Wednesday, July 27, 2005

The Inner Circle

A strange shift occurs when a writer signs her first book contract.

A pre-published writer is treated a bit like a wanna-be. Usually subtly, sometimes overtly.
Many folks are kind and helpful. Some are even interested. But there is a definite feeling of being on the outside and pressing one's nose against the window pane, longing to join the party.

Then the magic moment occurs. The door opens. Inside the lights are a bit blinding, and the music is loud. Laughter and conversation bounce the new author from side to side. Not only is she "in," now she is in demand. Other writers want her to critique manuscripts, judge contests, teach classes, offer endorsements. It could be a heady feeling.

Except for one thing.

Five minutes after signing a book contract, I was the same person I had been five minutes before signing it. The same cranky, self-absorbed, obsessive, giddy, goofy, weary human being. I had no new level of intelligence. No brilliant wisdom imparted from the Orb of Publication.

So what do I make of the strange phenomenon? Why would someone with little interest in my thoughts before the contract, now suddenly find me valuable?

Okay, I understand that having an editor and publishing house believe in me adds some credibility to the stammered declaration, "I, I'm, well, a writer."

But should it?
I know several wonderful, gifted authors whose novels aren't in print yet. They haven't found that perfect match of an editor who loves their style, at a house that has a hole to fill, with a genre that bookstores are clamoring for, in the right time. Or God simply is steering their path the long way around.

And I've read plenty of published books that are poorly-constructed drivel.

It's important for me to remember that truth.

I have a book contract. Praise God. I worked for it, prayed for it, yearned for it, and I'm delighted by it. It's a gift from Him.

But I haven't suddenly become someone worthy of being "inside." In fact, the writer who steps out of the cold weather of seeking publication and inside the ballroom, soon finds there is an inner study where only the REALLY cool folk are invited. And I'm guessing inside that room is a door to the truly exclusive library. It never ends.

C.S. Lewis gives a delicious description of a man corrupted by his longing to join the "inner circle" in the sci-fi novel, THAT HIDEOUS STRENGTH. And once "inside," the man compromises almost anything to keep his position.

Lord preserve me from that deception.

I'm not hot stuff.
Not as a writer. Not as a human being.
I'm a mess, only imbued with beauty and purpose because God, for an inexplicable reason, loves me.

That's the only inner circle I need. And we're all in that one together.

1 comment:

Bill B said...

Thanks for the reminder. As I work on my book, which I hope will be published, I need to remember that it's all God's work. Whether it's published isn't a reflection of my worth but rather a statement of what God wants in this part of my life. Even if it doesn't happen, I will have learned things because of the whole process--research, organizing and expressing my thoughts, and so on. I've grown and developed as a part of the process. And it's been fun, I've met and made new friends, and those are a couple of good blessings themselves.