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Vaughan writer lays bare biggest human tragedy for millennials

Aug. 7, 2014
By Adam Martin-Robbins

Kern Carter believes the “biggest human tragedy” is when people fail to reach their full potential and it’s something he’s seen a lot of amongst his peers.

That’s why the 30-year-old made it the focus of his first book - Thoughts of a Fractured Soul.

“It’s about a family filled with potential and the millennial struggle with ambition, expectation and the fight for independence,” Carter said. “It’s really a story about stagnation because that’s what I’ve observed most throughout my life - a lot of people with immense potential, but through whatever decisions they’ve made, which is really an issue with millennials (aka Generation Y), they just never amount to what they’re supposed to.”

The story, centred on main character Corey Thomas, is told through a series of reflective, fragmented thoughts - some just a few lines long, while others extend over a couple of pages.

 “I didn’t want to tell a linear story,” Carter said. “I didn’t want to tell a coming-of-age story where somebody goes from being poor to being rich. I didn’t want to tell that story because I don’t see that. I see a bunch of people that want to change the world and have these big ideas and these big dreams, but most of the time they don’t really fulfill that potential.”

He started the book in 2007, but struggled to find a story that he really wanted to tell.

It wasn’t until Carter returned to university in 2012 to take some master’s courses that he found his stride.

“I hadn’t written for three or four months, so it was kind of off my mind,” Carter explained. “Just being in that environment, not worrying about work, just going to school, going to the library all time, it just really freed up my creativity and I got the story and wrote it within that semester. ”

The first draft ran about 300 pages, but through the editing process he whittled it down to 72 pages.

One of his professors at St. Bonaventure University, Richard Simpson, was a key part of that process.

He read and corrected every page, despite the fact it was the end of the semester, during the final exam period, Carter said.

“That gave me so much motivation that someone would take that much time,” Carter said.

In 2013, Carter launched a crowdfunding campaign aimed at raising around $2,000 to publish the book.

He failed to hit his target within 30 days, but after the campaign ended people contacted him to offer money.

Carter said he wound up raising close $5,000 thanks, in large part, to one guy who sent him “a big chunk of money” after only reading an excerpt.

Since the book came out earlier this year, the response has been “great,” Carter said.

He’s done book readings at a few high schools and said the feedback has been really encouraging.

“The most powerful part is I got emails from a couple of kids,” Carter said. “One kid, specifically, said … he really felt, before I came into the classroom, he was that person who couldn’t get their potential up and would be kind of lazy. Then he really took hold of his life.

“He had an assignment due, it was a memoir, and, he said, he went so hard at that memoir the teacher absolutely loved it. She kept it and she’s going to use it as a reference for other students. He emailed me and thanked me and said he’s really got his life together.”

Still, Carter says he won’t be totally satisfied until his book is commercially successful.

“Until it’s selling at a rate where I don’t have to leave my 9-to-5 job to come do this interview, for me, I won’t be satisfied,” said Carter, who works as a copywriter for a local publishing company. “I have plans for another book, but I’m really just focusing on finishing this book. I’m going to really go hard for about a year and see where it can go.”

Thoughts of a Fractured Soul is available for purchase through several online retailers including Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Chapters.