Capturing the History of Space Flight

I’m writing a book. Well, sorta. I’m “co-authoring” a book. Mostly. Right now I’m most comfortable saying I’m helping my co-worker David write a book. Maybe someday I’ll settle into the title of co-author but for now I’m “helping.”

David’s already written one book — Homesteading Space: The Skylab Story — with astronauts Owen Garriott and Joe Kerwin. The Skylab book (and the book I’ll be helping with) are part of the Outward Odyssey book series, which is chronicling the history of human spaceflight. This next book is about the early years of the shuttle program.

The funny thing is that I almost missed this opportunity. David first asked me about co-authoring the shuttle book a long time ago. A year? Two? I forget. I mostly thought he was joking, or perhaps just asking to be nice, so I gave it no serious thought. I said a polite “thanks but no thanks.” The truth was I felt ill-equipped for such a project. I was still very new to this whole NASA thing and extremely uncertain about my abilities to write about NASA stuff for work much less help craft an entire book on the subject. And I don’t write books. I write articles, that while sometimes run a little long, are not quite the same in length, depth or style as a book. So even if I had taken David seriously I don’t think I could’ve said yes then.

Fast forward to a few months ago — I felt pangs of regret over not having taken him seriously and not having at least given it honest consideration. When David would mention progress on the book I’d be sad. I mean, I was happy for him, but sad for me because yeah, I kinda wish my pride and my doubt hadn’t stood in the way of such an opportunity. Opportunities don’t come around like that every day.

I even found myself talking to God about it, feeling Him convicting me for not having taken Him up on a blessing He was trying to give me. There wasn’t much I could do about it at that point — another co-author had been chosen — so the best I could do was resolve to be more open-minded next time God opened a door and not try to rely on my own understanding or my own abilities but the confidence He has in me to give me such blessings. I figured at this point, that best I could hope for, would be to learn my lesson and next time such a knock came I’d be ready.

I had no idea next time would come so soon or that next time would be the same opportunity. But a few months ago David asked again, and this time it was no joke. I was astonished that God had been working on me about this for months, in what I thought was preparing me for “the next time,” when, how awesome is He, that He was working on me so I’d be ready for my second chance. I didn’t take it lightly because even doing 50 percent of the work is a major commitment. I prayed over it, talked to John, asked my mom to pray over it for me, and asked for peace.

And when all of those checked out I said yes.

It’s going to be an incredible amount of work — the first draft is due in six months — and I’m still totally incapable. But I’m excited. I’m a little scared. I probably don’t fully understand what I’ve gotten myself into. But I’m in it. And I’m grateful.

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