As I continue to share the general concept of Manuscript Across America with friends, family, teachers and strangers, I'm confronted with a few common questions: Where are you going to go? How do you actually plan on your project creating any changes? Do you really expect people to take time out of their busy schedules to write on your scroll?
In regards to where the scroll will roll - largely where the wind blows. While I've outlined a general zig-zag pattern across the country that includes California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, New Orleans, "the South," "Appalachia," Washington D.C., Ground Zero/New York City, Detroit, Flint, Ferguson, Ohio, Iowa, Indianapolis (home of the On the Road scroll), Colorado, Utah, Idaho, Seattle and Oregon, I remain a firm believer in the magic of spontaneity. Inevitably, we'll meet people in a city who will direct us to a distant relative's house in a small town we've never heard of - or experience car trouble on a remote highway and call it home for a week. With that said, I also want to be sure to visit a diverse cross-section of American society - the richest and poorest towns, the most liberal and conservative cities, the obvious and the obscure.
Will Manuscript Across America actually change anything? Is it really just an ill-fated hippie pipe-dream? I see where you're coming from: privileged, guilt-ridden optimist goes on whimsical road trip to save the world. I get it. In fact, I have to rise above my own doubts, fears and skepticism on a regular basis. It's a daunting mission. I'm simultaneously inspired beyond belief and scared shitless. But I truly do feel called to take on this project, regardless of how much of a "success" or "failure" it turns out to be. That's the adventure, the leap of faith, the risk, the reward. Sometimes I wonder how I even came up with this crazy idea in the first place. To be honest, I can't actually remember. It just arrived - poof: Manuscript Across America - which is another reason I'm so compelled to go. When I do find myself questioning the mission, my motives, the logistics, the costs, the sacrifices, etc., it always comes back to one thing: if nobody ever attempted to do something good, nothing good would ever happen. Imagine a world without your favorite writers, musicians and artists. Imagine a world without civil rights activists, community leaders, peacekeepers, equality seekers, guardians of the environment. Imagine a world where all of your heroes had decided it would be easier to just say fuck it. Quite frankly, we'd all be fucked.
Finally, will people really take time to write on the scroll? Some will. Some won't. But don't you think it will be fascinating to see who does and who doesn't? Do the rich have more time to spare than the poor, or vis a versa? Do people in small towns really move slower than in big cities? What factors will motivate each individual who does choose to sign the scroll to participate? What wisdom will come of it? Who knows. But I'm excited to find out.