Much of my life has been spent in the publishing and communication industries. I’ve written about 24 books (actually, somewhere along the line I stopped counting. I keep thinking of that sardonic comment by Francis Bacon—was it Francis Bacon?—“of the making of books there is no end”). If I haven’t been writing my own books, I’ve been party to the making of published materials. I’ve discovered that there is a cycle in publishing that has driven me, frustrated me, disciplined me and helped me. Well, I’ve known this cycle exists—I just never have thought about it in terms of one of those rhythms that is integral to what I do.
Probably every profession has a similar rhythm that is party to its unique essentiality—but this is the rhythm with which I am most familiar. Let’s look at it for a moment; let’s think of it as a way of “dancing with books.”
- First, someone comes up with what they hope is a great idea.
- Second, a proposal is ventured.
- Some publishing committee looks over the proposal and decides if this is a good project to print.
- The author is notified.
- If the green light is given, the author begins to gather more ideas, to organize the patterns of this book for its future published life.
- Creative ennui comes calling. (It’s a really big project and hard to start!)
- The editor phones, sends an e-mail, writes a note: “How’s the book going?”
- Time to get serious: now the hard work begins. (Would hate to have to return the advance; it’s spent already.)
- Writing and rewriting—two chapters, four chapters—oh, halfway there. (Why did I ever start this? When will it be over?)
- Finally, the manuscript is done and sent in with pride in accomplishment.
- Agonizing silence from the publishing end. (Maybe a postcard that says, “Manuscript in house. Will be in touch.”)
- That dreaded bibliography still needs doing.
- Revision: oh, agony. More work!
- Finally, the revisions are completed. A CD is sent or an attachment via e-mail.
- Waiting during the copyeditor’s interim.
- Finally! Cover designs and back copy to check, pages from the copy editor, editorial proofs (bluelines; hopefully with no changes).
- Then months of silence.
- At last! A box or package lands at your door. There it is!
- The book.
This is a sophisticated rhythm that happens almost identically (with a few variations) every time I put a book out into the world. Indeed, at every point of the “book waltz,” I find I am dependent upon God to help me step in time to the project well. All work routines can be transformed into rhythms; that is part of what I mean by “dancing with God.”
Why not try to list the rhythms in your life? Is there a rhythm in the seasons (not just the passing of days but the celebrations, work habits, and activities of the seasons)? Are there rhythms in your family gatherings? Do you know how routines can be transformed by God? What steps can you take to make that happen?
Other projects involving Karen right now are: Working with teams of Christian women to design Retreats of Silence, in both 24-hours and three-days formats, through the aegis of Hungry Souls. Developing hospitality initiatives that train Christian men and women how to use their own homes in caring outreaches through the Open Heart, Open Home ministries. Launching the Global Bag Project, a worldwide effort that markets sustainable cloth shopping bags to provide sustainable incomes for bag-makers in developing nations. Researching the impact of listening groups while overseeing some 240 small groups over the last three years. Experimenting with teleconference mentoring for Wannabe (Better) Writers. Designing the Tales of the Kingdom Web site.