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The Book I’m Not Writing

July 15, 2010

Like every other Blogger within spitting distance, I have thought about writing a book.

I suppose we all fall under the same delusional spell: that our writing is so compelling and magical; the world desperately needs to hear our voice; we have a unique perspective; blah, blah, blah. 

So, despite the fact that the publishing industry is presently throwing up inside its mouth, I still had this inner inkling that my particular writing angle was very special, destined one day to make its way to a full-fledged book deal with a big-time publisher. All it would take was persistance and determination.

Ha.

But, you see, there was this little problem getting in the way. 

I didn’t really know what to write about. Especially something that would fill an enitre book.

I have come to realize that this niche I’ve carved out of “faith in the workplace” is, let’s be honest, colossally boring (despite my attempts to liven it up a bit), as compared to, say, Addiction Memoirs. And the search bots are not exactly burning up the internet lines with “faith in the workplace” search links to my site.

I am clearly dealing in a subject that is not destined for mainstream consumption. But, for better or worse, it is what I am living and interested in and is utlimately what I write about. But to turn it into a book concept that hasn’t already been done? Nah.

Then something happened that I thought would change everything. A couple of months ago a book idea suddenly came to me, all at once, like a dove descending from a cloud. In one split second I saw the entire layout for a book concept, from start to finish. Almost like a vision from on high.

The central idea involves the transition of one’s self-perception of their leadership role in workplace settings, moving from self-centered drudgery to a spiritually-purposed vitality. It would incorporate all of the many posts I’ve written plus the content I have been delivering in the speaking engagements with A New Equilibrium. The cornerstone of it all would be a spiritual-leadership framework that offers a diagnostic self-assessment and step-by-step path for transforming one’s spiritual leadership, chock full with real-life examples and practical tips.

There it was, completely mapped out right before me. I even came up with a snappy one-word title.

It would be called:

“Shift”

“Spiritual Strategies for Transforming Leadership”

 Or, as an alternative for the more conservative Christian publishing crowd:

 “Holy Shift!”

“Spiritual Strategies for Transforming Leadership”

But ever since, I just can’t get it mobilized. Every time I sit down to write a book proposal, I go blank, and turn to work on my next blog post instead. Which is much more fun.  

Then I start with all the excuses. It’s going to take so much work, for one. And it will take so long. And I would have to pretty much put to kibosh on all of my blogging, in order to focus exclusively on this one thing. And then there’s the whole submission-to-publishers thing. The needle in the haystack. Blech. Not to mention that there is absolutely no reason in the world why something like this would even sell, which, as everyone knows, is the only real metric for gauging the value of the effort.

As you can see, just as quickly as the Vision came upon me, my enthusiasm for this project went right out of the room.

Perhaps I don’t care about writing a book after all.

Or maybe I am not disciplined enough. But I am so tired of discipline. And there are only so many hours in the day.

Maybe I am not ambitious enough, and I should push harder.

Maybe it’s not meant to be, and the world will be just as well off without my unwritten book.

Maybe I’m happier without it.

Aren’t I?

Photo by nAncY.

 

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42 Comments leave one →
  1. July 15, 2010 9:07 pm

    Oh, but you must. Must.

    Who else would tell tales that include, “despite the fact that the publishing industry is currently throwing up inside its mouth.”

  2. July 15, 2010 9:09 pm

    Anything worth doing gets done.

    Have you considered writing it out via this blog? Think of it as a first draft. A rough one. (Nobody writes book-ready in a single stretch. Except maybe L.L.) Use the blog to do some conceptual thinking, to test content, get comments, etc. If what you end up with is worth a book, you can take it private, so to speak, and redraft and refine.

    I do like “Holy Shift” by the way. Make sure you get first dibs on that.

    • July 16, 2010 1:07 am

      hahaha, I read Holy Shit the first time. Didn’t have my glasses on. Then thought, well, Camel is being funny. I read the entire post again, correctly. Keep writing and keep having fun doing it. We are your cheerleaders no matter what it turns into. 🙂 Are you PMSing today? Steven Pressfield and Seth Godin call this very thing-THE LIZARD BRAIN snorting Resistance………..

      • July 16, 2010 5:13 am

        Kathleen – you are hilarious. (and I was being funny). I have to think about the Lizard Brain snorting reisistance thing…

    • July 16, 2010 5:10 am

      Thanks Mo – I really respect your advice. This is a great idea to kill two birds with one stone, so to speak, As long as I stick to it and are discipined. That would take a commitment.

