On Birthing a Book (and Why I’m Pacing Myself in 2015)

Birth Announcement

For those of you who know me and my writing, the connection between birthing a book and birthing a baby  is nothing new. With only secondhand knowledge of childbirth, it’s easy for me to make much of the similarities: both are an offering of our selves to the world, both produce something that wholly belongs to us and yet wholly has a life of its own, and both induce moments of less than flattering grunts, tears, and swears.  In sum birthing a book, like birthing a baby, is one of the most harrowing acts of creation I know.

This is why it feels so strange to me that at the precise moment when an author is most vulnerable (publication), she is expected to be most exposed (publicity). It would be like asking a pregnant woman to give a press conference on the day of birth, host a “launch party” when she comes home from the hospital, or write a series of articles within the first week of motherhood for her blog, friends’ blogs, and friends of friends’ blogs on just what exactly she was hoping to accomplish with this child.

It’s not like anyone tells you you have to do x amount of interviews, events, and articles. Like a lot of things, most of the pressure we feel comes from the overachieving voice within that wants to “make the most of things” and “not miss out on opportunity.” I’ve even gotten pretty good at spiritualizing this voice. Instead of the overachiever, she becomes the good steward. “Making the most of things” becomes “using my god-given talents.” Not missing out on opportunity” becomes “not hiding my light under a bushel.” It’s hard sometimes to discern where her voice ends and God’s begins.

So instead of following some inner voice, I’ve decided to listen for God in my inner delight in 2015. Instead of making a list of all the things I could be doing to promote the book, I’m asking myself what I want to be doing. “What opportunities quicken my soul?” “What collaborations spark my curiosity?” and “How many monthly to-do’s sustain my integrity?” Delight is why my first book event has me leading a women’s retreat at my local church instead of lecturing in front of strangers. Delight is why when I travel I ask friends if they want to host a house reading before reaching out to bookstores. Delight is why I won’t get on a plane more than once a month.

An editor once told me it’s smarmy to complain about being published. (How did Amy Poehler do this so charmingly in Yes Please?) So in the spirit of gratitude (and social mores), I want to share some upcoming engagements that do, in fact, have me glowing*:

    Durham, NC. January 23-24, 2015. I’ll be facilitating this overnight retreat on how to practice deep listening, embrace stillness, and belong to God in the quiet. Registration is open until January 9th.
    Durham, NC. January 30, 2015, 5-7pm EST. Join me at my house to celebrate the launch of the new book – and the Durhamites who are featured in it – over cupcakes and bubbly. Contact me for an invite.
    Online Curriculum. February 2015. Want to belong but don’t know how? In this web series, I’m sharing six key lessons for those who feel fed-up, left-out, or boxed-in by the church.
    Online Panel Discussion. February 3, 2015, 12-1pm PST. Join me, Scot McKnight, and two other engaging speakers for a debate on why church matters.
    San Francisco, CA. February 8, 2015, 7:30-9 PST. Over wine, whiskey, and cheese, I’ll be gathering with old friends and new to read from the newly released book. Contact me for more details.
    Durham, NC. February 17, 2015, 7-8 EST. Join me in my hometown for a reading of the new book. If you’re lucky, my friend Sarah will bring her famous cinnamon roll cupcakes again.
    Spokane, WA. March 5, 2015, 7-8 PST. My friend Cara S. set up this sweet reading at her local bookstore. I’ll also be facilitating a brief discussion on belonging to the church in a commitment phobe culture.
    Portland, OR. March 6-8, 2015. I’ll be leading a small group breakout session at this gathering of women who lead in the way of Jesus.
  • RISKING THE CALL TO BELONG: A COURAGE & RENEWAL RETREAT Chicago, IL. August 3-6, 2015. I’m facilitating this interfaith gathering with Parker J. Palmer and a handful of my Courage & Renewal colleagues on how to create true community.

I’ve likened these last few months before Lessons in Belonging pubs (official date: February 2, 2015) to the third trimester of pregnancy. “The calm before the storm,” I chuckle to whoever is listening, animals included. The morning sickness has subsided. The friends and family have been prepped. I’ve made peace with the fact that everything has not and will not go according to plan, but it’s still okay to have one. It’s also okay if it feels a little slack. It takes time for new life to be born.

In the book Free, Mark Scandrette writes, “God always invites us to a life that is freer and lighter than the false paths we will create for ourselves.” (Matthew 11:28-29). Let’s all agree to pace ourselves.

*For the most up-to-date list of my engagements, swing by my upcoming events page. 

7 responses to “On Birthing a Book (and Why I’m Pacing Myself in 2015)

  1. I can’t WAIT to read it (so let me know if you’re doing a bloggy tour). And I can’t wait for the 8th. And God bless that Amy Poehler – reading her book now and in love.

  2. Erin! Would love more details about your SF February visit.

  3. Such good reminders and great questions to ponder! Can’t wait to read your new book.

  4. I’d love to know more about your SF event, too. Maybe I can be brave and make the drive to the Bay to see a friendly NC face and get a grand dose of your newest book! I love that you’re letting delight in the Lord guide your book decisions. All the best!

  5. Congratulations!!! How about a house reading on Kauai?? 😉

    My only question is, is it a boy or a girl? (!)

  6. Can’t wait to have you here in Spokane, friend!

  7. Cannot wait to get my hands on a copy! Continue to delight in this moment.

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