Most of us don't give it a second thought when we sit down with a book. All we know is that we're ready to dive in and enjoy the adventure that awaits us between the covers of that book. But it's on the mind of every author who's ever put pen to paper - 'Where do I begin?'
I've always envied writers who say they start at Chapter One when they write. I imagine them sitting there at their keyboard [or typewriter, depending on how far back I go], poised for action with their tea at their side (or whiskey if it's Hemingway), looking quite refined and ready for the adventure at hand to flow through their fingertips and onto the page.
Alas, that has not been my experience. At all. Well, until recently...
The process of writing an epic usually doesn't start out that way. It begins simply as an idea niggling around in the back of your head. You let it sit there awhile - it's not hurting anybody, not eating anything, and rarely takes up much processing space in your brain. But it's when your subconscious takes hold of it that you're in trouble. Disguised as your inner five-year old, your subconscious invites that idea out to play (often while you sleep), entertains it for awhile, even has that fanciful 'what if?' conversation that can run to the far reaches of the universe.
My inner five-year old is not the most organized child around, but I wouldn't have her any other way. Her ideas come at me fast, often in the middle of the night, and always completely out of order. I write in chunks, building the story totally out of order, filling in the pot holes in the editing process. It's sheer delight watching the story unfold much as a reader would, but in the most frenzied of fashion.
My latest work, The EPIC Trailguide: Exploring Everyday Pathways In Christ is no different. The idea showed up, but I dismissed it out of hand. 2020 was particularly hard on me in terms of my writing, to the point that I never thought I'd write another book again. I just couldn't bring myself to sit down and write. Suffice it to say that I am living proof that our God is the God of second chances.
The idea persisted, niggling around in the back of my head. Pastor Tammy and I had been working on the design for the pathways spiritual growth model she wants to initiate, and I began to play with the graphics. It was fun to work with, and I was immediately drawn in. But it was when I began to have thoughts about the theme of it that the ideas began to flow.
"You know what you need to go with this?" inquired my inner five-year old. "A book! You need a book."
So I show up to staff meeting after a conversation with Tammy about "What if EPIC means Everyday Pathways In Christ?" and say, "Hey, I think I'm supposed to write a book. You know, like a thirty day devotional."
"Well, that sounds great!" Pastor Tammy said. "Can you make it forty?"
"Days?" I asked. "Forty days?"
"I see where she's going with this," Pastor Matt observed.
"Lent," I acknowledged. "Ok, sure. Forty."
I left the office that day thinking, Where in the world am I gonna come up with forty ideas for forty days?! And time? When am I gonna find the time?!
That night after putzing around on Facebook (can be read Julie was wasting time) I fell asleep with my iPad on the nightstand. I awoke at midnight to the excited incessant chattering in my brain, and within forty-five minutes I had forty chapter ideas written down. Good thing, because if it comes to me in the middle of the night and I don't write it down - POOF! It's gone.
Ideas - check! Now, time...time....where in the world do I find the time...
Two days later, Bob came down with COVID and I'm stuck at home on quarantine. Yep, I'm healthy as a horse and nowhere to go.
Haha, God...I see what you did there!
By Saturday I thought, Ok, let's set up the format for printing and see what we've got. It went pretty smooth, and on the first day I had the bones in place. Sunday brought forty chapter titles to the page, formatting for scripture and first paragraph. Not bad. Felt like I got something done. Ok, sure. What's next, God?
Monday - ten chapters. Tuesday - ten chapters. By Wednesday, I was beginning to wonder if I'd lost my mind. It was as though the information was being downloaded to my brain and flowing out of me - through me - onto the page. A truly humbling experience.
I reached out to Pastor Tammy for scripture to save some time, giving her the chapter titles for reference. Of course, nearly all of them were a perfect fit. By Thursday my pace had slowed down, garnering only four chapters. With thirty-two chapters done, I hit the wall. I was tired of writing. Then, God whispered, Come on, we're almost done...
I finished the first draft on the eighth day and spent the next two weeks editing with my friend and editor, the amazing Sally T. Pastor Tammy was in on the process, too, and soon the final formatting was in place for both Kindle and print versions. As I write this, the physical books are set to arrive today - in plenty of time for EPIC Sunday.
The EPIC Trailguide is a tool for you as you prepare for your journey on these Everyday Pathways In Christ that await you. It is a journey of self-discovery, of remembering who you are. This book was written by God to empower you to become the hero at the heart of your Epic story. Each of our lives have parallels with every epic tale ever written, and we've spelled that out in this devotional using epic examples from literature and movies, such as The Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, The Matrix, The Princess Bride, and more. Sure, not all of the days' entries will apply to you, but that's okay. Once you adjust your lenses and actually see yourself as the hero of your Epic, everything shifts.
You, my friend, are poised for greatness. Your Epic is a chapter in the greatest Epic adventure ever, written by God Himself.
Take the next forty days and step into your power. Become the hero God created you to be.
So blessed to be on this journey with you!