Scott’s Column: My Memoir
Rev. Dr. E. Scott Jones
February 7 2018
In late April 2005 I began posting my coming out story on my personal blog. After decades of being in the closet, I had only been publicly out as a gay man for a few weeks. I was excited but also quite nervous to begin sharing this story. In the days that followed, my blog often had 1,000 hits a day and many comments were left by people I had known at various stages in my journey.
Even then I anticipated turning my story of coming out while a Baptist youth minister in Texas into a book. Off and on over the years I wrote and tinkered, but the manuscript never advanced too seriously toward completion. Meanwhile, I was living as an out gay man, pastoring first in Oklahoma and then here, and working as an activist for LGBT rights on the frontline in the American heartland during the years when our movement made our greatest gains and faced enormous backlash. In other words, I was still in the midst of the story.
In the winter of 2014 I saw an ad in The New Yorker for the Yale Writer’s Conference. The Nebraska Conference of the United Church of Christ had a grant from the Lily Foundation for Pastoral Excellence. I had not yet used my share of the grant, which would soon expire. The writers’s conference looked like a great opportunity to finally determine if I was going to be a writer and if this particular book was worth pursuing.
And so that June I flew to New Haven and received the affirmation and encouragement and inspiration that the work required.
When I returned I resigned from all the community and denominational boards and committees on which I served, and I began to write almost every day and extensively on my Fridays off. Finally, I had the fire.
By the next spring I had a first complete manuscript. Along the way, I had figured out where that story ended, and I even began to work on what came next.
I returned to Yale in the summer of 2015, only six weeks after Sebastian was born. That year I was enrolled in a Memoir Intensive where the bulk of my manuscript was read and work-shopped by a handful of other writers. Then began the long season of rewrites and edits.
In the spring of 2016 Literati Press in Oklahoma City agreed to publish the book. Then began the further edits and rewrites as the editor, publisher, and copy editor did their work, and I responded. Finally by the fall of 2017 the writing was accomplished. Then design, layout, and marketing plans.
And so in March of this year, I’ll travel to Oklahoma City for a pre-publication party as advance copies will begin going out to media and critics. The book will be available for purchase in August.
Once again I experience excitement and nervousness as part of my story will be very public. But, then, that’s one reason I named it Open.