  3. July 15, 2010 9:13 pm

    Bradley,

    If you write a book, the only thing that is going to matter is if it fulfills a part of you that is yet to be quenched. I have already wrote a boat load of words for my 1st book and I am seriously considering scrapping it. It’s a bunch of leadership rhetoric and jibberish. Sure, some of the stuff is original, but it ain’t gonna sell if nobody understands it (i.e. – being peppered with too many fancy buzz words and quotations).

    I think this is why I must write something entirely for me – something that is going to fill me up and, at the same time, have readers thinking ‘holy shift, this guy is off his rocker but he’s on to something’.

    I’m tired of following the status quo. It ain’t me.

    • July 16, 2010 5:11 am

      Amen, bro. You are saying what I was feeling underneath it all. I only want to write for me, and that’s what I have been gravitating towards so far.

  4. July 15, 2010 9:15 pm

    Curious why you haven’t moved on it. I realize that’s what you’re wondering, too, but seriously, why haven’t you moved on it? It’s worth a convo with your spiritual director or maybe just your self.

    I want a signed copy when it comes out, especially if it’s the kind of project that doesn’t happen easily. Then it will be worth more to me and to you.

  5. July 15, 2010 9:18 pm

    Lol.

    Well, writing a book is a huge endeavor (thanks, Maureen, for that sweet sidenote : ) and I for one have no plans for another book for a good long time. (Until one appears magically in a vision, as it did for you, at which point I will be compelled to write it. And of course if this happens next month I am in deep holy shift ; – )

    When the time is right, you will be compelled too. If you are never compelled, I’ll be just as happy to come here. (Honestly, I think you may end up writing a poetry book before anything else. Just my hunch.)

    • July 16, 2010 5:13 am

      A poetry book first? Now that’s a scary thought.

      • July 16, 2010 6:05 am

        Well, the thing is that one doesn’t WRITE a poetry book. It simply turns up one day. And someone finds it and says, “Oh, look, there’s a poetry book here. All it needs is a bit of editing and a cover.” 🙂

        But you know, that’s really what Eerdmans and RLP did with his blog. You could be the business RLP. 🙂

  6. July 15, 2010 9:51 pm

    well,
    i don’t care about another stupid book,
    unless, of course, it’s what you really want to do.

    but, if you wouldn’t be blogging and writing poetry, i would be really pissed-off.

    • July 16, 2010 5:14 am

      Don’t hold back there, nance! I so appreciate your reading whatever it is that I write. It means alot.

  7. July 15, 2010 9:51 pm

    oh, and thanks for using the photo. 🙂

  8. Andrew permalink
    July 15, 2010 10:56 pm

    It’ll nag you ’til you do it, or die.

    Cheers!

    A

  9. Frank permalink
    July 15, 2010 11:56 pm

    I’m in pretty much the same boat. I’ve attended a couple writer’s conferences and had the short-lived gun-ho I’m really going to do it this time feeling before fizzling out. But after this last time I have a brother helping to hold me accountable. I’m only writing a little at a time. Tackling it in manageable chunks. And it will take a long time, but it’s less intimidating. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. You can do it.

    Love the Holy Shift title too. If I saw that on a shelf I would buy it right away.

    Keep after it and let the Holy Spirit do the talking.

  10. July 16, 2010 5:09 am

    Thanks everbody. This is just like an online writer’s workshop (not that I’ve ever experienced that in real life or online…) I’ll just let the Spirit lead, I guess. I’ll keep you posted. But don’t get your expectations too high!

  11. July 16, 2010 9:28 am

    It might just not be the right time to write the book. That is, you could be having the ideas about the book because you are to write it in the near future, but it might not be coming together (quite yet) because, it isn’t the right time.
    ~
    Having all of these ideas prior to the book can be very helpful. It is allowing you time to machinate and ruminate with the ideas. Then, when it comes time to actually write, it will all just flow right out. 🙂

    With Love and Gratitude,

    The Intentional Sage

    • July 16, 2010 10:17 pm

      Actually, I think this is pretty much true. The idea was conceived, so it is a true possibility for the future. Now it germinates and will someday be born, at the right time. And I honestly only want to do this if it really does “flow right out” like you say. That’s how most of the writing comes to me now. Why shouldn’t this be the same way for a book proposal? Maybe this is even part of the process.

  12. July 16, 2010 11:19 am

    You describe the dilemma so well, especially given the current state of the industry. Speaking for myself, I want the desire to write a book to leave me alone so that I can go on writing happily. But it won’t leave, like a summer mosquito.

  13. July 16, 2010 11:45 am

    I think the book will happen. It just might not be the one you were originally intending.

    I think I could suffer out a memoir. But I don’t believe this is where I’m going.
    Or being lead . At least not the original concept.

    What do I know.

    just that mysterious trust thing.

