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!!