Nathan and I have discussed what it might be like when we start getting enough reviews of the book that there are some bad ones. We know it will happen. Not everyone will like it, and some will not want us to succeed. So it will happen, and we understand bad press is as much a part of the process as positive press, even if it’s an unpleasant ride.
He tells a story of his first bad review, when one of his musicals was performed by only high school kids and the guy writing the review was the sportscaster. It was terrible! It really crushed some of the kids, and the guy obviously didn’t understand the musical or what they were trying to do, and it was just scathing.
This week it happened, finally, to get me a little bruised and warmed up for the process. We got a major review, one of the ones that publishers and library book buyers will read, and it was mostly good. Mostly. Enough that we can pull excerpts from it and use it on the cover for the next edition.
But it also pointed out two weaknesses with our book: that the time jumps are difficult, and that we skirt over my background before I got baptized. We agree with these two pieces as being the weakest parts of the book, and already knew that. But for time, and structure, and content editing, and tightness of the storytelling, we did the best we could.
The problem with the review, though, wasn’t the content. It was how poorly it was written! There were names wrong and things not capitalized and grammatical errors that were just embarrassing. We were shocked, and I couldn’t believe that a legit reviewer so well-known would want it out in public. It was like an elementary school student wrote it. It was really terrible! I did go ahead and contact them to correct name spellings and capitalization errors, which took some ovarios to do, but they agreed since I wasn’t arguing for content changes. Even after that editing, though, they did not correct their other grammar problems or the floating semi-colons. Bizarre.
It was like they didn’t think our book was important enough to be worth reviewing well.
That’s the part that stung, that they didn’t even try.
But then, by the end of the week, the book was nominated for five awards – including Book of the Year – so that’s something, even with all its first edition mistakes.
The book is not me, though, only our story.
And the book is not now, but only a snapshot of what seems like lifetimes ago.
It is our hard work, however, and it is a seed for growing financial support for our family, and we want it to do well. We need it to do well.
We need it to do well so that patient care improves for these little ones.
This week was our first public appearance for the book, after being invited through Daybreak to come speak to Broken Arrow public schools at teacher professional development day. So many came that we had to present twice, and we were so grateful for those who bought the book after our lecture! I was so nervous, but just focused on what I knew: they were teachers, and I have that story about the day all our children got suspended on the same day. So I told that story, and then used stats about foster children and clinical helps for the classroom to round out the presentation. The teachers were amazing, and it was one of the best presentation discussions I have had at any workshop. I was really impressed by them, and so very much appreciated their support.
Last night was my first overnight shift as the hospital chaplain since starting my residency, and it all went well. I really love this work so much, and it was good to be “home” in the rhythm and experience of it. I knew I had enjoyed it, but forgot how much I really love it. It is maybe the most integrated experience of work I have ever felt, this being a chaplain.
I prayed, and I sang, and I visited. I met with patients and I met with families. I checked on waiting rooms and on people awaiting surgery. I responded to pages, and code blues, and requests for Bibles or Advanced Directives or just someone to talk to in the quiet of the night. It was a long night, but beautiful work the Spirit did, and slowly I hand over the hospital back to its staff as the sun begins to peek over the horizon.
Here is my chapel, where I will preach on Sundays when it is my turn in the rotation for the next year: