I’m joining the synchroblog today for the release of the new book Inciting Incidents by sharing a story about one event in my life (positive or negative) that pushed my story (mission, vision, passion) forward:
The e-mail I dreaded arrived during the first day of vacation.
The timing could not have been worse for so many reasons, the LEAST being that I’d just started writing full time and needed the second half of my advance.
I should have known the e-mail was coming. How did I not see it coming?
My publicist was the first to go.
The line of books I’d been writing for was then quietly tucked away.
The editor who acquired my book was next.
Then the e-mail arrived.
I had written my second book with the hope of adopting a unique chapter structure. I tried to blend some pop culture references with my observations.
I wanted to create something unique and a tad edgy.
The new editor wrote: The entire first draft needed to be rewritten.
For starters, he didn’t like my style. The book wasn’t written like, well, a book.
If he’d been in charge of acquisitions, this book would never have reached his desk for sure.
There was a bigger problem. My publisher had become more conservative since my last book. The new editor took issue with several of my beliefs as stated in the book .
None of them were shocking for an evangelical, but they weren’t in line with his particular camp in the evangelical fold.
I was willing to work on my writing style in the book.
I could handle a full rewrite, even if it was the very thing I’d been dreading.
I nevertheless had to draw the line with my theology.
You always read about someone having to take a stand on principle when a good bit of money is on the line, but you never imagine that you’ll actually be in THAT situation one day.
I could soften my 20-something angst in some places where it had gone too far, but I couldn’t delete the parts of the book that my editor found objectionable.
I knew what I had to do, but I took three agonizing days to think things over. I needed to make sure I was ready to risk losing that income, the promise of a second book, and my relationship with that publisher.
I had just taken a shaky step toward becoming a writer—a calling that I had a hard time embracing at first. Now, fresh out of the gate, my biggest project was falling down in flames.
Would my career recover?
Would I find another publisher to work with me?
A thousand negative thoughts flooded my mind. Writers don’t need much prompting to doubt themselves.
I had to both preserve the integrity of who I am as a writer and take a leap into writing full time without a book deal that I’d been really counting on.
In the days that followed, my agent negotiated an agreement to end the project.
Had I written a bad book or did I just catch the wrong editor?
Did I have another book in me?
The doubts kept creeping in.
I didn’t have the solid book deal I’d been banking on. I didn’t have the money we needed. It was a frightening time.
In retrospect I can see that the book deal and the money it promised were short term gains that put into jeopardy my ability to write honestly for the long term.
I had to write based on my convictions and on what God had revealed to me. It took a few years to bounce back from that single e-mail. Some days that depresses me a little, but on days like today, it seems like a small price to pay in order to force me to nail down what I truly believe as a writer.
About This Post
This post is part of a group blogging project celebrating the release of Inciting Incidents (Moody Press), a book featuring the stories of six creatives who share honestly about surviving life’s difficulties while attempting to do great things. You can visit the "Share Your Story" section of IncitingIncidents.Org to check out posts from other synchroblog contributors, or visit the sites of the authors: Sarah Cunningham, Jeff Goins, Dave Hickman, Blaine Hogan, Tracee Persiko, Stephanie Smith, Mandy Thompson and David Wenzel. In addition, you can hear more about the project in this NPR-style interview series by Moody Radio.
Also, if you pick up the book in the first two weeks, Moody will give you a bundle of free resources, including two full-length e-books. The book is available immediately at Amazon, Barnes and Noble or Christian Book.