I was a little put off when one of my friends peered at me suspiciously over the dark frames of his hipster glasses and commented, “YOU are writing a book about being spiritually nomadic?” Later that evening I thought his disbelief seemed warranted when I had a blow up at my kids over something extremely trivial.
I finished my upcoming book (Holy Nomad, September 2012 release) months ago. Last night I pulled out an old draft and was reading through the early version of one of my favorite chapters. Several lines into the first page I began togaze at my writing with the same misgivings my friend had leveled at me in our conversation. There were some good sentences, but on the whole, the passage wascoarse around the edges and undesirable to read.
My favorite book by Jack Kerouac is titled On the Road. It is several hundred pages of burning beauty and madness written by an author whose drive to understand the world through lenses of faith is often misrepresented and misunderstood. Kerouac, who typed a hundred words a minute and wrote out the entire novel on one long scroll, once told a reporter he completed the book in three weeks.
We know now that he only hammered out the rough draft of his novel in those three weeks. The iconic story of his furious quest for spirituality and meaning actually took ten long years of revision and editing. I can guess it was his desire to prop up the “bigger than life” version of a legendary persona that led him to flaunt thetale of the three weeks. I was reminded of this when I watched a music documentary where Bono sat in a studio with producer Daniel Lanois and visably cringedwhile they listened to early takes of The Joshua Tree.
Anythingworth-while takes some time… and that seems to be a problem with me – especiallyin my spiritual life.
I am much more comfortable with everyone believing that I NEVER lose my cool with my kids. I want my friends to say, “You are JUST THE GUY to write about being spiritually nomadic.” Sometimes I will do and say whatever it takes to achieve that type of status — to present myself as a “finished copy.”
When we really look at ourselves and the folks around us, it becomes pretty obvious we all do the same thing: at work, among friends, and around the neighborhood… We don’t want to be viewed as a “work-in-process.” We long forpeople tobelieve we have it all together — we are ready for the shelf!
I could identify with Bono’s look of disgust about early tracks of his famous album, because I get that same sensation about myself at times. Maybe we are too hard on ourselves. I believe these types of “finished copy expectations” rob us of our joy.
That way of living simply isn’t honest. It discounts the truth that there is an Author/Producer/Director (a little more gifted than Kerouac or Lanois) at work right here inside our hearts… shaping, cutting, and crafting our story into something resplendant.
I think we can probably find a little joy and freedom by admitting we are like those early versions of any book (or record) – with some great lines andshimmering parts — but certainly a whole lot ofjagged edges.
I am discovering a liberatingamount of forgiveness in the idea that we are all kind of in the editing process…
I am finding a good measure of grace in the truth that I really am a rough draft…