Writing a book is hard work.
Everyone knows that. But what most people don’t realize is that it’s also a skill.
And if that’s true, it can be learned.
That’s why I love teaching my story course. You have to admit, the fact that it’s so easy to email a lesson, show how to apply it, and then evaluate what someone sends back, is pretty cool. What other artistic talent can be so easily developed? We live in a great time.
Of course, writing well isn’t easy or everyone would be doing it. But I believe everyone should be doing it because we all have a story and it matters to tell it in the most compelling and truth-honoring way. It’s not as hard as performing a symphony from memory or painting a Vermeer or even being on So You Think You Can Dance? And if success isn’t some unrealistic American Idol pipe-dream but writing a book you can be proud of, a book you can hand people and know it’s what you wanted to say, anyone can learn to do that.
But just like any challenge worth taking, the best part is what you learn about yourself while building your writing muscles, so to speak.
I’ve been editing books and speaking at conferences for a while, but I’m not a star. I haven’t published my magnum opus. I’m not interested in being a celebrity or getting on the publishing treadmill. Mainly because I don’t relish the end game–I don’t enjoy writing to a deadline or doing it for money or touring or speaking to big groups of people. And I figure until I’m not a young dad anymore, I’d just as soon use my training to train and edit others’ work. That’s just me.
Maybe I’m fooling myself and I couldn’t hack it. It’s completely possible. Maybe I’m running away from my calling or telling God no, like Jonah. Maybe I’m scared. I’m sure it looks like it to many people.
I’ve never enjoyed attention, actually. When the people I love are happy and interested in me, I love it like anyone does. But I’m a big introvert and always have been. And being the center of any attention feels like death. I’d rather jump out of an airplane or try wrestling a black bear. And with any luck, I’ll never have to feel that pressure.
The path for any Christian author is fraught with difficulty. Writing the book and editing it. That’s the easy part. If you do it well, you can expect to have to continually reject the accolades, esteem and status people try to thrust at you, similar to how Christians do it to pastors and other Christian celebrities. It’s a verifiable fact. I can’t manage my anger and disappointment about that yet. So I’m staying out.
That’s more than you needed to know, I’m sure. But when the question about publishing was posed by someone last week, I had to wonder if my slowness on my novel is related to my loathing of the possibility of public scrutiny. I’ve considered it before, but I have to reluctantly acknowledge that’s been a factor. I do fear success, almost as much as I fear failure. And with all I’ve written about facing fear and overcoming it in the power of trusting God and knowing his love, this is humbling. (Seriously, I’ve been blogging since 2004. It’s a lot.)
But I don’t deny that I can write. And I don’t hesitate to teach it every chance I get. And if there’s a way out of fear, I know it’s no single solution but a collection of God-honoring strategies–prayer, writing and facing fear in community being chief among them. Fact is, I see writing as prayer, and both are life-giving and affirming. And I’ve seen amazing progress in this journey already, so I’m keeping on until God says I’m free and clear to publish. (and technically, I am published.)
But until then, I’ll continue enjoying where I am, smelling the flowers and looking for more brave souls ready to face the truth about themselves and shine a light for others to see their own stories a little better…
If you’re on the fence about committing to your story, I hope you’ll jump with me. The Story Course starts May 1.