Worthless Boy: A Memoir
by Orva Schrock
Copyright © September 2011
Imagine being the outsider amongst a dozen siblings. You are the one who is eager to fit in and be a good worker like your older brothers, but you are labeled “worthless” by your father. You yearn for the attention of your mother, but she is too busy raising your younger siblings and attending to the family household. This is what I write my essay about.
Imagine being this child in an Amish household, eager for the attention that a young blossoming mind deserves, but lost in a world of religious stronghold and misunderstanding.
This was the childhood of Orva Schrock, and this book, Worthless Boy, is his memoir. Divided into 2 parts consisting of just seven chapters over 81 pages, Schrock wastes not a word painting a picture of a troubled and disturbed childhood, a boy yearning for the attention of his parents but getting most persecution instead.
The book begins with this sentence: I was born as fuel for hell, or so was the deepest metaphysical understanding I was capable of.
Part 1 of the book begins when Orva is three and traces several concrete moments throughout his childhood and teen years. He longed for the attention of his father, but got mostly verbal and physical abuse which resulted in quite a bit of mental anguish which led to Orva becoming quite the young rowdy boy who acts out for attention.
Add to this the “hardcore” religious beliefs of his Amish upbringing and the move of his large family for better work to keep the family fed. Part 1 ends at his ninth grade year of school, which was also the end of his formal education.
Part 2 is a quick glimpse into the 50 years that have passed as Orva reflects on the death of his father, and spends one whole chapter quoting from various books he has read and which made him a stronger man.
Though the book is very heart wrenching, and impeccably polished when it comes to editing and formatting, it is more of a long essay and carries quite a hefty price for a book that is under 100 pages and hardcover. But, our stories are not always full of detail with long drawn out pictures. Such is the joy of self-publishing, and this is Orva’s story.
We love to hear success stories from self-published authors. Recently, we were introduced to a website called Theo-Saurus. They provide specialized children’s books for their customers and use Lulu mainly as their printer. We contacted Leah Herde, writer and owner of Theo-Saurus, to learn about about her business and how it works.
1. Tell us a little about Theo-Saurus. How did you come up with the name? What inspired this idea?
Several years ago, as a gift for my cousin’s two little boys, I wrote and illustrated a book for each child. Their books were handwritten and actual water color and coloring pencil art work. I am not sure what inspired me at the time but I loved being able to give them their very own book featuring them in the written story and art work. From there I started making other books as gifts for the various people in my life. I learned how to use various computer programs and improved my binding skills. This seemed to be a project that stayed with me and the more I enjoyed giving the gift, the more I learned about how to make a better book.
It was shortly after the birth of my daughter that I had the idea to try and make a business that produced custom children’s books. My husband, who is in the marketing field, was able to share his extensive knowledge on getting a product launched. He informed me that branding is important and the first step is the name.
I was looking for a name that would capture the desire to make products that defined the owner’s character. I searched my creative mind. I tried references to favorite childhood items. I was trying to find that perfect simple name that would be cute, childish but sophisticated. It seemed like I spent months of doing research on my laptop. Many evening were spent cuddled up on my couch, googling away on my computer. One evening, my husband leaned over while I was viewing an online thesaurus, looking up words like personalized or individual and he simple said “hmm, what about Theo Saurus. This is why I love him (and the name).
2. Who came up with the idea for your first book?
For my first product, I wanted a way to tell any child that received the book that each unique quality about them is wonderful. I wanted to be able to list the special things that made them exactly who they are. It occurred to me that a recipe is just that, a listing of specific things that make up our favorite food, an exciting product or an idea. A recipe for soup kept coming to mind but a cake seemed much more fun. So from there, two brothers appeared…