Since I started this blog a few years ago, I’ve written a lot about my journey with Our Company of Fools. So, in anticipation of the book’s release, I thought it would be fun to take a trip down memory lane and revisit some of the highlights. Looking back at my posts about Fools, I notice two major themes: things that I’ve learned from writing Fools, and the struggles I’ve had during the editing process over the past two years. Here are some of my favorite posts featuring Our Company of Fools:
“Write Like No One’s Reading” is one of the first posts to mention Our Company of Fools. In it, I talk about one of the writing-related lessons Fools taught me: write for yourself first. Fools was the first book I wrote without intending to share it with anyone. One of the major reasons I love the book so much, I think, is because I truly did write it free from the burden of others’ expectations.
I wrote “Why Life Makes Us Stronger Writers” during a very low point in my life. This post captures so beautifully how Our Company of Fools forever shaped the scope of my writing and expresses why this book means so much to me. Many of the sentiments I have about the book are true even two years later.
“Outlining, Writing, and the Author of Everything” and “Editing and the Discipline of the Lord” are two posts in my series about Christians and the Creative Process I wrote in early 2019, which is why I group them together. Both talk some about my writing/editing process for Our Company of Fools, as well as how specific aspects of the writing process and the Christian life intersect. As I prepare to release Fools into the world, I am especially encouraged by what I voiced in “Outlining” – Fools will never be perfect. While in the post I use that example in contrast to the perfection of God and His design, I take additional comfort today in the notion that my book doesn’t need to be fully “perfect” to be “ready” for publication.
To transition away from the life lessons of Our Company of Fools and into my tumultuous editing struggles of the past couple of years, in “Happy 3rd Birthday, Our Company of Fools” I provide a mostly positive account of my creative process with the book up to that point. There’s also a hint of the beginning struggles when I point out that the book has been all-consuming in my writing time since its inception. Rereading the post as I prepare to publish, I also find it particularly significant that I labeled it as the book I must publish. Self-publishing was not the route I was considering at that time. Interesting how things change and how God sometimes fulfills our desires through unexpected ways.
Fast-forward to the following year: “I’m Still a Writer” discusses the big tension with Our Company of Fools that I’d wrestled with while trying to edit it (a struggle that ended up continuing until May of this year). Looking back at this post—which was published in January of this year—I have to laugh at how my dreams and aspirations don’t often look like what I’d expect. I talk about publication and my excitement for what 2020 held for me as a writer. Even at that point, eleven months ago, I wasn’t considering self-publishing as an option.
Finally, there’s a single paragraph from my “May 2020 Writing Update” that completes the narrative of Our Company of Fools on the blog so far:
I should start by saying that I did not meet my April goal of editing Our Company of Fools. However, this was not because of time constraints or a lack of effort—it was because of my own choice. As I read through [Fools] again, I found that I wasn’t in love with it anymore. It had so far departed from what resonated with me, and I’m not sure if it’s because I tried to make it more relatable to a wider audience or if it’s just because I’ve grown up since I wrote it. Whatever the reason is, I’ve shelved it for now. It’s a very polished book, but I don’t want to fight for it to get published if I’m not at least liking the finished product.
These words voice what was the heart of my struggle with Fools and mark the beginning of my journey into self-publishing it. Wrestling with that realization that I didn’t like the book anymore made me realize where I went wrong. In June, I decided to try a new direction that would take considerable work for Fools: backtrack drafts. Essentially, I committed to an eighth draft that amounted to a fusion of drafts five and seven. I kept the updated, polished prose and a few new scenes from draft seven, but revived the book with the purer soul of the story and character preserved in draft five. As I worked on this task in August, I started to wonder: “Why not self-publish?” I considered. I prayed. And here we are.
It’s just as frightening as I expected, but I truly do see the Lord’s work in my life and through my writing when I look back. I can’t wait to see where Our Company of Fools and my writing go from here.