Some News About Writing a Book
I’m not writing a book.
There, I said it.
It’s okay if you write a book, and I will cheer like crazy with you when you do. I will celebrate as you work hard and get lucky and sign contracts and deposit checks that are way to small for the amount of life you put in to those pages. I will tear up a bit as you mark milestones and I will definitely cry when I hold your baby, the one made up of all of your words, in my hands for the first time.
I’ve felt the pressure to write a book already.
I lurked for years in the blog world, reading and watching and learning. So really, when I joined in last July, when I started speaking up, I already had a two year head start. And I’ve gotten lucky with my editors and readers and champions and the questions are coming in: Are you writing a book? Do you have an agent? Are you going to such and such writing conference to meet so and so?
And it’s tempting to say oh, yes, I’ve had a few ideas, a few contacts, and of course I’m going.
I said a few of those things aloud until I realized that I actually don’t believe them or want them right now. It just feels like what you’re supposed to do when you start a blog and a few people comment and some of the big deals link to your work. It seems like hubris to ignore that goodness or the possibilities or the fact that other people are working so hard to get these contacts.
But I’m stepping back and saying no, I am not writing a book.
In the same way that I will keep critiquing Christian dating advice, the way I use all of the why questions I didn't use up as a child, I will keep questioning the push for book deals. I want to know we say both marriage and singleness are valuable, then still put all our cultural energy into getting-people-married rather than examining the ways we put married life above single life, or what that does to the marriages that already exist in various states of health. And I want to know why you would like me better if I wrote a book instead of just lived out my days, worked hard, wrote a few bits down on a blog, and laughed at your jokes over a big mugs of coffee.
I don’t think that publishing a book would validate all of the personal and spiritual work I’ve done the past three years. It couldn’t possibly capture the movement in my faith right now, the vibrant wildness of this understanding of God I am chasing. I don't think it would get me where I want to go, as I see my direction right now.
I don’t even know if it would help anyone else, or if it would just add to this ringing in my ears from other people trying to offer their take on this life that I am building and discovering and living. I am all for orthodoxy and scholarship, but more books telling me how to live the life and faith that I don’t have time to live because I am trying to read all the books to tell me how to do it faithfully? I cannot write more of those. Those books are keeping us infantile in our fears and distractions, and that's about all I could write right now.
Maybe I’m just reading all the wrong books, but there’s about one per year that actually changes my life. I’m talking about the kind of change that sits with you and soaks into your skin like sun on an almost spring day and makes you hope. Those books are rare for me, and I don't think I could write one.
I’m not writing a book because I can’t think of any book that I could write that I would want to read.
Marriage does not cosmically define anyone who is married, it is a facet of a human who is married. Writing a book does not finally create an artist, it is one aspect of the artistry woven into all of humanity.
I don’t simply want to be married or to simply write a book, I want to live my life.
Did you hear that, Kay Eiffel? I want to live my life.
If it means that my life is committed to one man for 50 odd and wonderful years, then I am in. All in. If it means that my life is maritally solo but surrounded by overwhelming love and friendship and commitment, then I am so excited for this life. If it means that my life is sometimes punctuated by aloneness, then you’d better believe that there is a solo dance party happening in my kitchen right now, because I love the fact that no one is here to complain about the blaring Justin Timberlake. I am invested in every bit.
If it means that I am on the track to write a hilarious bestseller and jet around meeting you? That sounds lovely. But if I just write and Skype with a few of you and work out my own salvation with fear and trembling typing, I'm all in.
And I get that I have the luxury of saying this. Marriage and book deals are not the things I’m pining for in my life right now, so of course they are easy to cast off in search of other adventures. But I think I needed to say my contented, single, unpublishedness aloud, because I don’t think I’m the only one feeling these social pressure.
I may change my mind at any time. I may have an idea and write a post called “Why I Am Writing a Book” and present it next week or in ten years or a hundred years, because they certainly will have figured out immortality by then.
But right now, my life is enough. Starting Graduate School in the fall is enough. Speaking at the Sacred Friendships Gathering is enough. (Are you registered for that yet?) This blog and Prodigal Magazine and Twitter and Sunday G+ chats and the college students I work with and friends who listen to my wild ideas and still commit to me are all enough.
Maybe I’ll write a book someday. But not today.
Today I am standing at my kitchen sink, feeling the spring chill through my open window, the hot soapy water chipping off my nail polish, and I am washing dishes.
Because this is my life. And I am living it.