Date: August 6, 2006
About: Don Harris - Class of 1983
Realizing Dream a Labor of Love for QHS Grad
Realizing dream a labor of love for QHS grad
Sunday, August 6, 2006
By Holly Wagner
Herald-Whig Staff Writer
Don Harris didn't set out to write a book, but seeing his title in print still makes him proud.
It's taught him a lesson in perseverance, which he gladly shares with others.
"If you want something bad enough, don't be afraid to go after it," he says. "Dreams do come true."
Harris, a 1983 Quincy High School graduate, self published "My Desire Is to Be With You" in January. The love story grew out of a creative writing assignment while Harris was a student at Western Illinois University.
The project was only supposed to be 25 pages, "but it got longer and longer," Harris said. He developed it into a manuscript and eventually published it through Xulon Press. Xulon offers the title for $17.99 on its Web site and Amazon.com. Copies are also available through Barnes and Noble bookstores.
The story is fiction based on fact, about a young man who reads a personals ad in a singles magazine and his life is changed forever. He responds to the ad and discovers the woman who wrote it lives in the Ukraine.
They correspond and then start calling each other. Despite opposition by family and friends, the young man becomes convinced the woman is his soul mate and he flies to Eastern Europe to meet her.
"That shows love," Harris said. "If a guy is not willing to go halfway round the world to see a young lady, and she's not going to go out of her way to be with him, how much do they really love each other?"
The lovers bond and develop a relationship, which Harris said reflects reality on a global scale.
"This is an American guy in a relationship with someone once deemed from an evil empire," he said. "The world is changing before our eyes."
Harris admits that while his story is fiction, it is based on fact.
"I did have a relationship that was like that," he said. "But this is a story of my making."
Harris' tale is set in his hometown of Quincy and in Macomb where his hero is a student at WIU. He serves in the National Guard, like Harris. Harris also spent some time in Europe. Like Stephen King, he said, he creates graphically detailed settings by basing them on places he knows first hand.
He thought, too, that "if this novel ever becomes well known," it might inspire people to want to learn more about Quincy and Macomb, he said.
"People appreciate what I wrote," he said. "I've had some rewards sharing my ideas with people."
Harris, who is working in the Peoria area while looking for a teaching job, is already thinking about his next book. The idea, he said, is "What would George Orwell write about if he were still alive?" It will touch on technology and some corruption, he said. He plans to spend time researching his topic and expects the project will take several years to complete.
He believes there will be more stories down the road, "and they're all going to be something different," he said.
He's gotten positive feedback from friends and relatives who've read his book.
It's a very satisfying experience, he said, "to share your ideas and your opinions with the world."