Why I’m Not Blogging

So many of you have probably noticed that I have been posting less frequently than usual.  Part of the explanation for this is that I am pretty busy with helping the church and raising four little kids, as you all know.  But as you also all know, whenever someone says they are “pretty busy”, this is usually not the entire truth.  There’s always more going on there.  So allow me a moment to give you the fuller story of why I find it hard to blog right now:

About this time last year, I began pondering the idea of publishing a memoir of my family’s experiences in 2009 – 2010, you know: cancer, church planting, pregnancy, miracles, all that stuff.  And to my great surprise, even before I had put any real effort into the endeavor, a major Christian publisher was interested.  So I wrote a few chapters, put together a slapdash book proposal and submitted it.  And it got pretty far into the review process before it was rejected on the basis that I didn’t have enough “platform” to sell the book.

I was disappointed, but at the same time, I knew that I had not really put my best effort into the attempt, and so recommitted myself to getting published for real.  This blog was a big part of that process.  I started blogging regularly, and redesigned the page, with the hope of expanding my readership and sharpening my voice as a writer.  I completed a full manuscript, a total of 50,000 words.  And I got published in my first magazine, a little piece in Relevant Magazine.  I thought to myself, “If I almost got published with no effort, surely this is enough to get the job done!”  But it wasn’t – my proposal was again rejected by the publisher, for the same reason: not enough platform.

This was disappointing, but I gritted my teeth and redoubled my efforts at getting published.  I started blogging even more, and on more controversial topics like race and parenting.  Instead of dealing with just one editor, I contacted over twenty publishers, basically anyone who would consider an unsolicited submission.  I expanded my efforts to get published in magazines, and got my writings in Church Leaders, Prodigal Magazine, Relevant Magazine, Christianity Today (coming in 2013) and the Covenant Companion.  One of these pieces even went viral after it was picked up by Hacker News, a very influential news aggregator.  My proposal doubled in length, and was filled with endorsements from semi-famous people, and statistics as to why publishing this book was a safe financial bet.

And then, the Holy Grail: a feature article in the Washington Post about being a Korean-American pastor in a African-American neighborhood of DC.  And best of all, the article did not portray me as a racist or an idiot.  With this, I thought I had everything I needed to get published – I was a well published writer who had been featured in a major national newspaper, and had a complete manuscript detailing how God miraculously saved my wife and family from a terrible set of circumstances.  This would surely be enough to get published.  I submitted my vastly improved proposal to some of the biggest names in Christian publishing, and got serious consideration.

But it was again rejected.

I was again disappointed.  But this time, the disappointment appears to be sticking.  I know that I have only been at this for a year, and have gotten pretty darn far in that year, I’ll admit that.  But I don’t know what else to do – do I need to get featured in the NY Times?  Get published in the same Christian publications…again?  Blog twice as often, and on topics that are even more attention-grabbing?  I don’t know if I can do that, or even want to do that.  Friends and editors have suggested that because memoirs are so common, I completely rework the book into a self-help guide instead.  I can’t manage to muster any enthusiasm for that idea either.  I had one story in me to tell, and that was how God saved my wife from triple negative breast cancer while pregnant.  I don’t have the motivation, nor the authority, to write a theological book on why God allows suffering.

So because publishing seems to be out of my reach, I have lost a lot of my motivation for writing.  This lack of motivation is so severe that I frankly find it hard to write at all.  Even the paragraphs above feel stilted and strange to me, like I’ve never written anything before.  I’m hoping that this is just temporary, and I’ll soon get over my disappointment enough to recommit myself to writing, but I don’t know.  I guess I just don’t know what the point is anymore… But please don’t take this too far – everything in my life is actually going very well! My bitter disappointment is limited to my lack of progress in getting the book published.

Anyway, that’s my update.  I would actually really love to know your thoughts, as I think they would help me process things and plan some steps forward.  So please leave a response, if you feel so inclined – thank you!!

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28 thoughts on “Why I’m Not Blogging

  1. bro – thx for sharing your journey. Sorry to hear about the cul de sacs, that stuff sucks. yet I’m hoping that the writing process has not bee in vain – though we might not see anything til later. Praying with you, man.

    1. thanks man. it’s been an interesting journey. hardest part is feeling like God wants you to do something, and then being confronted by a bunch of closed doors. hard to make sense of that…

  2. Peter – I understand your discouragement – I really do! First off, I love your blogs. Do not give up. I even think this blog was a great one, as bleak as it started… you have followers for a reason.

    I challenge you with this: blog with the thought of a means to an end, not an end to a means. Blog with the intention of having less of an intent. Enjoy the fruit of your labor – expounding on critical themes like the obstacles your family went through, racism, your family’s experience in the city. Maybe embrace writing less frequently so that you can write about something drives, compels, angers, or moves you. Your blog may just be a means to your book getting published, but do see it as that – a means. Not an end.

    God’s timing is perfect. Trust in Him and have faith, despite your circumstances in the current moment. The breakthroughs you saw as a writer were no coincidence.

  3. Pastor, love the piece. I’ve learned that disappointment and God’s plan often go hand in hand. Not because God’s plans are disappointing, but because the path that God takes us to accomplish His purpose is usually not one that we would have envisioned. So the disappointment is in our expectations of the journey not being met. The good thing is that they are usually temporary, if we fail not.

    I believe that your story has to be told! And if God has led you down this path, then hold onto HIs hand a little tighter and let Him lead you to the publishing of your memoirs. Keep writing, not motivated as to whether publishers will respond in the manner you would like, but because God is ultimately in control of it all anyway.

    1. patrick, there are times where i think i should call YOU pastor, instead of the other way around…

  4. “Amen” to what Patrick said! God bless you. I’m no expert, but “disappointment” had been my middle name for years. Hang in there!

