FEATURED ARTIST | MAY 2013
Bio: Guy Delcambre is a writer, mountain bike and outdoors enthusiast and newfound explorer of living life as a single dad to three amazing little girls. Life is far more frail and unpredictable than often noticed. That is, until it breaks. In 2010, the lives of the Delcambre family took an unexpected turn. Death, the sudden loss of a wife, mother and best friend, confronted their young family causing him and his three daughters to face a life both foreign and new. This summer Guy is publishing his first book, a recapturing and reflection of grace and grief, of love and loss and of faith as it relates to and interacts with our humanness.
Hometown: Abbeville, LA
Current city: Dallas, TX
Favorite Dallas hangout: Oak St (Denton), Common Table, The Pearl Cup, nearly any trail I can get my mountain bike onto or lake I can hang out with my kiddos at.
AHD: What is “Earth & Sky: a beautiful collision of grace and grief,” all about? What inspired you to write it?
GD: In a word: life. The book is a memoir recounting the sudden, unexpected death of my wife nearly 3 years ago. Far more than a somber story remembering a life passed in the wake of inexplicable tragedy, Earth & Sky journeys into the heart of grief, grace guiding into a new day. The correlation of earth and sky lies in the connection between and interaction of human frailty (us - earth) with faith (God - sky). Sinking in deep loss, God pursued me into the darkened depths of my heart wasting away in grief.
This story is not mine alone. It belongs to my three little daughters as well. One life that we knew together suddenly ended with no warning and left us dislodged from any sense of familiar belonging. I was widowed and they were motherless and half-orphaned. Both the story and journey belong to all four of us as we learned to live life anew and rediscover happiness, joy, meaning and reason. The inspiration to write Earth & Sky sprung up in the desire to chronicle our path together through grief.
AHD: Writing about loss is obviously challenging. C.S. Lewis', “A Grief Observed,” is a sometimes excruciating classic in the genre. Were you influenced by any such works? Did you even plan to write a book at the start?
GD: Lewis’ words echoed a strong sense of familiarity in the writing of my book. Regarding pain, Lewis poignantly wrote, “It removes the veil; it plants the flag of truth within the fortress of a rebel soul.” His words had a way of speaking life into my soul in the words giving witness to the dark treading through his own rebel heart.
I wrote as a means of bleeding out restless emotions swirling about my heart and head. Initially, I captured raw emotions in poetry, which gave me generous boundary lines to explore and confess darker fears, thoughts and prayers without worry of much sensible literary structure. Many of these poems are built into the prose of the book. The poetic spillings served as a cathartic exercise so I continued to write as I began to shape the content into story arc.
The most helpful influence in not only writing the book, but in healing and moving forward revealed itself in Kubler-Ross‘ book, “On Grief and Grieving.” I found purpose in crafting my story after spending time in this particular book where she and David Kessler expand on her model of the 5 stages of grief.
AHD: You compare publishing to reaching the summit of a mountain. How has support from the local creative community helped you to keep climbing and realize your dream?
GD: In making a successful summit, every climber knows that his effort alone will not be enough. A team produces success. The same holds true for anyone aspiring to greater heights. For me, I absolutely needed friends, peers and definitely acquaintances to continue the journey. Countless days I wanted to cap the pen, close my notebook and hope for people to forget about my announcement of a book to come. In each of those quitting days someone close encouraged me to continue and even challenged me not to be weak.
I know there to be a necessary strength in creating in and near community. When we create and craft our art alone, we subtract dimensions from and flatten our ability.
AHD: You've opted to self-publish, rather than go the more conventional publication route. Can you talk about why you made the choice you did, and why other up and coming writers should consider doing the same?
GD: By no means am I an authority on self-publishing vs. going the route of traditional publisher. I have friends on both sides of the fence with stories of success and obscurity. I should say that I think neither option is a golden ticket to getting your work to the masses. You are the creative who must steer the ship and make strong delivery.
