Guest Post: Writing a Book With a Homeless Man

Please welcome guest poster Alene Snodgrass, who talks about the fascinating process of co-authoring a book with a homeless man.  You may remember Alene from a guest post she wrote earlier this year.  Welcome back, Alene, and congratulations on the successful launch of your book!

Writing is hard!

There, I said it. It takes diligence and discipline. You must create the quiet time to sit down and form those words that are stirring within your soul into something that others can understand and relate to. It takes focus.

Writing a book with a homeless man is even harder!

Once you decide to share book space with a co-author, everything changes. There are two voice styles to incorporate, two schedules to work around, two different ideas about the project, and two times the amount of coordination. Can you imagine how many more obstacles there might be if that co-author happened to be homeless?

Well, about a year ago, I met a homeless man.

As we passed, he walked up to me and began reciting poetry. It was beautiful. The tone and inflection in his voice were captivating. Come to find out these were poems he had written and memorized. I dutifully asked, “Is there any way you can write those down for me?” He did. And the rest of the story can be found in my newly released Kindle eBook Graffiti: scribbles from different sides of the street.

What transpired the months following was nothing shy of miraculous.

My homeless friend began bringing me writing after writing. Mostly poetry at first. When he found out that I am an author he started stretching his writing skills. He was shy at first thinking I was judging his grammar. I wasn’t – I was enthralled by his love for writing.

We didn’t know each other that well at the time so earning his trust was of most importance. As his trust in me grew, he began to branch out and write more about his life. There was hurt and pain. There was a life story that made me wonder, “How did you end up on the streets?” I asked for more. I stretched him to write more about his life.

I could see that there was so much potential and story behind that worn and tattered body. I continually encouraged him and asked for more of the story. Maybe selfishly at first, because I wanted to know more of his story, but seriously the more he wrote the more I wanted.

It was interesting that the more he revealed of his life; the more I realized we had so much in common. He from his dysfunctional family, which eventually led him to the streets. And me from my blessed family, which led me to help the homeless on the streets.

As I sat and stared at his writings, I knew our story had to be told.

However, we wanted to write less of our life story and tell more of our heart story. The story of how we decided to trust each other, step out of our comfort zones, and love another who was different.

In weaving those facets of our writings together Graffiti: scribbles from both sides of the street was born.

About Alene: Alene loves to tell the story. With a heart for the broken, Alene Snodgrass speaks, writes, and blogs about her real life experiences serving people in the inner city. Alene’s blog,, is where many come who are seeking and searching to be challenged to find their purpose through serving others. You can connect with her on Facebook or Twitter. Graffiti reached #7 in free Kindle rankings the first day it was released. Download it here.

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11 Responses to Guest Post: Writing a Book With a Homeless Man

  1. Sandy 11/27/2012 at 07:05 #

    This is absolutely amazing. It just goes to show you, that no matter your walk in life, if you put your mind to it, you can do anything.
    Very inspired by this post.
    Thank you, Alene and Charlotte, for sharing.

  2. Positively Alene 11/27/2012 at 07:48 #

    Thank you Sandy! I have to say while it was an interesting journey, I learned so much from Rick. Important things. More than words on a page, but life lessons. I’d love your feedback on the book.

    Thanks Charlotte always!!

  3. Charlotte Dixon 11/27/2012 at 08:52 #

    It's my pleasure, Alene, this is such a great project.

  4. Carole Jane Treggett 11/27/2012 at 09:18 #

    I absolutely LOVE this post, Alene. I’ve had meaningful friendships in the past with a few people who were homeless too. I love how this book seems proof we can always bridge the big divide from ‘us’ and ‘them’!

    I know what it’s like firsthand to live six months as a squatter(well,I had verbal permission from the abandoned commercial building owner)with my clothes in a garbage bag and sleeping fully layered in the winter on a bug-infested mattress on the floor.

    So glad you two met and shared your heart story:)

  5. Charlotte Dixon 11/27/2012 at 09:35 #

    Now that's something I did t know about you,Carole Jane! Thanks for commenting!

  6. Positively Alene 11/27/2012 at 10:19 #

    Carole Jane — sounds like you have a story that needs to be told. You can surely open our eyes to what people experience and how they need our help — not critical words. Thanks for your encouragement!

  7. Carole Jane Treggett 11/27/2012 at 12:45 #

    Thanks back for your kind words, Alene. I love Charlotte’s blog and so very glad she has showcased your work and the release of your book here. I didn’t want to draw attention away from the thoughtful and inspiring post you wrote. But I will add that I was working part-time in an administrative position while in those temporary dire straits,and I’m pretty sure no one knew/guessed how/where I lived for that time.

    Really looking forward to reading Graffiti and yes,I’m even more inspired to keep going with my writing with the goal of eventually publishing my work to share someday soon too.

  8. Charlotte Dixon 11/27/2012 at 12:57 #

    I love that you guys are sharing these amazing stories, Carole Jane and Alene!

  9. Positively Alene 11/28/2012 at 05:47 #

    I can’t wait to read that story girl!!! Your graffiti needs to be heard. Thanks for your encouragement again. Blessings on your journey.

  10. Tania Belkin 11/29/2012 at 09:34 #


    This is a very touching and inspiring story. I added your book to my wish list.

    Thank you.

  11. Charlotte Dixon 11/29/2012 at 11:37 #

    Thanks for coming by, Tania!

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