Sometimes I think I must be nuts. One book is about to be released, another one is attracting the interest of several publishing companies, and I’m starting to submit a third book. Any one would be stressful; I’m juggling three at the same time. I long for the day all three are published and the stress is behind me.
So why in the world did I walk away from something that might have relieved some pressure?
In the last couple weeks, two publishers offered contracts for the prisoner memoir I wrote. I declined the first one because the second one seemed like a better deal. But then the second one demanded an immediate decision. And I wasn’t ready.
The pressure was intense. I don’t just sit around waiting for these offers to roll in. I have a part-time job. And major deadlines with my YA book coming out soon. And big decisions my brother and I are facing about my elderly parents’ care. And . . . the list goes on.
At times I felt like my head was about to explode, like a teakettle blowing its steam. I couldn’t handle one more thing! What could I do to make some of this stop? On all those personality tests, I’m labeled decisive. I like the closure of having chosen. I do not enjoy the process or the feeling of limbo. I don’t want things left open to re-negotiate. I like them settled.
The more I prayed about it, the less settled I felt. God promises wisdom when we ask him, but wisdom felt elusive to me. What should I do?
If I say “yes,” won’t I be at peace? Decision made. Isn’t there wisdom in keeping the bird that’s in my hand instead of going after the two in the bush? A sure thing is much better than no thing at all. Right? It took a long time to land the publisher for my YA book. Maybe nobody else will want this one.
But the truth is, we have a story that’s generating a lot of interest. It’s a fantastic story of redemption, and it needs to get out into the world. Maybe there’s something great hidden in that bush that we just haven’t uncovered yet. So if I say “no,” something bigger and better might come along.
I might just have to wait a little longer. Aren’t I the one who waited until I was in my forties to get married? I was willing to pass up some guys (okay, my queue wasn’t crowded with potential husbands, but still) and trust God for the best. Had I changed into a wimp who wanted the easy way out?
Ultimately, I couldn’t make that kind of decision without my co-author’s input. I wrote the book but it’s his life story. I had tried to shield him from the emotional ups and downs of the business deals, reasoning that he’s been incarcerated his entire adult life. I barely understand the publishing business; how could he?
So I talked to my co-author and laid it all out objectively. I thought for sure he would want to take the bird in the hand. When I first told him about these two possibilities, he had been so excited. His story would be published, one way or another.
But Curtis’s answer demonstrated courage and trust. Curtis said he didn’t want to be rushed. He wanted to take his time to read the contract, have his lawyer friend read it, and pray. He told me to tell them, “No, thanks.” He told me to walk away.
“We can wait and trust God,” said the guy who waited in prison 29 years while he trusted God to set him free.
And so I declined the offer. As soon as I did, I realized it’s what I wanted, too. I didn’t appreciate their manipulation and unwillingness to give us more time. But I thought I would do Curtis a favor to take the deal. Instead, the minute I said, “No, thanks,” I felt relief.
I felt peace. God’s peace.
And another thing. I realized I wasn’t treating my co-author like an adult. He needed to be given a chance to make decisions for himself, and I was withholding that from him.
Scary as it is, we are stepping out in faith, trusting that God has something better for our book. I’ll keep you posted!