    • July 16, 2010 10:19 pm

      Thanks for the trust reminder.
      I would love a memoir from you. Of course, I would buy and read anything you published.

  14. July 16, 2010 6:13 pm

    Bradley I have had a lot of similar thoughts about writing a book on faith in the workplace (and several topics before this one grabbed me!). Except you write much better than I do so I’m even less inclined to try. What the blogs do though is keep us all challenging one another, forcing us to organize thoughts, share stories, sparking conversations with our friends and colleagues, driving our speaking, teaching, preaching or whatever we’re doing. A book will have value for a certain group of people (those who like to read books with quirky titles like Holy Shift!) – occasionally that will turn out to be a big group (e.g. if your name is McLaren or Wright or similar). I need to surrender my pride and ego to God and let Him choose who I share these thoughts with. Perhaps at some point it will be a broader group, possibly even a book, but for now it is people I know directly and a smattering of others who read the blog. I trust that He will tell me when it’s time to commit to something bigger – I pray He’ll do the same for you!

    BTW I am also greatly blessed by your blog-writing so I’m kind of with Nance on that point!

  15. July 16, 2010 10:21 pm

    Thanks so much Graham for the kind words. You are absolutely right about blogging – it certainly allows us to sharpen our ideas, share with and challenge one another. It’s been such a great experience for me, book or no book.

  16. July 17, 2010 7:33 am

    sometimes the best blog posts come of this kind of self-reflection. Who would have thought writing about NOT writing a book would make such a great post? You’ve made me think a little about the recent explosion of voices entering into mainstream publishing from blogging backgrounds. sometimes these voices are fresh. Even if you end up writing a book about faith in the workplace this process of asking why NOT do it is helpful i think.

  17. July 17, 2010 9:40 am

    Bradley,
    Have you thought about collaboration with someone who “gets you?” I’ve done some of that with academic papers, articles, presentations and stuff. The discipline of shared deadlines, serious feedback and the reconciliation of style, etc. is really tough but wonderfully rewarding as well. The whole “iron sharpens iron” thing really works.
    Rupert

    • July 19, 2010 7:15 pm

      Rupert- I actually published something about 10 years ago with a “ghost writer” who was supposed to write out all of my thoughts for me. I ended up firing him after two chapters and just finished the work myself. This was when I discovered that I liked to write. And also how controlling I was over the output. But I think what you are describing is closer to what Frank said in a previous comment about having an accountability partner to keep you on track in the process. Which is a great idea. But I am not ready for that yet!

  18. July 17, 2010 7:01 pm

    Brad: You already know I like your writing, and the stance you’ve taken. I also enjoy those who’ve been attracted to your site and find what you say is worth while. I visit them, as well. The quality of their work says a great deal to me about the quality of yours. These aren’t dunces who ponder your thoughts! They don’t “blow smoke” and I expect if they find your work has value there is a market for such. Frankly, I’d rather have an honest criticism from some of them than to have insincere fluff from someone incapable of thinking a deep thought or composing an intelligent sentence. You also know I’ve encouraged you to find a wider audience, and have given thought myself to how I might contribute to your being “discovered” and published. How to find it, or exploit it? Now thass another mattah! I stopped giving advice a long time ago, especially when no one asks me for it. However, I want you to know that you’ve made me think pretty seriously about things I’d not have considered otherwise. And you’ve also been a great source of encouragement as I’ve blundered along trying to find my own way in the world of words. ~donkimrey

  19. July 17, 2010 11:26 pm

    Colossally boring? That hurts man. That really hurts. I say that you write the book anyway, then recreate the picture you used to have on your header with the crane,camel, and 7 story needle. Show up at every book signing on a camel and carry a big needle. The merchandising options alone are mind blowing.

    With all due respect, if Joe the Plumber can write a book that people will buy so can you. I think it was Michael Hyatt that said when he thought about all of the blog posts he’d written it would rival War & Peace. You’ve certainly demonstrated the aptitude, and if it’s been nagging at you for quite a while then perhaps God is trying to get your attention?

    Only you know what God has put on your heart, but I’ll buy a copy when it’s published. Can I pre-order today?

    • July 19, 2010 7:11 pm

      Brad, I don’t know if you were around when I ditched that great camel/crane photo, but I had lifted it off of another site without permission, and after several attempts to track down the owner, felt that the right thing to do was to not use it. There were a couple folks who said to go ahead and use it since you at least made an attempt, but many others felt that the honest and right thing to do was to let it go. BUT IT’S SUCH A GREAT SHOT!!! I’m so impressed that you even remember it!

