The Writing is Never Complete

In a little over a month my next book releases. Over two years of praying, writing, studying, cutting words (and more words), editing, rewriting, planning, and hoping will come to fruition when Glory in the Ordinary leaves the comfort of the publishing house and lands in the hands of readers (Lord willing!).

Writing a book is an interesting process. It requires a lot of solitude, which is hard for an extrovert like me. But it requires a lot of mental processing, which is perfect for an internal processor like me. I crave it and loathe it all at the same time. I need the space to think and write, but I also need human interaction, so it’s a good discipline for me to learn and re-learn again and again.

Like most processes, the second time through has been different. It brought its own challenges (writing felt harder and more like work this time), but it also brought its own familiarity (I’m not as stressed about the process because I know what to expect). What I wasn’t expecting was how insecure I would feel over the finished product when I finally hit send on the final revised manuscript. After multiple revisions, copy edits, peer reviews, and rewrites I finally had to send it all in knowing that I could make no more changes to the book—and that killed me. I panicked. What if I got it all wrong? What if I missed something super important that will change someone’s life? What it I wasn’t clear enough? Did I use enough scripture? Was Christ the focus of this work or was human capability? Is the book really that necessary? And so the crazy mind games go.

In the days following the completion of the book I was confronted again with the always humbling reality that I am not God. Writing a book can make me feel important. My opinion splashed across 162 pages feels like a big deal, until I wonder if my opinion is wrong. But it is the stuff left unsaid, the stuff I don’t know yet (but will one day), the words that stayed on the cutting room floor even though I believed in them with every fiber of my being, that haunt me. It’s the ever-present gnawing sense that I am finite, and therefore my words are finite, too. I’m limited by my age and understanding, my season of life, my place in my cultural moment, and even my inability to know all things about my readers.

Writing a book reminds me that God is never left with unsaid words, he is not confined by the limited understanding of human beings, or bound by a cultural moment. He is infinite. He knows all things. He has created all things (Col. 1:16). And in him all things hold together (Col. 1:17-20), even the feeble words of an author who can’t always think straight.

As I prepare to birth another book baby into the world I want to humbly accept this reality—that God is God and I am not. But I want to believe in hope that because he has called me to this task, he will use the words on the page, even if I couldn’t say everything I wanted to. Writing, like all of our work, is an exercise in humility and trusting God that he will establish the work of our hands and make something out of nothing—even the words we didn’t know we needed to say.