Hiding Behind the Book


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Two weeks ago, I was at the Momentum Youth Conference with a dozen youth. This year’s theme was “I Am Second,” or to put it in the words of John the Baptist, “He must become greater; I must become less” (John 3:30).

I have at least one selfish way I wish I could put this into effect. Sometimes, I wish I could remove my name from my works.

I find it difficult to promote my books directly. While I truly believe them to be good stories, I dislike the fact that when I sell a story, I am also compelled to sell myself.

Yes, I know that’s the way things work nowadays. You have to build your tribe. You have to create a presence. There are something like 1.26 billion books published in a year, and you can’t rely on the book selling itself. I understand that.

But I can wholeheartedly recommend The Illustrated Man or The Wheel of Time or Orthodoxy or The Brothers Karamazov to people who ask me what they should read. I have connected with these books on my own and I can freely, even energetically, encourage others to read them.

But how can I do that with my own book? How do you relate to your own work in that disconnected way? I’m not sure you can ever truly read a book you’ve written.

If there’s anything good in The Unremarkable Squire, I don’t want it to hinge on me being clever. As I mentioned in an earlier post, when I look back on things I’ve written, I’m usually impressed they’ve come out so well. The words and characters surprise me. The rough draft is a magic trick I perform without quite knowing the secret. By this I mean to say the book is something separate from myself. It has its own life. And that’s how I want to present it.

I’d much rather you’d come to know Obed, the namesake squire, than me. Because the book’s about him.

And, honestly, he’s a pretty interesting young man.

(Want to get to know him? Well, there’s this contest to win a free copy of the novel. Why not enter?)

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