Since releasing A Conversational Commentary last fall, a lot of people have asked me the same two basic questions.
1. What made you want to write a book?
2. When did you find time to write a book?
Both come loaded with the not-so-inaccurate assumption that no sane person would ever want to write a book nor have time to do so. I wear a lot of hats — hubby, daddy, student pastor, part-time curriculum writer and advisor to an online resource company, St. Louis Cardinals fan, coffee enthusiast, and so on. On top of all that, I’m a fairly lazy person. So when people ask why I wrote it or what made me write it or when did I have time to write it, I usually laugh because it’s a perfectly logical question.
The answers, of course, are a little complicated. I’ve wanted to write since I was a little kid. There were times as a 3rd grader where I’d hole up in my room with a pen and a stack of paper and binge write for hours. I wrote a whole series of stories in elementary school about a boy named Tony who was everything I wanted to be. He was the star of his Jr. High basketball team (The East Town Tigers, a fictional New York town where he lived with his idyllic family). He was popular with the ladies, despite being pre-pubescent. He saved dogs, survived tornados, and hit last-second three pointers with amazing regularity. One time I put a piece of green construction paper on either side of my stack of scribbles and bound it with duct tape. I recruited classmates to give their two cents on my work and quoted it on the back cover. I wasn’t concerned with whether or not they had read it, I just wanted them to say something nice about it.
I was an author!
I look back on my Tony series and realize that it was with that pen and on that paper that I was recording my hopes and dreams. The basketball thing didn’t quite work out so hot. Although I did play all through high school and at a tiny college after that, I cannot recall ever making a last second shot. I remember missing some. Making any, not so much.
I was never a ladies man. I was the guy in high school that all the girls “looked at like more as a brother.” While I take that as a compliment now, it was pretty frustrating then. I did catch the eye of a pretty impressive gal in college, though. We’ve been married more than ten years now, and have a small quiver of kids to show for it.
To my knowledge, I’ve never survived a tornado. I suppose one may have passed over my house while I slept, but that’s not quite as exciting as the Tony narrative. We did have an earthquake once when I lived in Missouri. It was about four in the morning. My wife was up with our newborn son in the living room. I felt the earth rumbling, stumbled out of bed, for some reason grabbed my pajama pants off the floor, and came wobbling out of our room as the earth’s crust started calming down. For reasons that are still unclear, I did not put the pants on.
“Was that an earthquake,” I asked my wife in a sleepy voice, holding my pajama pants in one hand, rubbing my face with the other.
She laughed at me and I went back to bed.
The point is not what I wear (or don’t) when I sleep. The point is that when I was a kid, I dreamed about the future–where life would lead–and I wrote it down on paper. I did not become a basketball star because I wrote about it, but writing about it helped me sort myself out. It helped shape me.
Some writers write because they have a story to tell. Some probably write because they’re good at it, come by it easily, and make big bucks releasing two suspense novels a year. Some are terrible writers, conceive or ridiculous plots that somehow catch on, and make all the real authors angry at their popular success.
I’m not sure I’m a writer, per se. But I am a dude who is still trying to find his voice in life. Aren’t we all?
–Who are we?
–Who do we want to be?
–Where is life taking us?
So I wrote a book. I did it over the course of almost three years, mostly late at night. It was all born out of my own reading of the Scripture. It was not supposed to be a book, it was just my thoughts about the Bible that I shared with some friends. When I realized it was starting some good conversations, and might be helpful to people who are constantly confused by the thou’s and unto’s of the Bible, I thought it might make a decent book. So I threw it all together, published it independently, and figured my mom and two or three friends might buy a copy. The average self-published title sells about 250 copies in a year. So far, the book is an above average self-published title.
I’m not out to be a famous author. That will probably never happen. I’m not in it to make money, which is a good thing because I get about twenty-five cents of every Kindle copy sold. I’m really not too worried about what I write next, because the truth is I’m not sure I have anything unique to say and I’d rather watch Charlie Rose late at night than write anything else. As a follower of Jesus, I have supreme faith that God is control of my life. It is His plan, not my own, that I am worried about most. Or at least I should be.
If I end up writing something else as substantial as a book a second time, it’ll be because I think it challenges people to think about Jesus in ways they never have before or consider the Scripture as truth instead of another opinion in a crowded cultural dialogue.
In the mean time, my careful treading upon the blogosphere will help scratch that itch that has never quite gone away. I’m 32. I don’t live in East Town, but my community of Katy, Texas is almost as idyllic. And yet I’m not satisfied. I have not arrived. There’s still a lot of hoping and discovering that goes on inside my head. I’m supposed to be all grown up. But deep down inside, there’s still a little boy who occasionally needs to trap himself inside his room, grab a pen, and dream until one day I finally find my voice.