For me, the decision came down to ownership and creative control. I work with regularity to build my platform. I blog even though I don’t always enjoy it. I’d much rather write than blog, but developing audience and voice must have prioritized space if my writing is to exist fully outside of the confines of my notebook or computer screen. I promote my writings through social media and constantly look for opportunities to connect with a broader audience. Success still comes down to sweat equity and quality craftsmanship. I accepted the reality that few authors are widely successful, and those few authors who do find success are the ones who sell the most books. Despite thin statistics and unfavorable odds, I write. I write words because I create. From within, the world internalized and then painted in words, I craft the art my hands have learned to make. So each writer and creative creates for the joy of releasing into the world parts of themselves.
I will say, it does seem to be easier in some ways to self-publish, but the tradeoff, whether you consider good or bad, is that you are the CEO and captain of your art. That being so, in considering self-publishing, you must be prepared to find opportunities and promote the work you create.
AHD: Online crowd funding is radically changing the way creatives finance projects. You're launching a Kickstarter campaign to cover the cost of publishing. How did you decide on Kickstarter, and what advice can you offer to others considering the fundraising platform?
GD: When devising my strategy for self-publishing, fundraising stood out as primarily crucial at the top of my list of necessary or fail. Without the funds to cover book design, editing, proper formatting for both paperback and ebook and several other elements, my book will not be published - that’s a reality. Kickstarter is a highly recognized brand in terms of online crowd funding. The biggest draw for me in choosing Kickstarter was supporter integration. I’ve helped fund several Kickstarter campaigns and have thoroughly enjoyed the experience of joining in on the journey and going along for the ride. I love the sense of community that develops in supporting a new personal, creative or innovative project. As for advice, if you’re going to ask, ask well. Research projects similar to yours, ask questions to those who have run a campaign before, survey friends, family and co-workers and work for excellence in presenting your project to the public.
AHD: Lines like "each meandering morning earlier than the sun ... 500 words written held more value than sleep" show your remarkable commitment to craft. To what or whom do you attribute your drive and discipline?
GD: Failure/fear - The irony here is the sweetest. Life failing for me and falling to pieces in the death of my wife then served to be one of the greatest catalytic happenings in my life thus far. The fear of life not able to hold as much value as before forged a tenacity and hunger within me for more. A courage birthed to go after what I always dismissed as such an audacious reach, writing a book and working as an author.
God/grace - In the book, I write about God’s grace positioned as a hunting love pursuing us to depths incalculable. Many of those mornings early in recovering from my wife’s death and still very early in grief, grace would find me and like a friend, wrap its arm weightlessly around my shoulder to gently keep my pace forward and into tomorrow. Without that grace, I know I would have surrendered to a day that disappeared and in turn, would have lost both now and all beauty ahead.
A timely friend. I’m honestly not too sure I would have finished my book had it not been for the strong strategy, coaching and friendship of Ben Arment (benarment.com). Ben created Dream Year, a year-long journey of not merely chasing a dream but pulling that dream into today present.
The story itself. Not telling my story and sharing my experience would have been to live muted and maimed. I believe every one of us owns a story unfolding that should be told.
AHD: If out and about in Dallas, where might we find a focused Guy buried in a notebook?
GD: I work best in moving environments whether a busy cafe, a pub holding a sense of intrigue and history or nearly anywhere outdoors. I worked on my manuscript on patios, mountainsides, park benches, cafes and pubs crawling with conversation. My thoughts deflate in deliberately designed quiet spaces. Movement keeps my thoughts open and working not overly concentrated on singular ideas.
AHD: Where can we go to support your Kickstarter campaign, learn more about your forthcoming book and follow your daily reflections?
GD: I add new content weekly at guydelcambre.com. Additionally, subscribers to my site receive a monthly email newsletter offering a sort of behind the scenes glimpse into parenting, family life, faith and new writing projects. I also just launched my Kickstarter for Earth & Sky. To find out more and support the journey, check it out.