One of the jobs that I enjoyed the most before I became an entrepreneur was working as a book editor for a small publishing company in Northern Virginia. What I appreciated most during my five years in that position was that my former boss had an uncanny knack for placing the right author with the right editor. One of my fellow editors was great with slicing a 100,000-word manuscript down to a 50,000-word book and another colleague was good with dealing with high-profile, ego-driven experts. My specialty? The new author.
Out of the all the books I edited during my tenure, most of my authors were nervous Nellys who had never published before and were still agonizing over each and every word. There was the author who nearly had a nervous breakdown about her table of contents. There was another who wrote me a two-page e-mail about her sleepless night because she hated our proposed book title. There was yet another who went toe to toe with me about keeping a horrible analogy about using a gun to strike a educational target right after the Virginia Tech shooting (after two e-mails and a tense phone call, I let her win). And my favorite, was the author who called every other Tuesday to check on the progress of her book. There were some days where I felt more like a book therapist than a book editor.
During my first two years, I got annoyed and sometimes felt insulted that these new authors didn’t trust me to deliver a high-quality product. But somewhere around Year 3 in this position, I took the questioning less personally because I realized that I knew something that they didn’t: no matter how much they worried, feared, fretted, or needed to revise Chapter 5 (for the third time!), it was my JOB and my PASSION to deliver a polished and professional product, and there was NO WAY that I was going to let them or my company down.
I sometimes imagine that God sits on the sidelines of heaven shaking his head and looking at us trying to desperately to rewrite, revise, and edit our own stories. God be trying to move us on to Chapter 10 and we’re somewhere stuck in Chapter 5 spinning our heads about why he or she wasn’t the one. God’s expert red pen took out those dangling modifiers who showed up as unnecessary, draining, and life-sucking friends and lovers and we still think that we need them for validation. God re-ordered your table of contents and you fight bitterly with him because you’re not where you think you ought to be by now.
For those of you wresting with the pages of your life, if I can be so bold as to speak for God to your heart, I’ll tell you what I used to tell my authors:
SURRENDER TO YOUR EDITOR
There’s NO GOOD thing that God wants to withhold from you. He knows every plot twist, every character, and each scene in the book of your life. He’s good at turning troubling question marks into triumphant periods. He already knew that your downsizing from your job in Chapter 2009 would propel you to be an entrepreneur in Chapter 2012. He purposefully wrote in that heartbreak in Chapter 2005 so you could be ready for the love of your life in Chapter 2015.
We don’t know if we’ll be blessed to see the end of Chapter 2015. We can’t predict whether a current boo will be here for just one pivotal plot point or a lifetime. All we can do is surrender to God’s will and trust that when He closes the book of our lives and places our story in the eternal library in Heaven that the pages of our lives will be like a New York Times Bestseller: well-loved, well-respected, and cherished throughout the ages.
By the end of Year 5 as a book editor, I had become a pro at dealing with new authors. Instead of focusing on their nervous unknowing at the beginning of the journey, I knew that nine months later I would have an author screaming and crying in my ear as she opened her first box of books and saw her name in print for the first time; or have an ecstatic author tell me to send all of his complimentary copies to his mother so she could pass them out to the people in his hometown; or have my Tuesday caller completely surprise and humble me with the most exquisite box of chocolate and a copy of her children’s favorite book.
I used to joke with all of my authors that I was the Vidal Sasson of Editing and I would say to them, “If your book doesn’t look good, than I don’t look good.” And as you proclaim your faith in God in 2015, know that if you can’t claim a testimony at the end of this chapter, then He doesn’t look good. Unlike the world of publishing, we have no idea whether our current chapter will take nine months or nine years. But when we surrender our books to the ultimate editor, we have no choice but to win.