Writing Prayers of Honoring (now in it’s second printing!) was one of the biggest challenges of my life, not because it was hard to write or self-publish, but because each time I sat down to write “my book” (or “my bloody book”, which is how I think I was handling it in the more purgatory-like of spaces), the book I thought would be “probably the best idea”, I would write and propose and consult and confer and then it would settle over me: I don’t want to write this book.
I don’t want to write this book! Hell, I don’t want to read this book, either. And eventually it would give way to, Let someone else write this book, while I write the one I want to write. Basically, the one that’s on my heart. And I eventually had to slip out the side door of my sweet agent’s big faith in me and do it my way. I love her. She loved everything I wrote and was behind me all the way, bless her.
There was something unsettling in the thoughts I’d have of working with a big conglomerate who would (in my nightmares) control the content- like muff the layout, or ask me to change things I was very fond of, or expect me to categorize the book in a way which required it to stretch too much. My understanding was that they wanted a pretty detailed plan for what was going to happen with it, but I couldn’t go that route. Not with my first baby. Like so many creations, a book is a baby. I don’t want well-doers to be planning out it’s life before it’s even born, and I before get to hold it, see it, and appreciate who it is as an entity all it’s own. Thinking about working with a publisher shut down my creative process because it wasn’t the way for me.
Self-publishing is a viable option for those who need to nurture a thing into form before we put our name on it and send it out into the world hollering HEY, LOOK AT ME! Better still, we now have countless resources for collecting our works inside of a little bound body so that we can visualize it and see how it feels in our hands. Another option is to take Times bestselling author Jane Green’s approach and assume the role of a big house with high standards using a crowdfunder or Kickstarter. My point is that we don’t have to try to write books or package our collections in a way that everyone will like – we can write a book that we think has wildly mass appeal or a quiet, little sentimental – on our terms.
Writing to make a publisher happy can be like an artist trying to paint commissions. We fear the work will lack in soul.
I remember something Jonatha Brooke once shared about being allowed into Woody Guthrie’s archives, where she found little scraps of paper and napkins with snatches of songs scribbled onto them, which she was asked to complete for him. This thought occurs to me when I’m trying to experience the soul of a thing, and not the compressed, tidy version, because she was present to his soulscribbles and honored them with her own. I love to read published diaries of artists in their own handwriting for this reason. Perhaps it can be likened to listening to analog records, where you can hear tiny noises in the background and scritchy bits that digital process cleans out.
Because I truly love the soul of things- the lumpy, stuttery, chipped-paint, oft-discarded treasures, I may be a self-pubber forever. I don’t know.
It’s also totally possible that once you have a sample of what you would love your book to look like, and you can feel it in your own hands, it will be easier to propose to a publisher. The jury seems to still be out on whether you should write your book before you propose it, and this resource will help you learn more about what the proposal process looks like and why, and make a decision. 2016 may be the year you write the book that’s on your heart…
Once I stopped battling with myself about the books I didn’t want to write, I was free to write what I wanted to write. So, writing Prayers wasn’t difficult at all, it was letting myself write it that was the biggest challenge. And being vulnerable. That bit.
Funny aside, At Amazon, we don’t even know how to list it: Will it go under Mind-Body-Spirit? Under Religion? Poetry? That it has to fit in a category so sellers know how to organize it drives me crazy! Probably because I naturally rebel against labeling and categorizing things of heart and soul. I resent that we do this to children as a culture, sorting and placing them as if they are quantifiable units. Be that as it may, I loved writing Prayers. I loved drawing up from my own heart and delivering it through my instrument, willing to share.
Today we’re sending off our next order to stock Prayers of Honoring for the holidays, because we SOLD OUT of the Summer batch of five hundred!! Thank you deeply to all who got a copy for yourself, for a friend, and to those who share your images at Instagram (#prayersofhonoring), I’m grateful that it inspires you and that some of you are using it as educational material for your circles and groups. What a bonus!!
If you’d like to order copies of the book for the holidays, use coupon code PRAYERS25 and for 25% off the price of the book. All orders will ship out by November 20.
I’m so grateful to have written it and that it’s touching hearts. I also would LOVE to hear from you in the comments about what you would like to see in a children’s version of POH… 🙂