As many of you know, I have been co-writing a book for the past year. I am very excited to let you know that it will soon be going to the printers!
The book is called 101 Orthodox Saints and is in the character encyclopedia format. It will be visually appealing with graphics, maps, charts, and illustrations, as well as informational with facts and details about the saints’ lives. I am so excited for its release in April (Lord willing)!
I will definitely be letting you know more about the book as we draw nearer to its publication date, but in the meantime I was reflecting on what I have learned through this process of writing a book. Here are my biggest takeaways:
5 Things I Learned While Writing a Book
1. Books Take a LONG Time to Write
My friend and co-author Alexandra texted me with the basic idea of our book almost two years ago. By the time we completed the book proposal, signed our contracts, did the hard work of researching and writing, edited and approved edits, and watched in eager anticipation to see the illustrations and graphics–nearly two years had passed.
Alexandra had a baby and lost her mother. I moved across the country and watched with tear-filled eyes as my husband was ordained to the priesthood. Life happened and happened quickly.
And the book was still there. Slowly unfolding from an idea to a physical manifestation of months of love, work, and faith.
2. Writing a Book is a Collaborative Process
If you had asked me to visualize the writing process a few years ago, I would have conjured up an image of a diligent author sitting at a desk (ideally in a cabin in the woods that looked out over a tranquil lake). Alone with her thoughts and her words.
However, I have learned that writing is in fact a group effort, a team accomplishment. This is obviously true when you have a co-author. There are also editors, copy editors, and (in our case) illustrators and graphic designers.
In fact, we created a spreadsheet to help us keep track of all the moving parts. Since we were writing about 101 saints, each saint had his or her own row in the spreadsheet. That saint’s profile was written by one of the authors, edited by the other, edited by our book editor, sent back to us for approval, edited by the copy editor, brought to life by the illustrator, and made visually appealing on the page by the graphic designer. We had to check off 7 different steps overseen by 7 different people for EACH saint’s profile. Talk about collaboration!
3. Writing a Book is a Solitary Process
At the same time, writing a book is a solitary process. No one could make me do the hard work of sitting down (alas, not in a cabin, but often in my favorite chair in the living room) and researching and writing.
I had to create self-imposed deadlines to ensure that I wrote each week. I went to the Hellenic College Holy Cross Library and scanned hundreds of pages of hagiography found in old books. I watched my kids play on the playground while working on my laptop. There were hours upon hours of deep work that needed to be done alone.
4. Expect to Be Changed
I did not expect to be changed as a result of writing a book. However, God used this project to transform my life. As I researched saints, both familiar and unfamiliar to me, I was inspired and humbled.
I saw how God has been glorified in the lives of his holy ones. I saw the way that He used each one’s talents and gifts for His glory–no one the same, but instead a diverse bouquet that combines to form a sweet-smelling sacrifice.
I was challenged to look at my own life to see if it followed the example of these saints. I developed relationships with some of the saints and now regularly ask for their intercessions. I grew.
5. Expect to Stay the Same
On the other hand, I was also the same person I had always been:
The person who struggles to get started when I am afraid of failing.
The person who has responsibilities as a wife, mother, and teacher that don’t magically disappear when a writing deadline approaches.
The person who fears that this sentence, this paragraph will be the one that lets people know I have been pretending the whole time–that I am not really a writer.
The person who sins and is impatient with her family, even while writing a book about saints who show overwhelming, sacrificial love to others.
The person who forgets to pray at night, even while researching saints whose lives are completely devoted to the prayer of the heart.
I am still me–albeit a me who is being transformed through the power of God into his likeness.
And, so, I will continue writing, praying that it will bring glory to God, who is wondrous among His saints.
What would you like to know about writing a book or about 101 Orthodox Saints?