Monday, June 15, 2015

author, lowercase a

Coffeewife and I were talking about my book the other day. I was telling her about the latest chapter I was working on and how much more I needed to do to finish it, which is quite a bit yet. Then she asked what might happen next; whether I'd want to write another one or if this would be it. I said I'd hope this might lead to another, which prompted her to ask whether I'm aspiring to be a full-fledged Author.

Granted, this book makes me an author by definition. That's kind of how it works. But I differentiate between being an author and being an Author. It's my understanding that the average person who writes a book isn't exactly Scrooge McDuck swimming in his money bin. You have to sell a lot of books to make even a modest living. Many authors have day jobs while doing what they can to promote their work.

Now, an Author, on the other hand, is quite different. They land on big important book lists, they fly all over to speak at conferences and lead workshops, they appear on TV. They can properly live off of this vocation.

At times, the Author becomes the object of promotion rather than his or her work. It's been my experience several times over that those who write on faith and spiritual things are far from immune from this. At other times, the Author becomes the object of derision rather than his or her work. I've seen this plenty of times, too.

I have no illusions that this book will make me an Author. But I've seen enough from afar to not want to be one. But even besides those reasons, I really like what I'm doing.

I like the amount of time I'm spending with my family. I treasure Friday Pizza Night and vacations and seeing Coffeeson in plays and accompanying him to Cub Scouts and chasing Coffeedaughter around the house.

I like my church. We've got our work cut out for us just like any other when it comes to remaining healthy and vibrant, but we're in a good spot overall and I as their not-so-new-anymore pastor am finding my groove among them, deepening relationships and discerning how we can best be faithful together.

If I'm constantly away at conferences or wherever else, I don't get to do what I want to do in either of those areas. I honestly don't know how Authors who serve churches juggle those things. It boggles my mind.

Make no mistake, I'm committed to my writing and to being an author. I want my book to reach people and help them. I want to take seriously my commitment not just to writing it but to tell people about it. I also want to write to help people explore or name something for themselves; for the book to be the focus rather than me. Some adjustment is inevitable and a certain amount of promotion is necessary, and I accept that. But I hope that as all of this develops I listen to people if they notice that I'm making myself the focus rather than the work, or if I'm neglecting important areas of my life.

I'm not very interested in being an Author. I'm nervous about the attention that even being an author, lowercase a, will bring, both for what it might do to me and for what it might do to parts of my life that I want to preserve no matter what happens.

So I'm going to leave this post here as a reference point. Maybe every once in a while a reader can refer me back to it. "Hey, remember that thing you wrote back in June? You're not doing it. Get it together." That sort of thing. It'd probably help. Really.

Now, having said all of that, back to writing.