UPDATE: You can sign up to the Perfect Gift for a Man project here.

Towards the end of last week, it felt like the ManWeek efforts of Reach Out and Triple J were just starting to gain some traction. There were standout posts from Mark Pollard, Scott Drummond, Julian Cole, Jye Smith, Trent Collins and Gavin Bollard – but then it just stopped. And yet, it feels like there is more to be said, more to be shared, more honesty to be uncovered.

Over the last week Mark Pollard and I have been scheming … about what happens next. And we have come up with a plan – to produce a book in time for Father’s Day here in Australia. Yes – that is the first Sunday in September.

And we want YOUR submission!

That’s right – if you have written something for ManWeek you may already be way ahead. But if you haven’t, you have a week to get your thoughts, ideas, pictures, photos etc together.

Under the working title of “The Perfect Gift for a Man” we want you to share your personal (yes, very personal) stories of becoming a man – the joys, sorrows, challenges, regrets and triumphs. We want to hear about your Dad, your Son, your first job, admitting mistakes, overcoming challenges, living with issues, illness etc. Whatever your story is, we want to hear it.

Why?

The Inspire Foundation research indicates that:

Young men are at increased risk of suicide, drug and alcohol problems compared with the general population and age matched young females. They commit suicide almost three times more often than females of the same age and are also two to three times more likely to develop schizophrenia. These problems often start in adolescence, go undiagnosed and continue into adulthood placing a major burden on Australia's health care system and society.

We want this book to show that it is possible to share, honestly, the intense emotions and experiences of “becoming a man”. We want men to read the stories of others – to find strength in knowing that others have lived through issues and gone on live a rich life. And to realise that it is ok to reach out and ask for help when it is needed.

How?

You can send us:

  • Stories: 500 or 1,000 words
  • Photos
  • Illustrations
  • Designs
  • Anything – make a song, t-shirt if you want. Whatever you’re good at – just make sure it’s yours.

As we have only just hatched this plan, we will let you know how to submit early next week. BUT to give us an indication of your interest, leave a comment here or join our Facebook page.

What’s going to happen?

This has to come together quickly. If you want to be involved, you have to send us your submission by July 20, 2009. If you don’t get us your entry by this date it cannot be included. Don’t ask.

Oh, and don’t exceed the word limit – we will either edit it down to size or discard it. If you create an illustration, photo etc, contact us for format requirements.

You will need to SIGN a release form that gives us permission to publish your work. In return you will see your name in a book, be part of a project that we hope will help make an impact on men’s mental health AND raise money for Reach Out / Inspire.

100% of the proceeds of the sale of these books will be donated to Reach Out.

Who can contribute?

We want a broad cross-section of men. So far we have the support of people within the marketing community, but we want to go far broader than this. We want doctors, lawyers, bricklayers, stay-at-home dads, artists – anyone can contribute.

Who is in the book?

So far, it is just Mark Pollard and I. Luca Ionescu has kindly agreed to create a logo for the project. But we think it will be far more interesting if you were involved too.

How can you help?

As Mark says, there are some things you can do to help us – even if you don’t want to contribute:

1. Contribute something super sweet (by Monday July 20, 2009)
If you don’t have time or don’t see yourself as a content-maker, consider adding some ideas to the project: marketing, PR, events, stunts, anything. Pull some favours.

2. Get someone interesting to do the above
So far, most ManWeek bloggers have been from the marketing, advertising, technology sectors. We want people from all backgrounds to have a stab at this. If you have a granddad with an incredible story, get him to tell it. If you know or are a musician, sportsperson, policeman, farmer, miner, journalist, tattoo artist, biker… please have a go.

3. Tell someone about it
Tweet away. Blog about it. Tell friends about the Facebook page. Please do not feel obliged to link to this blog post.

4. Help us break out of the internet
If you have contacts with journalists, bloggers, politicians… people with influence. Tell them about this project. If you’re watching your kid play soccer this weekend and find yourself standing next to a man, tell them about it.

5. Buy the book (or e-book) when it launches
Give it to a husband, a son, a dad, a granddad. Maybe consider buying bulk to give to your male staff.

So what are you waiting for? Get writing – the clock is ticking!