It’s been a crazy few weeks. But this is my current location. And I’m trying to relax.
Trying being the operative word.
All the excitement and anticipation leading up to the release of The Things We Knew, has simmered down. Now it’s out there, and I’m busy with promoting and working on other projects and doing life, all the while trying to stay sane. Because although it isn’t my first book release, it kind of feels that way.
I think maybe, to me at least, this one matters more. Maybe it’s because it took so many years to get published. Maybe it’s because we worked on it for such a long time. Maybe it’s because I’m so grateful for the people who were willing to invest their time, effort and a bit of their heart to push this baby toward publication. And dang if we didn’t do it.
Funny thing is, I thought that was the hard part. Getting to this.
But what do I know? Not much, apparently. Because the hard part? That’s only just beginning. The hard part is letting your baby go out into the world and being completely unprepared for the reception it will get. Completely unprepared for the critics. Okay, not completely unprepared. But perhaps a little blindsided.
I haven’t been here before in quite this way. More people have access to this book than any of my previous ones. It’s in actual bookstores – freaking Barnes & Noble for crying out loud – and if that doesn’t make this whole whacked and wild dream real, I don’t know what does. It’s different this time because there’s advertising and reviews that kind of matter and my book is probably popping up more places than I know about. It’s different this time because now?
Now I really need to know who I am as an author and what that means for the books I write.
Now I need to own this.
As people are discovering who I am and what I write, I’m learning to live with the fact that not everyone will like me.
Okay, so there it is. Yes, I’ve been reading the reviews. No, it’s probably not a smart thing to do. But I was always the kid who crept a little closer to the flame when nobody was looking and stuck my finger out anyway, just to see if it really would burn. Not much has changed. Flames still burn.
But here’s the thing. This is my book. My story. My heart. And I’ve offered it not for the glory, not for the fun of seeing my name on the cover, not for any fame or fortune (cue raucous laughter), I’ve offered it because I feel like I have something to say. Like maybe I can offer a hurting world a little hope.
It sounds so simple. But that’s the truth. That’s why I write. That’s why I long to share my stories. And yes, that makes me vulnerable. Because it’s not easy putting yourself out there. Sharing your heart. Actually, it’s probably one of the hardest things in the world.
And honestly? This journey cost me. Emotionally. Spiritually. Physically even, because it’s easy to get stressed and overwhelmed and not take time to treat yourself well. But was all that worth it? Absolutely. This is my victory. My reward.
I need to own that.
I need to stop cringing when I read words that try to tear down and belittle. People are not kind, but I knew that. It shouldn’t surprise me. I need to stop apologizing in my head and feeling bad when I hear that what I’ve offered wasn’t what a particular reader expected or wanted. I need to realize that I’m never ever going to please everybody.
I need to own who I am and what I write and not worry about how it is received.
This is my lesson, and maybe it’s been slow in coming, but I better get it down now or I’m not going to survive this game.
Yes, I am a Christian. I write for a Christian publisher. But I’m not your pastor. Not your Bible or your Sunday School.
I am a broken person put together by grace and mercy and forgiveness and I write about broken people in need of grace and mercy and forgiveness.
If you want to chew on Scripture and platitudes and everybody gets saved at the end stories, then I’m probably not the author for you. And that’s fine.
God is big enough for all of us in all our brokenness.
Grace come quiet, simply, unobtrusively. It comes when we need it most. When we least expect it. When we don’t deserve it. And sometimes when we don’t even know we need it. But there it is.
If you want to find a little faith – that quiet steadfast heartbeat of the only one thing in this crazy world that will carry you through – I believe it is there in the pages of the books I write. Because that’s how they were written. By faith. Through struggles and doubts, carried on the wind of grace. God is very much present in every word I write. How could He not be?
Maybe that message of hope and healing might look a little different to you and yeah, you might not like it that way.
I’m not going to please everybody.
I don’t need to.
Today, I make my peace with this.
My words are written for a higher purpose. And I will continue to write them in the way I feel led, without worrying about rejection or craving acceptance or seeking any glory that really doesn’t belong to me anyway.
I will write for the sheer joy of knowing that I can. Knowing that this is my gift and it pleases Him. And that truth? That’s all that matters in the end.
And today, I will own that.