so what’s it like to have a book published?

As more bloggers begin to write books, more blog readers are seeing photos of computers with coffee and pastry and time. And our captions say something like, “Finally tackling these edits!” Forgive us if it seems obnoxious – making it look like the business of book writing is all about lattes and leisure time in cozy coffee shops. It isn’t. But sometimes the work is so tedious and the resistance so powerful that we simply have to document when we see the scene around us looking even remotely familiar to what we always imagined. This, we say, is how I thought it would be. 

It’s not as fun to take a picture of the laundry mound, of the family headed off to the movies without us, of the fight we just had last night because we forgot to sign the homework papers, of the uninspired meal we’re making again tonight, of the misunderstanding looks we get from people who wonder why we can’t do things during working hours since we “don’t have jobs.”

Over the past six months, I’ve had many people ask me what it’s like to have a book published. I never know how to answer that question. Everyone who has a book published would answer that question very differently. For me, I can tell you with great confidence that writing the second book was easier. Not because of the content, but because I am learning a bit better how to balance the writing life with just plain life.

Most of the things that have changed are invisible things. My rhythms are wiser. I feel more alive. I am learning to see criticism differently. I know I can actually finish something. The fear has faded (slightly). I laugh more often. I am learning to celebrate my smallness in tangible ways.

But there is more. Now, I have easy conversations with people about things that used to be private. Having a blog is like that to an extent, but in my case, the things I wrote in the book are ten shades more personal than the things I write on this blog. So when I stand in the hallway at church and have a twenty-something single guy tell me he’s reading my book because his girlfriend asked him to, it’s a gift I never expected.

But I’m not gonna lie. As thankful as I am for gifts like these, there is always a temptation during those kinds of conversations for my inner introvert to turn me into a hallucinating Ally McBeal. And in my imagination, my eyes pop straight out of my face, my knees turn into stretchable clay, my body twists around itself in one graceful swoop, and I disappear in a swirling blur of color, right there in the middle of the church hallway with nothing but fairy dust left in my place. When I reappear, I’m sitting on the floor of my bedroom closet with a fuzzy blanket and a blindfold on. Maybe if I can’t see, then I can’t be seen.

This is what happens in my head sometimes.

Just this weekend, in fact, three different men have told me they’re reading the book. Oh, hello sir. You mean you’re reading about how I cried like a baby on my couch when I first got married because I couldn’t pick out a paint color? You’re reading about how I felt like a failure for having a c-section? You’re reading about how I used to care so desperately what people think that I actually compared it to a nuclear holocaust when I was rejected? Really? You’re reading about that? What’s your name again, sir? (Cue spinning, disappearing, fairy dust.)

And I die a little on the inside. Of embarrassment? Maybe a little. More accurately, of co-crucifixion. This is another reminder – this life I live in the body I live by faith. Again, I let go of my own reputation. Again, I release my tight hold on managing the opinions of others. All over again, I have to take the outcomes of my own choices and neurosis that I wrote about in that book and submit them into the hands of God.

So yes, having a book published is a gift and hard work and kind of fun. It is a reminder of how there is more power in sharing our weakness than in sharing our strength (as Brennan Manning so wisely has said). It provides many opportunities to embrace my own inadequacy in a good way. It’s also a little like that nightmare you have where you show up to school with all your homework but forgot to get dressed. Or that other nightmare where you stand up in front of a crowd and every last one of your teeth falls out.

But seriously, what was the alternative? Not to write the book at all? Well, I could not have done that. I tried that for a bit of time and it was miserable. I was haunted by this voice in my head, compelled to organize my thoughts around this central idea. It wasn’t clear from the start what it would end up being, but it was clear enough that I couldn’t ignore it.

Do you have a thing like that? Something that gnaws at you from the inside and only presents itself as a kernel of an idea? I hope you’ll give yourself permission to sit with it and see what comes out. I’m sure it will be worth any eye-bugging, swirling, disappearing temptations it may lead you to have.

***

Just a reminder that Grace for the Good Girl is still on sale for $5 at LifeWay, both online and in the store. The sale continues through March 11 and they tell me they can’t keep the book in stock because of your great response so far to buying at this low price. So thank you! The lovely people at LifeWay wanted to take a few minutes to chat a bit, so we jumped on Skype and here is a peek at what we talked about. (And also a peek at how Skype somehow erased my chin. Not necessarily a bad thing.)

While we’re peeking, here is the setup in my laundry room that you couldn’t see on camera. There were many more dirty clothes than is shown. I threw them in the hallway. Naturally.

And while we’re doing this, I’ve finally started the process of putting a newsletter together for anyone who might be interested in keeping updated on some things going on that I might not always put up on the blog, upcoming books and events, and exclusive content. I plan to send it out monthly-ish. If you would like to subscribe to receive these updates in your inbox once a month for free, you can sign up here. Now go buy your $5 book.

