If you haven’t read part 1–> click here
When asked to make 2012 new year’s resolutions I couldn’t. I dreaded the year ahead of me. All I could see were sleepless nights, incessantly feeding a baby, and loss of freedom. While I knew “baby’s first years” were sweet, they were also draining.
Bill’s phone call and invitation to write a book proposal gave me hope. Perhaps I did have a life outside of “babyland”. It was a helpful boost in my fallen spirit. In“part 1” of my story I ended with signing the agent contract…and having broken my foot.
The book proposal
In May 2012 (with a broken foot vacationing in San Antonio), I spoke with Bill about the next step-writing a book proposal. For those interested, a book proposal includes: a book description, book outline, an annotated outline (with descriptions for each chapter) and three sample chapters.
When I asked about a time frame or deadline, he hesitantly mentioned to a Christian publishing convention mid-July. If I written had a decent book proposal by then he could begin to talk about the book with publishers.
Although six weeks may seem like a short amount of time to write up a book proposal, I didn’t “bat an eye”. For one reason, I was convinced writing came super easy to me and I would have no problem writing a proposal quickly (pride?). Secondly, I had already arranged for a girl (a teacher) to help me with the boys that summer, 2 ½ days a week, from early June through July. So I would have lots of focused time to crank out a proposal.
God did some wonderful things in those six weeks of Summer:
- Our sitter brought joy & life into our home…something we (I) desperately needed.She loved on the boys. Dealt with a hard season with transitioning Watts out of a crib. Cleaned up lots of poopy messes. Laughed lots!
- The times I home with the boys were sweeter because of my time away.
- I earned a lot of free bakery items at Panera. 😉
- God humbled me to a whole new level.
Within a couple weeks of writing I turned in my first, very rough, book proposal draft to Bill. Our follow-up phone call began with the words, “This won’t be a long conversation…”
So began my education into the publishing process. I learned writing a description for a book proposal is more like a marketing pitch than a description. I learned I have a LONG way to go in perfecting my writing skills. I learned I’m not the female James Dobson or a 50-year-old woman, so I need to stop writing like I am.
When I got off the phone I turned on my computer to edit and basically start over. Instead I left Panera crying and got a pedicure.
One mistake I made last summer was using every free moment to write. I stopped seeing friends. I stopped living life.
Once I was at Panera when two very dear friends were sitting right. next. to. me. But I was “supposed” to be writing, so I didn’t stop and enjoy lunch with them. Big mistake. As flattering and life-giving as writing a book were to me, by neglecting my life, my spirit began to suffer even more.
The second mistake I made was writing out of MY skill and not plugging into the power of our creative God. I never prayed before writing or read His word. I just jumped right in, trying to impress Bill or be the next Ann Voskamp. My “God-centered” book on humility became all about “me” and nothing about God. Ironic.
“God opposes the proud but
gives grace to the humble.” I Peter 5:5b
The next draft critique included the suggestions: to read books on writing, to perfect my memoir writing skills by reading blogs like Big Mama & Boo Mama (two of his other clients), and to lengthen our time frame to six months.
When he pulled back the time frame I felt the weight of all I’d sacrificed to write this proposal. The sacrifice felt wasted (even though I know now it’s a creative process and nothing is ever wasted…). I had given up my life to write the book God had called me to write. Then I found out I wasn’t actually very good at writing.
Before Bill “broke up with me”, I decided I would give him an out. I told him, “If you regret signing a contract with me. If you think I don’t have what it takes to write this book, I need you to tell me now. Because if I’m not any good I’d rather know sooner rather than later”
Bill, in his awesomeness, said, “Publication is like the Olympics. The standard has been set. I didn’t set the standard. But, I am willing to coach you and help you reach that standard. If you are willing to do the work.”
I left the conversation a little defeated but thankful he still had hope in me. He was my advocate.
While reading books on how to write (listed at the end of the post), I reached out to some women in my life who I knew were involved in publication. One dear college friend (how God brought her into my life is a whole post in itself) offered to talk on the phone with me.
When I told her the part about reading Big Mama’s & Boo Mama’s blogs, she stopped me and said, “Heather, I’m editing Big Mama’s book right now. After that I’m going to be editing Boo Mama’s book”. It turns out she has worked with my agent before. She is an editor at Tyndale. AND she offered to help me with my writing. How awesome is our God?
God had given me the message. the agent. the editor. Yet from mid-August until mid-October I didn’t touch the proposal because I couldn’t “find the time” with our new school schedule and I felt ill-equipped. In part 3 of my book writing “tale”, I’ll share how God gave me the boost to get me back on the writing saddle.
Books Bill suggested: