Let me warn you up front: this is all about my last 24 hours as a writer. Very inside baseball. You are excused if you find it’s too inside.
First, there’s the book project I’m working on.
As I have mentioned in an earlier blog, I spent the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas writing a devotional assignment (for The Journey) that looked at the Kingdom of Heaven parables taught by Jesus. When I finished writing those, I realized there was more I wanted to say. There were also some parables I had not had room to cover. I decided to write my next book on that topic and so get around with the limits on word length. I went to work revising the order of my notes and began writing.
Partly I was motivated by my joy of “talking it out” with the Lord each day as I write. Writing is one of the few things I can still do, although the stroke has greatly reduced my dexterity on a keyboard. And here let me mention Sign #1 that the Lord has run before my eyes in the last 24 hours.
Last night I watched part of an old television interview with Daphne du Maurier. In one shot it showed her tapping away at a typewriter in classic hunt-and-peck style. She was a best-selling novelist nearly her entire life. I felt like the Lord was saying, “See that? It didn’t slow her down.”
Still, until yesterday, my actual work on the parable book was going at a slow and fitful pace. Not a writer’s block, exactly, but sluggishly. I was writing a line or two, seldom an entire paragraph, each day. I had no deadline to meet and I thought that was probably a good thing.
Then yesterday, when I got up from my midday nap, I had a whole new parable running through my mind. I had been trying to finish the first chapter in which I discussed the parables where Jesus focused on small beginnings (one was about the tiny mustard seed). I thought, “That’s where this book is, now. It’s at the small seed stage and who can tell what it will finally become?” I knew this imagery should be how I ended the first chapter. The eventual readers who would be holding the entire book in their hands, or on their E-book reading device, would be better able to see what the book had become than I could now. And it was possible that it would eventually get read by people I had not yet met. Or would ever meet. As soon as I could, I fired up my computer and wrote it all out. Then, the juices running, I was able to write the rest of the chapter. The seed was finally well planted. Call it Sign #2.
And while I was at it, I blogged about the experience of reading devotionals that I wrote two years ago that have only been published now. This morning, a friend on Facebook who had read that blog posted a note saying it reminded her of something C.S. Lewis wrote. I responded, “This is the first time anyone has compared me to C.S. Lewis so there’s that…” And I’m calling that Sign#3 because I can.
Next I checked my email and almost missed one that had been snagged by my spam filter. It was from Podiobooks, the web page where Melanie and I had posted audio copies of three of our earlier books. You can listen to these audiobook presentations for free but there is also a “tip jar” where listeners can leave a donation if they like. Our paperback and E-book editions have sold a handful of copies. But the free audiobook editions have been downloaded thousands of times over the past couple of years. (No surprise to us. We like free stuff better than having to pay first, too.) Now I was being notified that someone in Massachusetts had listened to my reading of The Mystery of Faith and apparently liked it so much they had (Sign #4) left me a tip!
I went to my account page at Podiobooks to see if I could learn more. I didn’t find any more about the fan who left the tip, but I stumbled across the graph that told where people listening to the books lived.
Two-thirds of the listeners were from Great Britain. Only a fourth were in the United States with the rest scattered around the world. The same was true for Melanie’s audiobook. We had touched people we didn’t know and could not have possibly met. Sign #5.
And there was one more email waiting for me. It was an invitation to write more devotionals for publication in 2018. Sign #6.
I took them as signs of encouragement from the Lord to stay at it. And the day is not over yet. But thank you for these signs, Lord. Today it is very clear what I have to rejoice and be glad in.