I didn’t need a hundred to write a book. Stories are my native language, which is basically to say I read a lot as a kid. A lot. And when I wasn’t reading, I played story – with a Barbie, a My Little Pony, a friend.
I can’t read as much now (I fall asleep too fast), but that’s okay because I tell myself stories. I tell myself stories as I fold the laundry. If I seem eerily calm while my boys make like bears, it’s because I’m telling myself a story. When a new song plays on the radio, I tell myself a story about it (which makes for some interesting stories, let me tell you).
I think in story. So no – I didn’t need a hundred reasons to write one. It’s more like I was Violet Beauregarde (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) by the time I finally sat down to do it … Violet after she chewed the three-course gum. My choices were two: write the story that had been swelling in me for 10 years or pop a blueberry mess all over the place.
I don’t like cleaning; I wrote the book.
But what to do after The End? I had no clue, and so I fasted. I’d never done it, but I was at a crossroads and really didn’t want to take the wrong way. I set aside food and time for a week, and I was convinced that God would return my desire for direction with specificity, including the next step to take, optimal timelines, and contact information for the key people who would help me along.
Here’s what I received:
Nothing that happens will change who you are in me, and everything that happens will be in keeping with who you are in me.
Does this make sense to you? That must mean you think in riddle. But I think in story – the simple ones (sorry James Joyce). So I set aside this puzzling directive to go the way of prevailing wisdom instead: get an agent who would get me a publishing contract. This process required me to account for all sorts of information, like what my book is about, who would want to read it, how I would get it in their hands, and why this would result in a large windfall for all of us. Over the next couple of months I researched my answers, and by last fall, I’d drafted a persuasive case to send to a couple dozen agents … just as soon as I gave it one last read.
The proposal read well. It read sharp. And it didn’t read at all like me. And that great market opportunity I’d argued? Compelling, but all of the reasons I gave for my book’s sale had nothing to do with why I wrote it or why I wanted to share it.
Enter my 100. Not my 100 for why I wanted to write it (remember: violet, blueberry mess all around), but for why I wanted it to go beyond me.
Our hundreds aren’t for sharing. If we knew others would see them, we’d conveniently leave out anything circumspect, right? I remember feeling embarrassed when I wrote down some of my reasons. They still embarrass me to read them. But others surprise me as much now as they did then.
I want to share my book because …
I like the risk of it.
The dream of it.
I’m not interested in what’s safe, not really.
I’m not sharing to validate.
I validated every morning I put my butt in that seat.
But sharing my book answers some important questions for me.
Can I do something that scares me?
What can God do through me?
My list went to 100, and ultimately, it got me back to what God had told me in the first place: Nothing that happens will change who you are in me, and everything that happens will be in keeping with who you are in me.
And so I let that proposal be and decided to self-publish. Make no mistake: I’m not a writing philanthropy. I want my book in as many hands as possible. I want to sell them. I want to make a living from writing. And I’d eventually like an agent and a publisher, but not if they muddy my honest approach to that girl. And until I’m convinced, it’s on me.
My decision to self-publish cut out the promise of national distribution. I’ve now signed up for a one-woman sales’ game, a piling my books in the trunk of my car game. The book’s reach is now a word-of-mouth game. But it’s a true game. For me, anyway. That’s the beauty of divergence – it gets you to the honesty that’s there, but sometimes at the fringe. It might even take you more than a hundred to find it, but if you take the time before you take the step, that next step will come from the true place of why you are where you are, why you do what you do, and why you want what you want.
“Won’t you wonder if someone would have picked you up?” a good friend asked me after I shared the self-publishing news.
“No.” My answer was immediate. Even more immediate was the release I felt at her question.
“But I would have wondered what would have happened if I’d done it myself.”