Comments

  1. Andrea says

    I have been loving your posts. I am working on writing a book and find that my fears get the best of me. I’ve pulled it back out and I’m making a concentrated effort to push through no matter what my fears may be telling me. Thank you for the inspiration. By the way – where did you get those pretty pictures along the back of the desk in the last picture?

    • says

      Fear is just a shadow, Andrea. So glad you are pushing through! And the picture on my desk is actually one long picture even though it looks like different ones. I bought it at Bombay Company several years ago. I think I got mine on clearance, actually. It was a good day.

  2. Alexandra says

    Love this post. So… honest. And I pinned that photo of your office/laundry room. It’s great. Please don’t sue me…

  3. says

    But seriously, what was the alternative? Not to write the book at all? Well, I could not have done that. I tried that for a bit of time and it was miserable. I was haunted by this voice in my head, compelled to organize my thoughts around this central idea. It wasn’t clear from the start what it would end up being, but it was clear enough that I couldn’t ignore it.

    Thank you. Again. for letting us into that magnificent brain of yours. Compelling, is your encouragement. <3
    Rae´s last blog post ..promises.

  4. says

    Yeah, I am trying to find the balance between revealing too much and just enough. Some days, I’m super vague and some days I wanna say, “well, this is exactly how it is…” I haven’t posted anything to that effect yet.

    Being published is an interesting animal, isn’t it? Both on the questions on how to get there and the questions based on what we wrote. (I wrote romantic fiction — you think your questions were embarrassing!!)
    Leanne Shawler´s last blog post ..Joy Dare Monday … Lenten Awareness

  5. says

    What I love best about your book is that you are real and willing to share your imperfections. Thank you for your insights and truthfulness, especially on the less glamorous side of publishing. It’s helpful to those of us who are still in the training ground.
    Becky K´s last blog post ..Birthday Musings From a Sappy Mom

  6. says

    I am on chapter 5, and I’m reading SLOW… It’s cutting deep, in all the right places.

    I know what you mean about being able to talk about things more easily when you write about it. My blog has done that for me, and it’s been healing for me.

    Thank you for your words that encourage and inspire, Emily!
    Katie @ simply[his]´s last blog post ..Soaring Above the Storm

  7. Shelly says

    I wish I had seen this post earlier, as I just ordered the book from Amazon this morning! I’m so excited to read it, for I now that your blog and site have been so influential the last month or so as I’ve struggled with a lot of changes in my life.

    • Shelly says

      That should say “know that your blog and site” but the “k” key isn’t working well on my computer these days!

  8. says

    How you describe writing a book…the laundry, the movie, the dinner, the fight…that is how I feel just with writing the blog. The blog where I don’t get paid. Dear Lord, what in the world will become of me when I actually land a book contract?
    Sandy Cooper´s last blog post ..Now, About That Blog Break

  9. Anna says

    I think you did/ do such a good job of sharing the personal. It really does seem to be the right balance or the kind of balance I like anyway! X

  10. Lea says

    I’d appreciate you forever for this paragraph alone:
    “But I’m not gonna lie. As thankful as I am for gifts like these, there is always a temptation during those kinds of conversations for my inner introvert to turn me into a hallucinating Ally McBeal. And in my imagination, my eyes pop straight out of my face, my knees turn into stretchable clay, my body twists around itself in one graceful swoop, and I disappear in a swirling blur of color, right there in the middle of the church hallway with nothing but fairy dust left in my place. When I reappear, I’m sitting on the floor of my bedroom closet with a fuzzy blanket and a blindfold on. Maybe if I can’t see, then I can’t be seen.”
    Thanks for putting that in real girl terms! I often feel this way after extended lecturing and public speaking.

  11. says

    So has the book buried the good girl once and for all? Or has she come raging back {at times} to devour you?

    Just wondering…..

    Cause I’m still wading in those waters. And since writing “Hope for the Weary Mom” , I find the weariness trying to hold me under water some days. I’m going back to the beginning and rehearsing what I said in the first place.

    Gonna go share this post like crazy cause I love it.
    Stacey´s last blog post ..The Joy Dare

  12. says

    I love that you continue to unmask these things, even if it involves shots of your laundry piles:) Your encouragement comes at just the right time for me as I have a kernel of something that I have been turning over and over again in my head. I’m held back somewhat by fear, but mostly by being unsure that this kernel is enough take root and grow into a harvest. I think I need to sit with it a while.
    Kimberly´s last blog post ..Rickety bridges and steep slopes

  13. says

    Yup. I’ve been on my blog (I blogged for about a year and a half before but never so vulnerably) for four weeks now and the pattern of revealing that I have felt called to makes me choke around a few men in my life afraid that they will find the crazy button was left on.

