Two years ago, my agent asked me if I’d be interested in ghost writing a memoir. I’d never considered doing such a thing but the project seemed like a good match, so I agreed to try it. I wrote a couple of sample chapters. The client and her editor liked them. They hired me.
The entire time I worked on the project, I worried. Could I tell the story well enough that people would want to read it? What if I do a bad job? What if the book is ignored? What if I don’t have the writing skill to do justice to the story? Every day I worked on the memoir I worried.
Shoshana Johnson, a member of the 507th Maintenance Company, was taken prisoner in an ambush in the early days of the Iraq War. Shana was the first black female U.S. Solder to ever be held as a P.O.W. and her harrowing experience had been largely ignored by the press. What if I couldn’t do her story justice? What if I failed? I feared my failure would only contribute to her place in history being forever forgotten. People wouldn’t know how brave she had been. They wouldn’t know how harrowing the ambush was, how frightening each day of her captivity had been, what it took for her to get through the experience. I took the responsibility seriously. For nine months, every weekend, most evenings, every spare moment, I worked on telling her story.
Finally, in February 2010, “I’M STILL STANDING, FROM CAPTURED SOLDIER TO FREE CITIZEN — MY JOURNEY HOME,” was published by Touchstone. Still I worried. What would people think?
The first reviews were good. The reviews readers posted on Amazon were also very good. Still, I wondered if I had done everything I could.
When I heard the book had been nominated for an NAACP Image Award, I was able finally to relax. It felt like a nod, acknowledgement that I had done her justice. It makes me smile. I couldn’t be more proud.