Today is the day I have anticipated for more than a year. This morning I delivered to the publisher the manuscript for Lit! A Christian Guide to Reading Books. The book is slated for a September 2011 release, plenty of time to learn patience and contentment from my friends.
One great benefit of writing a book is seeing my need for others. And the Lord surrounded me with a strong team of counselors along the way. As I wrote the acknowledgments for the book I was overwhelmed by all the names of generous friends who invested their time in my book over the past year.
Getting the book written has required a team of friends and scholars. The scholars that helped out include Leland Ryken, Gene Fant, Stephen Dempster, and Carl Trueman. Each of these men were accessible to answer questions. A couple of these guys edited full chapters for me. Fant took the time to edit the entire manuscript at an early stage and provided much writing guidance as a bonus (motivated by pity, I wonder?). Whatever the motive, these guys came through in a big way and I thank God for them.
Many friends also helped make this possible. The book was Justin Taylor’s idea to begin with. His early help writing was critically important. Justin is wise and creative, and any wise and creative bits in the book were likely his handiwork (the joke in chapter 11 about Al Gore is his). Likewise I’m thankful for Randy Alcorn. Last summer he encouraged me to write, and that encouragement—coming from him!—was a source of confirmation from the Lord. His role in the life of this book project goes a lot deeper than he is aware of.
Of course Tom Bombadil comes to mind as another faithful comrade (“Tom Bombadil” being the loose fit blog alias he wears over his superhero tights). Tom is a likeminded friend who helped out at every step of the way, cheering me on with encouragement, and frequently pleading my cause before the Throne of Grace. He was a huge help. And Jon Smith (real name, no tights) comes to mind. Although he didn’t know it at the time, his early encouragements last summer about my series of blog posts on reading were instrumental in my decision to write the book. Jon works with college students and he read and edited the manuscript from that perspective—very helpful!
And so many other friends helped out, Josh Deckard, Mark Fedeli and Andrew Mahr should be mentioned specifically. Thank you, men! I was reminded at many times that this book would not be possible without two pastors in my life, Patrick Abendroth and Rick Gamache. I love these men and will be forever indebted to them for how they helped me develop as a reader, through their words and through their example. So many other people support me.
Of course my friend C.J. played a major role. He made it possible for me to enjoy three writing retreats in beautiful locations (Orlando, Annapolis, and Cape Cod). Since the book was researched was written in my free time (mornings, evenings, days off, vacations), having the freedom to get away and to lock myself in a room and write for 14 hours each day was a great gift and those retreats proved to be critical in the development of this project.
But of course when I talk about my editors and my support, no one surpasses my wife. Karalee first became my editor, then my friend, and now my wife, and she remains my best friend and my most loyal editor. Not only is she quite a lot smarter than I am, but God has given her a tenacious capacity for large workloads. The Lord knew I would need a lot of help ed!t!ng, and he blessed me with a woman I love and a woman who can handle a red pen in the free moments between kids, laundry, and cooking. I don’t know how she does it, I really don’t.
So thanks to all of you: those named, those pseudo-named, and those left unnamed. I could not have written this book without you. Yes, that includes you. Your loyal blog readership is an encouragement to me and—quite truthfully—is probably one of the important factors that landed me a book contract in the first place. I am humbled and honored that you read, and thankful for your partnership. I pray that the labors of this past year will prove effective in encouraging Christians to read great books. And thanks for putting up with this blog, which has become predictably random, sometimes brusque, and always disordered. I plan to return to writing more essays, posting more book reviews, and snapping more photographs again soon.