The day my book releases is an odd day for me. Inside, I am screaming, “My book is out! Everybody, my book is out! Are you going to read it, or what?!” I walk into the bookstore and pretend to only casually check that it’s on the front table. If it’s not, I pretend not to be bothered. I decrease my expectations. I walk towards the women’s section and just hope to see it on the shelf. If it’s not, I pretend to understand, but inside, I don’t understand at all.
Because it’s my heart on the page.
I went through this with my first book, Girl Perfect, and I just went through it again with Beautiful Lies. In the days of the release, something in me wants people to stop and take notice, and that part of me wrestles with the part that knows the act of creating is worth it, whether anyone notices or not.
I hope the late nights, the honest tears, and the sweet victories of finding just the right words to speak my soul’s hunger will result in profundity for the reader. I want my efforts to matter. In fact, I’m tempted to tell you how I crawled through the thickest mud of my adult life to bear this book. But Annie Dillard, in The Writing Life, scolded me about this, warning me never to tell anyone how much a book cost me personally – for it is impolite to do so.
So with the release of a book, three tragic flaws in the self must die. First, the part of us that hungers for recognition has to die to the Spirit in us that is compelled to speak honestly and truthfully into a world that needs our voices. Second, the humanity in us that wants millions to hear the book’s message must die to the Spirit in us that rejoices if one life is purely changed by our words.
Finally, we have to let go of “perfect” and embrace gratitude instead. The perfectionistic questions that circle on publishing day – “Is it enough?” “Did I say everything I wanted to?” “Will the reader understand my heart’s lineage?” and “Is this as beautiful an offering as I dreamed?” – all of these questions must yield to gratitude.
So here is mine: Thank you, God, that I had the opportunity to bleed truth on these pages. Thank you for the healing it brought to me. Thank you that you love me so much as to give my heart’s desire wings, and I commit these books to you, trusting your winds will carry their words wherever they need to flutter. Beautiful Lies is my offering. My alabaster jar. And when I poured its oil, it was all for you.
What about you? What do you have to embrace and let go of on publishing day? What are the needs for recognition or perfection that you battle? What does your gratitude sound like?