A Tie. This process is in the hands of my rock star agent, Chip MacGregor, who has been guiding us in developing our publishing platform.
If you’re a person who loves the kind of stories we love telling, consider giving our Facebook page a “like” and follow us on Instagram and Twitter.
I’D LIKE TO take a moment to thank my amazing team here at Soul Teachers.
Eric Bishop is our Senior Researcher, and he’s been a tremendous support to me over the past year. Mary Jo Fohner has worked as my Copy Editor: I finally gave her a title after she consistently pointed out all the spelling and punctuation errors in my early blogs.
Kara Donovan is my Senior Editor. She joined me during the last few years of writing my memoir, helping me shape the book’s theme and pushing me forward. It’s no accident she’s won the number of awards she’s gained in the field of journalism.
Andy Callahan joined me last October after I launched the blog, and he’s a co-founder of Soul Teachers. He came on as our Chief Financial Officer, but he has also taken responsibility for handling tech. With the assistance of Thane Gill, Andy will be recording and mixing the sound and music for the podcast.
Finally, there’s Ami Wagner, known to her high school Latin students as “Dubbs” (don’t ask). Ami began working with me in 1994 when we met during a disastrous theatre production (no, don’t ask about that either). We became friends, and in 1997, she began working with me in the theatre. She works as our Story Editor for the blog and is the Chief Operating Officer of the company.
RECENTLY, A FELLOW writer asked me how I’m able to post a blog each week. It’s been brutal at times — since each blog is a long-form narrative. To explain, I told him about my amazing team. There’s no way I could do this by myself: brainstorming each week’s Soul Teacher, sketching out the bones of the story, laying down the first draft, revising and polishing it, and then publishing it on time.
Did I mention I also have a teaching career? I love what I do as a high school teacher, and it enriches my life. But to do that, plus publish weekly, takes a lot of support … from everyone in my life.
This blog is only the point of the spear. So if you’ve enjoyed these weekly columns, the credit goes to my editorial team who patiently read and reread each piece, giving honest (and sometimes difficult) feedback that allows me to meet our publication standards. Editors Kara, Ami, and Mary Jo have gone above and beyond, and I am incredibly grateful.
Most important, of course, is my wife, the author Laura Navarre. She’s my alpha reader, and no blog is ever done before I read it aloud to her, listening to her response. Her support and insight are critical.
Once again, thanks for keeping up with Soul Teachers. Enjoy your summer.
Steven L. Denlinger
CEO, Author, Co-Founder of Soul Teachers