May, 1996, Nampa, Idaho: Randy Maxwell and I, co-editors watch as the first issue of ParentTalk magazine rolls off the webpress at Pacific Press Publishing Association. The glee and awe is apparent in Randy’s eyes, but I have been here before. It’s our baby, and we are seeing it being born.
“Enjoy it,” I tell him. “Because it doesn’t get any better than this.”
For an editor, seeing your publication being printed and getting it into the hands of your readers is about as good as it gets. I loved being a magazine editor. It consisted of taking a very abstract concept and working with a team to make that idea–your idea–into something very tangible.
Fast forward almost 25 years, and here I am, a professor and an author. I still get joy out of creating, but not in the same way. What are the favorite moments of authors, and what motivates them to keep going, especially when their latest project seems to fall flat?
Well, for some, like Randy, it could be getting that first book printed and in their hands. There’s nothing like seeing your first book, words on paper, in your hands for the first time. But after having written more than 23 books (that’s how many I have had published; I won’t tell you how many I have written!), the feeling is nice, but is not as special as that first time. In addition, the digital age means that 90 percent of my books are sold electronically and never have the honor of being on paper.
Then there’s the thrill of getting that paycheck. Money makes the world go ’round, or so they say. Money, money, money. I answer questions all the time on Quora on people who assume that good writers make a TON of money. Well, sorry to break it to you. It’s hard work for not a little cash. You would make more money at a minimum wage job, I’m sorry to say. And then there’s always self-employment tax, which is always a joy.
And then there are the accolades. People shouting your name in recognition, wanting their picture taken with you, asking if they can name their firstborn after you. Sorry: most authors aren’t recognized. I’m what I call “small-town famous”. People know me on Facebook, on Twitter (a few) and in Keene, Texas. That’s about it. And there are a few elementary schools that read my books in class. I’m a rock star to them. But you can’t take that to the bank.
What I live for is what I’m experiencing right now. And that’s the birth of a perfect book. I draft up my outline for my book project before I start writing, and when I get to the point where I can visualize it in my mind, when it all comes together…THEN I know it’s time to start writing. And I love that moment. It’s the moment of creation.
You see, I’m not the type of writer who sits down to a blank piece of paper and say, “What shall I write today?” I tried that and found it a waste of my time. Instead, I need to know in advance. And I see that moment of creation as close as a person can be to God when He said, “Hey, I think I will create a world. And it will have oceans, and mountains, and rivers, and animals…and people.”
I love being creative. There was once a time when I thought the reward came in accolades, in awards, in money. But now I know the reward is in creating itself.
It’s a rush.