Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Manuscript All Done

Yesterday I was satisfied to receive two emails confirming that my manuscript is completely edited and done. It will be sent to the printers next week. I should have the book in hand by the end of July!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Youth vs. Youth

Late last night, Jonalyn and I drove back from visiting old-time friends in Temecula, CA. The neon lights from 10,000 stores, shops, and billboards flicked images at my weary eyes. One caught my attention enough to break the silence. It was a company selling items for "Baby and Youth."

Suddenly I noticed a dichotomy on the word "Youth." In clothing, "youth" is that size you wear in elementary school. It is when you are a mama's boy or daddy's girl, still unscarred from hearing that parental talk about Birds and Bees.

Teens, however, are not sold "youth" clothing. They have grown into adult sizes of various sorts.

Yet when you go to church, the word "Youth" is used to speak of these same teens. Adults at the mall; youth at church. These "youth" carry with them the auspicies of family protection, of church parenting, and of sheltering seedier things. If you show a movie in "youth" group, you can guarantee it will rated fitting enough for the 8 year olds.

This is not to say that those marketing to teens have it right and the church has it wrong. The marketers may only be making a plea to sell clothing. And movie ratings that give kids permission to start watching partial nudity by age 13 may have it all wrong. And church may make too many excuses for immature behavior in their "youth" groups.

But I want to point out this one thing:

There may be an underlying subconscious belief among teens that when they go to the mall and the movies they are talked to and treated like adults. But when they are in their Christian 'youth' groups, they are treated as much less. They may have the perception that what the marketers are offering them is real life, telling them to grow up and join a larger crowd. While in their homes, they may rightfully be treated as still not mature enough to grow up.

How many stories have I heard from families who do not want their kids to go "away" to college because they think a college close by is a better bet. And what they really mean is that they want to continue parenting and not set their kids to fly to other skies. This is often the voice of parents who haven't faced the fact that they cannot live vicariously through their children but must find their place, happiness, and value in other ways God designed.

So guys and gals, go easy on your parents as they care for you and love you. But be always thinking that today is a day to grow up in. However we decide to define "youth," do bear in mind your part to grow up, to build up, and live into the permanent things.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Prayer under the Mesa

Last week, Jonalyn and I went out of town for some rest in the rolling slickrock of Moab, UT. While enjoying the sun and scenery, I got a call from my editor that the book needed be cut by 1/3 to fit with the book formatting.

This did not coincide with the contract and I immediately called my agent about what to do. My editor had already graciously re-edited my manuscript so I wouldn't have to. But that meant cutting out the personalized feel of the book as well as many anecdotal moments. That wouldn't do for me, in part, because that would only heap it upon the large pile of already impersonal apologetics books on the market. It's personalization is one thing that sets it apart.

I took a walk out of our campsite under the shadows of the mesas. Lady Jane, one of our corgis, fell into step beside me as I walked and walked to find a quiet place. And there I spoke with God.

I shared my frustration with him at the many, many re-writes to trim the book down to its length. I told him that had I known it would have needed to be 1/3 shorter, that I would have approached the book chapters a little differently.

He listened and waited for me to finish. I felt heard and that my frustration was on the table for him to consider. Would he even have an answer?

His first question back to me was not about edits. It was, "Whose book is this? And what is it's purpose?" Well, the purpose is to help wandering folks who are looking for some tidbits of an answer to live into. It is for those myriad of students who ask me for book recommendations to their questions. It is for those who are intellectually suffering but may not have the staying power to trudge through academia.

But whose book is this? Hmmmph. It was his. I thought it was mine for a moment, but it was his. And that only made sense, really. I wasn't writing the book to be anyone special. I was writing it for the students.

Then he seemed to reply, "Perhaps I want these new edits in the book to make it accessible for those I have in mind."

Fair enough. There, in the red rock, I matter-of-factly let him make his edits. If it will help, then let it help. If it required hacking out my journey to finding God that is in the midst of the book, then so be it.

It was a simple dialogue with God. Not much wrestling. We've been through similar things before and I know it is just easier to lay it out there and move forward.

I returned to camp, whistling at Jane to catch up, and ready to work on my edits in a few days.

On our drive out of Moab, I got a call from my editor again. "No need to edit. We made it fit!"

And just like that, my book remained in tact. Unfortunately, to keep the length down, they had to remove a lot of the cool formatting elements inside that would have spiced up the viewing pleasure of the reader. But I'm glad they didn't sacrifice content for some extra graphics and paragraph spacing... I'm unsure what the statistics are, but I don't think book format has helped people see God as much as the content of ideas.

So the book is steadily on track. And my final edits are due Sunday.