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.