      And as for the “colossally boring…” Well, that’s just me. I get worn out with scriptures and theology and Christian cliches. And I’ve been exposed to far too much of it in my days. So I go off the beaten path a bit. No offense, because I so appreciate what others are doing in this little niche to bring about a greater integration of Christian/Spiritual Life with our work! I know for me, that has been life-changing.

  20. July 18, 2010 4:02 pm

    Brad,, I like Brad. If he weren’t talking about camels, I’d swear the guy is just “horsing around!” Or that he’s just trying to needle you! Or get your goat (or camel.) But Heaven knows we’re much too serious here for that. I’d buy your book, too, and tell others they should. And they ought also to read it ~ don

    • July 19, 2010 4:10 pm

      Okay, maybe the crane and camel would be an expensive PR stunt; however, I bet it would make all of the news shows. Follow that with a camel at his book signings and every local paper and news station would cover the event.

      Can you imagine Sunday School classes and parents across the United States using a camel and needle plush doll to teach children about what the Bible says concerning wealth? Wouldn’t that be a welcomed sight versus the deafening silence most churches pay the topic now?

      At least the topic wouldn’t be “colossally boring.” I honestly would buy Bradley’s book, and I would really buy a plush camel too. I march to my own drum though so who knows if anyone would follow me.

      • July 19, 2010 7:07 pm

        Brad and Don – thanks for pre-ordering my book that hasn’t been written yet! You guys are great.

        And Brad – could you be my PR agent? Those are some cool ideas. Now all we need is some funding. Hmmmm. Oh, yeah, and someone has got to write the book. I almost forgot about that!

  21. July 20, 2010 11:26 am

    Okay…Tough love time, Brad.

    Stop making excuses. Have you read The War of Art by Steven Pressfield? You need to get that book and read it. Maybe twice. What you’re dealing with is The Resistance.

    As I see it, you excel at what you do, and you know you’re good at it. Writing a book puts you on shaky ground, because you don’t know if you can do it well. But you’ll never know if you don’t try. And I don’t mean sort of try. I mean really try. No more whining.

    I should be a professional muse…

  22. July 21, 2010 6:28 pm

    Not too much to add here, but great post. I love getting a glimpse of the conflict, though I have no aspiration (or real talent) for writing a book. I’m pretty sure that I write for me, with the hope that it’s meaningful to others.

    I would definitely buy your book though!

  23. July 29, 2010 4:47 am

    You definitely should write it, Brad! I totally love the PR approach of Brad and I’m looking forward to see the pictures of the camel and the needle appearing on the front pages of WSJ, NYT etc. 🙂

    Now, for funding: maybe we could do some crowd funding! Here in the Netherlands we have TenPages.com where you can place 10 pages of your manuscript and let people buy shares to publish your book. Once all shares are bought it will be published by one of the partnering publishers (including Pearson Education). I don’t know whether you have such a thing in the US?

    But for sure, I’d buy your book too!

  24. August 16, 2010 5:07 pm

    Writing a book about faith in the workplace – now that’s an idea for me to follow up, especially given that until recently my workplace was a church! Or perhaps secularism in the church? Nah, that one’s been written too.
    I have written the first draft of a book though – and it didn’t take long. I guess that’s how it goes when it is something you absolutely HAVE to do. Until then, it’s like trying to paint a masterpiece with steel gauntlets on.

    PS – My book is actually about love – not very original, but I have yet to come across another book with my take on 1 Corinthians 13!

    PPS – You might remember me as the writer of “ThinkingOutLoud.” I had to stop blogging there because I was accused of using my blog to try and split the church that I no lnger work for. Grappling with Grace is my new blog.

  25. August 20, 2010 5:42 pm

    pay now or pay later… invest in your health and yourself and you will have more of yourself to give!

  26. September 15, 2010 11:41 am

    I’ve struggled with the exact same thoughts of feeling like I’m supposed to be writing a book. The minute I start to think through the logistics of it, I start to hear the voices of reason and rational reminding me that I have nothing original to say that hasnt already been said by many around me.

    But recently I was re-reminded of Jonah. Here is a man who has been fighting God every step of the way to go to Ninevah, and he even got to enjoy three days in the gastric juices of a fish before heading in the right direction. You would think he would be thrilled to go to Ninevah, considering he last stop.

    He finally walks into the city, and speaks just eight English words: “Forty days more and Ninevah will be overturned.” The city’s immediate response was to repent. Now I’m no writer but even I know it wasnt his charismatic delivery that caused the city to turn from its sinful ways. It was the Lord speaking through him.

    All that to say, if God’s calling you to write the book… write… write, even if you dont know how it will all come together. Write, even if it doesnt make sense. Ultimately, if it is God who wants you to do it… he will use those words as he deems fit.

    Just something I have been encouraged by.

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