In once heard Anne Lamott say that the day your first book is released is a real heartbreaker of an experience: your hair still won’t lie correctly, your skin hasn’t improved, and the world just seems to continue on as it always has. When you go to the store, no one stops you for an autograph. Little has changed except that you are now an author.
What she meant was that if an author merely defines herself through her works and their relative popularity, she will find life to be pretty daunting. Any honest writer will affirm this sense of emptiness (vanity?) that comes from publishing. I have a feeling that it is one of the reasons so many authors (especially in the realm of fiction writing) succumb to chemical dependencies. The more one writes, the more vacuous the enterprise may seem. The first time you see that precious book selling for $.99 somewhere is the ultimate needle in any sort of ego-balloon. Sometimes it all seems like sand castle-building at low tide.
I am grateful for my dear friendship with George Guthrie, the eminent New Testament scholar. George just posed these thoughts, “The Spiritual Disciplines of a Book Release,” on the necessity of remaining Gospel-focused as a writer, no matter the project:
“Remember that the only reason for the book is to advance the Kingdom in the lives of individuals and churches. Glory in the gospel and not in your own ‘good news’ about your project.”
Brothers and sisters, for those of us who are blessed with the opportunity to write (or who have such a desire), in reality we have only one audience, God, and one goal, His ultimate glorification and exaltation. Everything else echoes out from this reality, but those are the only factors that truly last.