Today we finish our discussion of Looming Transitions. This month has been a good reminder of a life principle: what you dread may end up being a bigger blessing than you would have guessed and it will pass more quickly than you may be ready for.
We’ve come to the end of the book, so it really will be time to move on next week, but I’m not quite ready.
Here is a bit more behind the scenes on the book—and thank you for caring about these details! Since I’d never written a book before, there were parts of the process I hadn’t thought of before, but would have enjoyed hearing from other people. Oh, let me also clarify, this book is self-published, so someone who has an agent and works with a publishing house will have a different experience. I tried to go the traditional route but I couldn’t find an agent who thought the need for this book was great enough for a traditional publishing house to be interested.
I decided even if the number of people who bought this was relatively small, the benefit to them and their lives mattered more than number of sales.
The first title of this book was Finishing Well: When Life Still Goes On and can I tell you how much I loved that title? You know when you think you have the perfect name for a person and you call this future imagined person by a name? Well, that’s how I felt about Finishing Well. I wanted to convey that this book would help a person, um, finish well. On my computer, all of the chapters, the various editions, and the final drafts are still stored in my Finishing Well file, her first beloved name. Whenever I’d be with my community in Beijing and needed to project something from my computer on a larger screen, often they would see the file and comment on it. It was my known baby and I loved her.
Then I took part of the introduction to a writing group I’d visit when I was back in the US and the most senior writer, who I respect and is massively connected in the writing world, eviscerated the title. E-vis-er-ated. He had good reasons and I don’t remember all of them now I was so stunned. I’d heard not to get too attached to your title because it most likely would change. But Finishing Well seemed so perfect, I thought I’d be the exception and wouldn’t need to change my title. I decided then that I would try my best to hold the title loosely and even though I still called it Finishing Well, I knew it would change.
I entered a writing contest trying to win a publishing deal for the book. I spent a long time working on the proposal—especially the title. At that point, her name was Ending Chapters: When the Story Continues. This version was in reaction to so much of the literature about transitions focusing on retirement. I wanted to show that a phase of life really was ending, but that your life wasn’t over and the story would continue.
Well, I didn’t even make it into the top ten of the contest, so I knew I wasn’t there yet. Ugh. This titling of a book is hard work! Last spring, around St Patrick’s Day (because I remember talking to my editor the first time while I treated myself to a shamrock milkshake), I started reworking the manuscript in earnest. It hit me one day, after reading finishing well about 27,438 times in the manuscript, that I had to edit that phrase out; and as much as I had been resisting the word “transition” because I didn’t want people to think the book was about the whole gamut of before and after a transition, it was indeed a book about transitions.
Duh. One can be too close and miss what is right in front of you. Once Transitions surfaced, I knew it needed a word that would help convey the messiness involved. The excitement, the loss, the upending of a life. Looming popped up in my mind and that was that. I won’t bore you with the subtitle, but that was reworked and reworked.
One of my dear friends really isn’t into editing but I trust her ear. I texted her version after nuanced version of the subtitle. She kept saying, “I don’t know how to help you, but you are not there yet.” Indirectly she was saying, “and please stop texting me.” You know when you can’t drop something? That was me. I texted back, “99% of the time, it is not annoying to be my person, I’m so sorry this is the 1%, I CAN’T help myself. What do you think of . . . ?”
The cover, the back cover, and the proofs
Well, I had planned to share about the cover (#1 thing to consider: how does it make you feel. #2? Can you read the title in a thumbnail on your phone). The back cover — Be thankful for the editing process!! I had no idea how many words to put on it and it was so crowded the first time. And dull as dirt. My friend Tanya wrote that lovely paragraph, (the one on Amazon), and I was so worn-out by that time and loved it, so I used it verbatim! When you get your proofs, and you actually see how parts lay out on the print, it is both exciting and painful. I had no idea how much work was still left — I printed out a PDF version 1 and version 2 and then got a physical book.
I think you can tell, this book was a labor of love. It was emotionally taxing to write and edit. It kept raw pain open, yet is also introduced me to new friends. It helped bridge one phase of life to another. How could I express what a gift and labor and anchor and weight this was? How I had not done it alone? How much God used the very writing to help keep my soul fertile? When I wrote them, it felt like I was pronouncing a blessing, a benediction over the book.
To the chapters at hand
This is a much longer post than normal, I’d apologize, but you can stop reading any time you want :). It’s Not Just About You, Work Out Your Grief, and Your Unique Path. I reread those three chapters before I started this post. I don’t mean to make this in too grandiose a way, but if these ideas really take root in ourselves, our teams, and our organization, can you image the difference it could make in Kingdom Work? The enemy of our very souls wants us to focus on ourselves, shut down, and avoid the pain of the grief.
Thankfully, the Lover of our souls invites us to what appears to be a harder path, but it leads to life, a bigger story, and fertile soul.
If you wouldn’t mind leaving a one sentence review on Amazon, I’d appreciate it. Just cut and paste a sentence you’ve already written and to those who have posted reviews, thank you! Once 100 reviews are reached, it triggers Amazon to start recommending a book more.
Thanks for reading this. I really can’t thank you enough.
P.S. After a Looming Transition, next week we get to go on a trip Around the world in 80 days by Jules Verne! It is $6.99 in paperback or free on Kindle. It’s a short read, so we will do half the book next week and finish the book the next week. I’ve read it in preparation and can’t wait to discuss it with you. I’m ready for something light 🙂
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