In June of 2014, I began writing a book I called “Landmark”.
I’d always had a dream to write and publish my first book before I was 30 (more on that later) and I decided that summer was the time to knock it out. I started just throwing up words on the page, and created a rough outline and vague direction. This book would be about building a personal history with God, and mostly featured my own personal God-Stories with some scripture sprinkled in.
In September, I got a random email from a well known publishing house that they were running a contest looking for new Christian non-fiction authors. Great timing, this was surely my big break! I carefully read the fine print to ensure that if I lost the contest my work would remain my own intellectual property. Yep! Green light officially LIT & I decided to go for it!
I called my friend Jared who I knew was an incredible editor and ran his own publishing company, and asked if he would help fine tune my manuscript. He said yes, and agreed to edit my book for basically a Snickers bar and a 20% coupon for Bed Bath and Beyond. Okay not literally, but in the end I pretty much paid him pennies.
The deadline for the contest was November 31. I knew that my book was about 60% of the way to where I wanted it, and I determined at this point in September that I could finish it and submit it in time. I also determined that even if it didn’t win, I would work with my friend Jared to eventually publish it anyway, on my own.
I hustled, and got about 25,000 words written in those 90 days. Only 20,000 of those were actually good words, but I felt like the overall manuscript was pretty solid. Jared did a quick yet excellent edit, and *click*, I submitted the work.
I put it in the back of my mind and nearly forgot about it. We had just had a baby, so it was easy to put the project on the back burner for the time being. In January, I got a nice email from the publishers that I didn’t win, even as a runner up, but I was more than welcome to continue the self-publishing process for a small consulting fee and by choosing a publishing package from $3,000 – $5,000.
Okay, oh well. I knew I was going to publish it anyway through Jared, so I dove back in to the manuscript and added some more quality chapters.
Then I got frustrated and felt like something wasn’t clicking.
Those of you that know me, you know what I do when I get frustrated with a project or idea…
…I walk away.
So I put it down and forgot about it. Jared reached out to me a few times about finishing it up and I think he just eventually got tired of asking me about it since I clearly wasn’t interested in it anymore.
I thought about it from time to time, but all of 2015 for the most part, I ignored it and kept myself busy with other side projects, my job, my family, and serving in church.
2016 came around. In January I started thinking about the book again, but I was still restless about it and something just BOTHERED me about it. I didn’t know what to change about it but I knew it was off.
Then in April, we had a service in our church that was totally focused on testimonies. We just had person after person take the mic and share a recent story of what God had done in their lives. Some were hearings, financial miracles, stories of angelic encounters…awesome stuff. I noticed something that I’ve noticed before about these type of services, but it particularly bothered me this time. About half the people that came up to share their story were terrible at it. Hear me out, I’m not trying to be mean…but I was taken aback by how weakly these stories were presented. Here are these powerful stories of life, and love, and redemption, and the miraculous, and the power of God…and yet they are being presented with no passion or excitement.
I get it, some people have a hard time on stage in front of people, and I understand that. But others just didn’t have confidence or zeal for the power of the story. Still others emphasized the “before” side of the story, and when the God moment happened, it wasn’t given proper airtime or “punch” in the telling of the story.
I thought back to other similar services I’d been in, and realized this wasn’t an isolated issue. A lot of Christians simply don’t tell the stories well.
That week, I stumbled across a quote on Instagram that struck me.
“The most important message deserved the most excellent presentation.”
It hit me – I needed to work on a way to help emphasize the importance of excellence when telling the stories of God’s work in our lives!
I revisited my book, and scrapped some sections. I changed the outline, the preface, and decided a new fresh direction for the whole thing.
In October I attended a publishing and writing seminar for Christian authors and it gave me a new fire for the project and equipped me with practical tools and action steps. Jared was excited to hear about the book finally moving forward and he partnered with me in a big way to make it a reality. Words flowed on the page in an exciting and inspired way, and I was thrilled with the shape of the book.
It finally had a purpose, a deeper meaning than a collection of cute stories! It still had stories, but I added stories of others too and not just my own. I added some more Scripture teachings, and some practical advice in the realm of building a good story.
As you’ve probably seen, that book is now a reality and I have hundreds of copies of the finished book in my garage, ready for distribution (I’ll link to it below if you want to pre-order yours)!
My point is not to simply market my book to you right now – but to encourage you if you’ve shelved a personal project or idea.
Let it marinate, and be okay with it changing directions a bit. I went through a big “silent” season in this project, but I’m convinced 100% that I have a better finished product as a result. It doesn’t even have the same title anymore!
Even the cheapest cut of meat can become delicious, savory and succulent when left in a crock-pot or smoker for many hours…so how much more effect can a little time and distance have on your idea?
Don’t be frustrated in the waiting – do the work, put in the effort, give yourself some time, and watch what comes out in the end. Be patient, you got this!