Remember when I told y’all last week that I was going to have a lot of words on Monday?
Well, I am here to make good on that promise. But consider yourselves warned. This post is gonna be a marathon, not a sprint. You might want to grab a protein bar and some almonds.
And please – I beg of you – fill up your water bottles. It’s critical that you stay well-hydrated.
Back in May I told y’all that I’d had an idea for an e-book and was hoping to finish the first draft sometime in July. In retrospect the finish-first-draft-by-July idea was a whole bunch of wishful thinking on my part. I worked like crazy on the e-book in June, but the more I worked on it, the more two particular things became blindingly clear: 1) I can get very distracted by the technical side of things (formatting, reading up on e-book publishing, etc.) and waste lots of valuable time that could be better spent writing. And 2) editing a book chapter is a vastly different exercise than editing a blog post. Because for me, at least, editing a chapter NEVER, EVER ENDS.
By the time August rolled around, I had a pretty good rough outline in place, and I’d finished several chapters, but I felt stuck. I didn’t know if what I’d written up to that point was any good, or if I was heading in the right direction, or if the stories I was telling felt connected, or if I should just walk out in the middle of the street and throw my laptop on the ground and then run over it several times with my car. I decided that it was probably best to take a little break, clear my head, and re-visit the e-book in early fall.
As it turned out, my break from the e-book coincided with the time that Melanie’s book proposal was going out to publishers. Since I’ve always assumed that no one would ever want to publish anything I wrote (it has always seemed unlikely to me that a publisher would take a chance on someone whose idea of quality blog material is an in-depth look at the latest flavor of Cheez-Its), I had never investigated the specifics of getting a book published. Maybe that’s one reason why it was fascinating to watch Melanie walk through it. I asked her approximately 489 questions about how everything worked, but it wasn’t because I thought I would ever be doing such a thing myself. It was because I am nosy. Now you know.
Mel and I emceed .MOM not too long after she signed her book contract, and while we were there, I met a couple of really nice book editors who work at publishing houses. After I had a very eye-opening conversation with one of them (I told her my idea for the temporarily-on-hold e-book, and she did not in fact point and laugh maniacally), I walked straight to Melanie’s hotel room and spent the next 30 minutes uttering some variation of What does it mean? What does it all mean? Do you think this means I’m supposed to write a book-book instead of an e-book? WHAT DOES IT MEEEEEEAAAAAAN?!?!? Melanie never really answered me, though, because she was too busy rolling her eyes and banging her forehead against the fauxhogany desk.
Sometimes I can be a little high-maintenance when it comes to decision making.
In all seriousness, Melanie gave me some great advice that morning, and for the first time in my whole life ever, I started to give some real consideration to the book thing. I spent most of the next week mumbling to myself while I walked around the house and weighed my options and shrugged my shoulders, and when I couldn’t seem to figure out what to do next, I emailed Mel’s agent to see if he might be willing to talk to me, mainly to help me sort through all the book-related crazy in my head.
Just to be clear: I was still about 86% sure that I was never going to write a book. And I was certain that if I could just talk it out and listen to the wise counsel of a professional, we’d determine in a matter of minutes that the possibility of my e-book idea getting published traditionally was TOTAL NONSENSE, at which point I’d be able to return to my normal routine of mumbling to myself about really important things like my hair and why a second season of Revenge might be hard to pull off and is it normal that I still remember all the lyrics to the songs on Hee Haw and oh sweet mercy is there a switch I can flip to make my hormones SIMMER DOWN, ALREADY?
I talked to Mel’s agent, Bill Jensen, the day after my birthday, and much to my surprise, he liked my e-book idea and thought that some publishers might like it, too. I told him that I had a huge mental block about writing a proposal because, well, FIERY FIREBALLS OF DEATH, but he assured me that I could do it. I told him that another reason I’d been reluctant to pursue the book thing was because the thought of having to promote something makes me want to claw out my eyeballs with a spork, and he totally understood. We also talked a good bit about our favorite Bible translations as well as the lost art of Sunday dinner, but that’s neither here nor there, really. By the end of our conversation we’d agreed to start working on the proposal and just see where it might lead.
Easy-breezy. Kicky, even.
For the next few weeks I worked on that proposal every single night, and I am happy to report that it did not in fact kill me (you can imagine my relief). I actually loved working on it; I found it strangely fun to try to wrap my brain around what the different chapters might turn out to be at some point down the road. It didn’t take nearly as long to finish the proposal as I thought it would, and before I knew it, all I had left to do was to sit back and wait to see if any publishers were interested. That was at the end of November. And a little over a month ago, in what was surely the most surreal moment of my life, I very happily accepted an offer from Tyndale to write my very first book. I mean, my word. Who in the sam hill would’ve thunk it?
The manuscript is due July 1st, which means that I have about four and a half months to write like crazy and decide it’s all garbage and then write like crazy some more and then run to the corner of my bedroom and hold my knees and rock back and forth and wonder WHAT? WHAT HAVE I DONE? WHY DID I THINK I COULD DO THIS? WHAT HAVE I DONNNNNNNNNNNNNNNE? After all, it’s not every day that I commit to writing an exegetical commentary on the book of Obadiah.
Oh, you didn’t fall for that, did you? YOU KNOW ME BETTER THAN THAT, INTERNET.
The book – and we’re about 98% settled on a title, but I can’t blog about that part yet – is going to be a non-fiction collection of Southern stories about family, friends, food and faith. My hope is that it will be a funny, cheerful, encouraging reminder of how God does some of His very best work in and through the people He so graciously puts in our lives. I’m beyond grateful to my family and friends who have given me permission to tell their stories, and I’m so honored to be able to share those stories with the 14 to 22 people who might read my book. As always, I am dreaming big.
And finally, I just want to say this: I wish there was some way that I could adequately express how profoundly thankful I am for all of you. The fact that you stop by here and read what I write will forever be a wonder to me. Without y’all, it would’ve never occurred to me to write an e-book or traditional book or matchbook or phone book – there would be zero books of any kind on the horizon. Y’all bless me every single day with your comments and emails, and I am forever indebted to you for that. From the deepest part of my heart, thank you so much.
You’re the best bloggy people in the whole wide world.