  5. Peter, if there were a list of things that I am truly not gifted at, writing would rank at the top next to dancing. When I read your blog, I wish that I could write the way you write. I always blame my poor writing skills on the fact that my parents’s command of the English language was so poor. Well I would hazard a guess that your folks speak english about as well as mine. So my excuse does not pass muster, unfortunately… Keep writing and I will keep reading!

    1. hahaha, eric, your comments always crack me up. they always start tangentially, and then end up right where they should be! thanks man…

  6. hi peter, we don’t know each other, but i want to let you know that your blogs have been a great encouragement to me. your candor and thoughtfulness testify so much to the reality of God and what it truly looks like to follow Him that i have been able to commend your posts to those who would otherwise dismiss or question christianity. thank you for sharing your thoughts and life, and in that way impacting the way we think about faith and life. thank you for drawing people closer to God through this venue- this kind of work reaps eternal rewards.

    1. wow, thank you. the fact that you would be willing to share my posts with a non-Believer might be just about the highest praise i could receive!

  7. Peter, thank you for your honesty and conviction. I know it may sound trite to say everything will work out for the best, but i have every faith the words you share are meaningful and that is reason enough to keep writing. I love your blog!

    1. thank you lizzie – you’re right, words are meaningful, and that is reason enough to write (whether some fancy publisher recognizes it or not!)

  8. I first subscribed to your blog when I believe you said your wife was diagnosed with lymphoma or leukemia.??? It’s been a while ago. My husband has lympoma/leukemia and we are both very active in church. I wanted to share some words of encouragment with you about God’s healing power, but never made the time as we have three children aged six and under. 🙂 I am the children’s minister at a nondenominational church. He is the IT guy. Now I find that we have another common link; writing. Please let me share a word of encouragement with you. I have it posted inside my kitchen cupboard door:

    “Perseverance” by Mac Hammond
    Perseverance is all too rare a commodity these days. Theodore Giesel’s first children’s book was rejected by twenty-three publishers. The 24th publisher sold six million copies. Years later, “Dr. Seuss” died knowing his perseverance resulted in entertaining and educating millions of children.

    The value of perseverance is highlighted in many places in the Bible. For example, Galatians 6:9 says, “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” Persistence is a vital quality for leaders today. My question for you is , “Are you being tempted to quit where you need to persevere?”

    That’s the end of the little devotional. Keep up the good work. God has given you a gift. You are his handiwork. Ephesians 2:10 He will also create opportunities in which you can use that gift. He has created good works for you to step into…just keep the faith.

    In Christ Jesus,
    Julie

    1. wow, thank you so much julie. this is a good reminder, and strangely enough, i’m preaching a sermon tomorrow about the persistence of the syrophonecian woman! maybe God is trying to tell me something… i wonder what it is?

      1. Yes! You might enjoy looking into Mac Hammond. He is a pastor of a church in Minneapolis…I think? He has some very inspiring stuff to read.

  9. Peter, thanks for sharing from the soft spots of your heart, your story is similar to what I read of other writers who’ve shared their tories of frustration and rejection. What I recently heard on a podcast with Jeff Goins was insightful: that writers don’t write to get published, writers write to write.

    And what I’m discovering, and it’s taken me over 20 years to get here, is that what I think God is calling me to do, may not ever actually become my career or vocation. When prominent preachersq and authors say that God will make a provision for the vision, that sounds good, it’s catchy, but it isn’t always true. Yes, God is provider. Yet, what He calls me to do doesn’t necessarily meant I’m going to get paid, or published, to do that. And, for me, that is okay.

    1. thanks dj, i always appreciate your insight. i guess i never really saw myself as a pure writer, but just as someone who had one story to tell. i’m trying to make the transition to the former, and it’s a bigger jump than i thought. but at the same time, it’s kind of liberating to write for writing sake. just got to keep at it!

  10. Pastor Chin,

    You are indeed a gifted writer, and I can’t imagine how frustrating it is to be told “Your story is great, but it won’t sell well enough to publish it.” It must make it seem like the manifest power of God in your life is being made subject to the Almighty Dollar.

    But I assure you that God is already speaking through you in a mighty way in your preaching at Peace church. I’ve been in churches (many of them) my whole life, and your preaching is some of the most articulate and soul-penetrating stuff I’ve ever heard sitting in a church pew.

    So, although it would indeed be an honor for you to get published, I think the message of your life and your gift for communicating are already sowing the seed of the Word among us who have the privilege of being under your humble and Biblical preaching and leadership. You are honoring God with your gifts, even if it is not the way you thought you would be doing so.

    By any measure, you are investing the Master’s talents well!

    Jay Trovato

    1. wow, jay. this is really high praise, and i am very encouraged to know that God is using me, although in a different forum than i had imagined myself being in. thanks for this brother!!

  11. Pastor Peter,

    I’m not trying to stroke your ego. But I think you’re a really special writer —you always provide a fresh new God-centered perspective on things and I find myself sharpened after reading your blog. So please keep writing. It’ll be neat to see what God’s got in store after all these failed attempts — i’d like to think something really grand. 🙂

    1. thank you, that’s really encouraging! okay, i’m back on the horse…just need to get back in the groove!

  12. Your story may not have been published in a book but your recent post celebrating your sons 3rd birthday came up on my facebook wall over here in Australia… and I’ve now been working my way backwards through your posts 🙂 It’s so encouraging to see God at work in and through you. Be encouraged! 🙂

    1. thank you so much, i really appreciate the encouragement! wow, i wrote this post a long time ago, after i got rejected by a publisher…clearly, things have not changed much since then!!

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