I spent the morning at Burton Adventist Academy in Arlington, Texas, where I talked with senior and junior high school students about newswriting and writing opinion articles. I had a great time, and I hope they did too. While I was getting ready for class to start, I was approached by the sixth grade teacher, who told me that he and his class had just finished reading, “If Tomorrow Comes,” the end-time novel that I wrote and got published back in 2001. Would I come and visit his class?
Like pretty much all of my writing projects, ITC was a labor of love. I had something to say, and felt like I did a decent job of it. But after it came out, the reality sank in that it wouldn’t be as well received as I would have liked. After about three years on the market, Pacific Press informed me that they were going to take it out of print.
I don’t blame them, mostly. It sold less than 2,000 copies. Part of it was my fault; I saw myself as the author and not the promoter, which in this day and age every author has to be (I’d appreciate someone pulling me aside and teaching me how to do that and be that). And part of it was simply a matter of a good idea at the wrong time and the wrong market. I think.
The joy I do get from ITC is that it continues to entertain and inspire young people. Occasionally I hear from academy students–or even new students here at Southwestern–that say they just LOVED the book or that it made an impression on them. And that makes my day.
This morning, I entered the sixth grade class, and immediately felt like a rock star. One girl whispered to her friends, “I TOLD you it was him!” We then spend the next half hour talking about ITC in specific and writing in general.
Writers needs experiences like that. It reminds us why we do what we do. Mind you, I don’t have rockstar-itis. I have no need to be idolized. But when you feel that you have something to say, and you labor and sweat for a couple of years to put it all together, it feels good to hear someone say that your work meant a lot to them. Regardless of what the bean counters decide.
One of the project I am seriously considering for this summer is to activate a website. It would feature PDF access to all of my unpublished works, as well as those whose rights have reverted back to me, such as “If Tomorrow Comes.” That way, rather than getting old and dusty in some drawer somewhere, those manuscripts can be read by anyone willing to download them. They’d have to read them on a laptop, desktop, Kindle or I Pad, but those things are pretty common anymore.
Just being read is worth it.