Everyone has been so supportive of my decision to write a book that I feel obligated to give progress reports, in order to justify everyone’s faith in me. “Please know that your support is not in vain!”, that kind of thing. So let me update you on how things have been going on the professional writing front:
– First, the blog. Back six months ago or so, when I would post once a week or less, the blog would get around 300 view a month. Not that I really cared back then. But now, it gets over 3000 views per month, which is a modest improvement of a factor of TEN. So thank you to everyone who has been faithfully reading and sharing the blog – please keep it up! The more people who visit the site, the easier it will be to convince a publisher that there is an audience who will read a book, which is the biggest factor behind getting published. I’ve been told that it’s more important than the quality of writing, unfortunately. I guess that makes sense, given the yahoos who get published out there (not to mention the utter riffraff who are trying to get published. Wait a minute…).
– Second, I submitted a short article to RELEVANT magazine, which got picked up! This is a good opportunity since RELEVANT is a well-known and high quality Christian publication, which will give me more weight with publishers. And who knows, maybe a publisher will read the piece and be interested in the story. Anyway, check it out at THIS LINK, and make sure to share it with friends via the comment section to the left of the article.
– Third, the book itself. I’ve been working on it 8 hours a day – I’m not kidding. I’ve finished close to 40,000 words, and still have a few chapters left. In other words, even though I’m unemployed, I’m working HARD!! Maybe harder than when I was employed…
But on a more personal note, it has been deeply moving to recall in detail everything that my family experienced…and also deeply encouraging. Nothing makes you realize how good you’ve got it like remembering how bad you used to have it. I look at my wife with rediscovered love and affection, and my children as well. Because of this, writing this book has been immensely encouraging, but even more – cathartic. I am very glad I am doing this, regardless if I get published or not. And I wanted to briefly share something that I have realized through this process:
If you didn’t know, five months ago I was talking with an editor who was interested in publishing the book, an experience that I describe in this entry. This was a very exciting prospect for me, but it fell through at the last minute, which was the cause of some minor, piddling disappointment on my end. If I remember correctly, I think I lay down on the floor for a few hours and kicked my feet and cried or something. I just couldn’t figure out why God couldn’t just cut me a break and allow this book get published. It made no sense.
HADN’T I SUFFERED ENOUGH???
**puny fist shake to the heavens**
Despite this setback, I kept working on my memoir, not so much because I had bravely shaken off the disappointment, but more because my memories of the past two years were getting really foggy, and I wanted to get them down on paper (meaning, Microsoft Word) before they faded completely. But as I wrote, I began to realize something – my memoir kind of sucked. Sure, the story itself was riveting, and I managed to throw in a few insights here and there. But it lacked direction, and a central theme, something to tie the beginning of the story to the middle and to the end. It was not cohesive, and not compelling, at least in my eyes. It was definitely not the best I could do, and wasn’t doing the story (or God) justice.
So I took some time to map out the events of 2009 and 2010 on a gigantic whiteboard, trying to discern the larger things that God had accomplished during that time. And through that process, I became aware of a central idea or theme. That year, what God did was that He destroyed my flimsy and juvenile understanding of Him, one informed more by the American dream than the gospel, and replaced it with a conception that was far better, stronger…truthier even. And so, using this new theme, I began to rewrite much of what I had written earlier for that publisher, and I have to say, without exaggeration…this is the best book ever written. I really like what I am writing now, and feel good about it, really good about it. I have a lot more confidence in the book, and am excited to get it out there once it’s done. For those of you who know me, which means my wife, you know that I rarely say things with such confidence. I usually am a lot more circumspect.
But not this time, cuz I’m feeling it! SHOW ME THE MONEY!!
That’s enough of that.
But what I really wanted to point out is that these improvements were the direct result of a setback. When I was told the book was not going to be published, I was pretty dejected. It didn’t seem like there could be any redeeming value from that experience, that all my work had just been a big waste of time. But nothing is wasted in God’s economy. You see, had the book been published back in September, in that form, I ultimately would not have been happy with it. Sure, it would have sold and people would have patted me on the back, but deep in my heart of hearts, I would always know that this was not my best, that the book could have been so much more, and so much better. But instead, because of that disappointment, because of that setback, I have a memoir that is much stronger. I have gotten a short essay published in a good magazine. I have a stronger following with the blog, full of rabid readers who are ready to spam their friends when the book comes out. In short, I am in a much better position to get it published, and it will be a much better book.
All because it had been rejected first.
I know I’m not the only one who has experienced this, some major setback that didn’t seem to have any greater purpose or meaning. Just a waste of time, days, weeks, years, all for nothing. But it wasn’t for nothing. Because God has a wonderful and mysterious way of taking things that seem to be nothing but a curse (like the cross), and transforming them into a immense blessings (like the resurrection)! It’s what He’s best at, so don’t despair – wait, pray, and rejoice!
Give Him time to do what He does.