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.)
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.