    I’ve been taking my wounds and lies out before the Surgeon and He has been assuring me that I need to be focused on the fact that I am “fearfully and wonderfully made” and to stay locked onto His eyes.

    Today’s truth was from a Be Thou My Vision, “Riches I heed not nor man’s empty praise, Thou my inheritance now and always.” Sweet nugget I need to chew on.

    Thanks again for your honesty!!!
    summer´s last blog post ..Freedom from Approval Addiction

  14. says

    So many blogs I follow are published authors: I would so appreciate a book on how to go about writing a book! I think God has given me an idea, but then I think, “Does the world of Christian women really need another book?” But every story is so different and He moves and teaches us all in ways specific to us and I fell like a chicken for the fact that I just keep sitting here, thinking of the idea, not knowing what to do next. But maybe right now that’s all I need to be doing…

    Much to ponder from your post…as usual :)

    Your writing is a blessing and encouragement here as are your photos!
    Emily´s last blog post ..A Praise-filled Heart

  15. Jeannie S says

    Hi Emily,
    You are so cute on your book introduction video! Thanks for being transparent and showing us your laundry room too! I’m going to Lifeway after bible study on Wednesday to get a copy of your book. I’m not sure I’m a “good girl” but I can’t wait to read it!
    Blessings.

  16. says

    Thank you for your book, for your blog, for being YOU! I finished your book on a flight home this past weekend and it was the perfect thing to read (and I mentioned you in my post today!). I love the idea of doing your book with a small group .
    And I have a book in me, but I’m wrestling with God a bit on this subject! His timing is perfect, so I’ll keep trusting Him!
    Becky´s last blog post ..Fear not, for I am with you…

  17. says

    Emily, I am so happy to find your blog. A friend just gave me a copy of your book. I just finished reading chapter 2. I was thrilled to see you reference “Truefaced” as I have not only read that book but attended the “Truefaced Intensive.” I have had the blessing of meeting the men who wrote that book. They are the real deal!

    I am a former good girl learning to live in what is already true about me. On my worst day I am still the righteousness of Christ. I spend my time writing these days (when time allows between working and being a mother to 3 teenagers) at my blog about my journey into grace. Most recently God has awakened me even more to the diligent, striving flesh that seeks to invade my identity. I would love to have you stop by for a visit.

    Great to meet a fellow sojourner!
    Julie´s last blog post ..Refuse Hidden In the Walls©

  18. Gwen says

    Going to buy your book TONIGHT. I’ve been looking for a book for my accountability sister & I to read together.

  19. says

    Emily, I’ve recommended your book to a lot of women, went with women as they purchased it for themselves, and had an interesting experience in Lifeway actually not too long ago pertaining to your book. I was talking to the lady (who was older than me) at the register and there was a different $5 book sale at the time for the book “Not a Fan” and I got to asking her if she had read that book. She said she hadn’t and that she was already behind in reading and had started a new book. I asked her which one and she said it was this book called “Grace for the Good Girl.” I got excited and asked her how she liked it. She said she really did. She then asked me if I had read your book and I said yes..and that it had really been encouraging/inspirational and the author was one I keep up with on her blog, too, and I actually got to meet her one time. Somehow, we got to talking about how I write too and you’d been someone to inspire me as I continue in that endeavor, but the point of the story was that she said that no book had really hit her in that way, just to where you feel like you’re always having to “do” and appear a certain way as a Christian. It seemed like it had been awhile since she had told someone that, and it was cool to see how God is working through your book in that way. I have definitely seen it as I have read it over again. Just wanted to say thanks for your words:).
    Julie´s last blog post ..First the Book

  20. says

    I’ve always been scared to be published because it really is laying yourself out for the world to criticize. It’s like writing a diary and then reading it aloud in front of your church or something. Scary. And yes, you’d think it would darken your reputation, but in truth it promotes you. People like when others are honest and don’t put on face in public. They are themselves wherever they are. I like that. I love that. I want that for me. But I’m scared to death – God help me, I pray.
    Blessings,
    Lexie N.
    Lexie N.´s last blog post ..We’ve been having fun…

  21. says

    oh Emily.
    You are…so vulnerable and real I feel like we’re having coffee and I can’t take notes fast enough.
    Should I tell you I still haven’t signed that silly piece of paper?
    That putting ink to paper has never been so terrifying?
    That NOT putting ink to paper has never been so terrifying?
    But I will. And I am. Tomorrow. Promise. Maybe.
    Who knew?
    Well, perhaps we all knew a little bit inside. That little girl so many years ago who told her dollies she would one day write a book…she knew. But that was before the realities of laundry and toilets that need cleaned and bottoms that need wiped and little cheeks that need squeezed. Now we don’t feel quite so invincible, do we?
    But we are still those little girls…they’re just buried a little deeper.
    jeannett´s last blog post ..Sunday Smiles

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