Sunday, June 15, 2014

When Leadership and Spiritual Direction Meet

Surreal. Just plain otherworldly. I feel like a dream has materialized into my reality. Writers write to write. To express feelings. To live into the images they see in their mind’s eye. To bring to life the world in which they live. True writers write not to be published, but to be heard. Still, writers have that deep need to be published, as a way of throwing their words into the universe. Much of what writers write ends up buried in a closest, hidden on a thumb drive, or worse yet, deleted. Yet, every once-in-awhile, for a wanta-be writer like me, it happens. The baby, the damnation of the blank page, the desire of heart, finds the light of day. Someone, for some reason, believes in your work. Those years of sitting in front of a screen, materializes into a book. Published by a credible publishing house. And there is it. You hold it. You see it for sale on Amazon. The imagination becomes tangible.

Almost four years ago I submitted a query letter to Alban Publishing. I’ve done that dozens, maybe a hundred times before, nothing. So, I was shocked, in disbelief, when I received a personal email asking for a proposal and three sample chapters. I had to re-read the email three times. Then I asked my wife to read it. Just to make sure I wasn’t projecting some misplaced hope onto the request.

For two years, I worked with Beth Gaede, a meticulous editor and wise guide. I will forever be grateful for her patience and insight. She challenged me. Made me angry. Forced me to delete whole sections. Then she inspired me to write again. To work. I got better with every re-write. Finally finished, then to the copy editor. Off to the proof-reader. Almost ready.

But wait! Something was happening—actually something was not happening. Nothing was moving. Beth didn’t know what was going on. I couldn’t get anyone at the Alban Institute office to talk to me. A few frustration filled months went by. Then an email from an Alban editor—the publishing arm of the Institute was being sold to another company. All will be well, he told me. Oh shit, what will happen now. Will my book get buried? Lost in transaction? More months of silence.

Then, late one Friday afternoon I received an email from Rowman and Littlefield. One of the ten largest publishing houses in the US now had my book and they were ready to move forward. That was the best Friday afternoon email I think I’ve ever gotten—nope, I’m sure of it.

Now When Leadership and Spiritual Direction Meet: Reflections and Stories for Congregational Life is in print. When I return from Ireland we’ll plan a few signing parties. Writing that is weird. Saying it out loud sounds strange. Reading it makes me smile.

Yes. I’m writing another book. Working title—Pilgrimage: A Way of Life. Still waiting for a response from another publisher. I love this way of life, truly I do! Keep writing.

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