IVP - Strangely Dim - Hug an Author Day

September 12, 2012

Hug an Author Day

By David A. Zimmerman

I should really probably start keeping a gratitude journal. I think I learned about such things from Oprah--indirectly, of course, via my wife. Write down what you're thankful for in life on a regular basis, and magically your thoughts will be transformed from paranoia and bitterness to gladness and a general openness to the world. In the third millennium of the church, it seems, God uses gratitude journals as much as anything to take people's hearts of stone and turn them into hearts of flesh.

I could list any number of reasons I need to start keeping a gratitude journal. An ingratitude journal would be easier for me, quite frankly; I've been called Eeyore by more than one person in my life. But to preface my gratitude journal with a list of laments seems somehow counterproductive. Light a candle, they say, and there will be little darkness left to curse. So I'll just start with gratitude, and in so doing I'll start with authors.

Ah, authors. They are the wingnuts that hold the whole publishing enterprise together. I publish people, not books, I regularly remind myself, because books don't wish me happy birthday on my birthday or graciously include me in their acknowledgments even after I've dropped the ball more than once on their precious project. Authors do that. 

Before there is a book, there is an author. Books are not an end in and of themselves but a means to both the author's and the publisher's end: in IVP's case, to equip and encourage people to follow Jesus as Savior and Lord in all of life. That's a lofty ambition, and you don't get there just by assembling random words on a page and mass-producing it; you need authors with hearts, souls, minds and strengths to put forward such audacious ideas and give them life. I appreciate book authors for that.

I appreciate book authors because unlike communicators who look directly into the eyes of their audience or who write with the assurance of a subscription base putting eyes on their words, or who have access to analytics that help them gauge and react quickly to reader response, book authors publish into a void and wait--sometimes months and even years--to learn the impact of their words. As glamorous as being an author appears, in many ways it's actually quite thankless.

Worse than thankless, sometimes being a book author seems to be more trouble than it's worth. Once a book is out, its author has to cash in favors, chase an audience, move units, all in coordination with a publishing house biting its nails and tapping its feet to see if the potential audience takes the bait. Even more pressure descends on the self-published author, who faces the same demand with ewer resources (and less moral support) to draw from in their effort to get their message out. Authors wait anxiously for the first and then the next review, and thanks to an increasingly uncivil and combative cultural context, it's reasonable to expect as many negative reviews as positive.

roosevelt.jpg

And then there's the conventional wisdom that assumes the last thing anyone wants to do is to read a book. Books are too long, too wordy, too linear, too monochrome, too, too, too. Some ideas can't be crystallized into a sound bite or conveyed in an image--everyone knows that--and yet the notion of giving an idea adequate space to make its case is considered among many as quaint at best, stupid at worst. "Great minds discuss ideas," Eleanor Roosevelt said, and yet book-length attempts to discuss ideas in a format that allows them to be considered in full scope are out of vogue. It's hard out there being an author, I tell you.

Hey, look at that. My gratitude journal has become a list of laments. I really am quite good at that, aren't I? OK, so maybe instead of a gratitude journal, I'll just start a new tradition: Hug an Author Day.

Seriously, given the portrait I've painted above, don't you think an author could use a hug? So let's do it. Let's say September 15. Why not? Don't be creepy or anything--a side hug counts as a hug in my book. But let the authors you know know that you love them, that you get that it's hard, that you still appreciate the hard work of giving an idea its due. Give them a hug, people!

Or, better yet, buy their book and read it.

***

So, which author would you like to give a hug on Hug an Author Day?

Posted by Dave Zimmerman at September 12, 2012 12:23 PM Bookmark and Share

Comments

I love this! Thanks for getting it and saying it so well, Dave.

Comment by: Amy Simpson at September 12, 2012 1:15 PM

If I saw one of these authors on September 15 I would definitely hug them:
*Lisa McMinn, whose book The Contented Soul I return to again and again (various chapters as needed)
*Dale and Sandy Larsen, for all their hard work on the LifeGuide in Depth series (coming in spring 2013!!)
*Phyllis Le Peau, partly because you can't see her and not get/give a hug and partly because of her and Andy Le Peau's work on A Deeper Look at James (also in the LifeGuide in Depth series). I would hug Andy too--but "Hug a Member of Your Executive Leadership Team" needs its own day, I think!

Comment by: Lisa at September 13, 2012 1:25 PM

Two hugs today:

The first hug is for Jane Elizabeth Hart for her book Spiritual Power Tools: Support for Your Soul, the best tools for working through life issues, from the everyday challenges to the more difficult situations. As a therapist, I use her tools with my clients constantly. For more information, download a free chapter at http://www.spiritualpowertoolssupport.com
*H U G!*

The second hug is for Jennifer McIlwee Myers, "Aspie At Large" for the BEST information on loving and supporting those on the autism spectrum. Find her on Amazon (How to Teach Life Skills to Kids with Autism or Asperger's, Asperger's for Girls), or subscribe to her whimsical and informative Facebook posts: https://www.facebook.com/AspieAtLarge
*H U G!*

Thanks, David, for the opportunity to give a shout out to awesome authors who are a blessing to all of humanity!

Comment by: Lynn Barrette, LCSW at September 15, 2012 11:10 PM

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Behind the Strangeness

Lisa Rieck is a reader and writer who likes to discuss good ideas over hot drinks and gets inspired by the sky. She takes in all kinds of good ideas as a proofreader for InterVarsity Press.

David A. Zimmerman is an editor for Likewise Books and a columnist for Burnside Writers Collective. He's written three books, most recently The Parable of the Unexpected Guest. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/unexpguest. Find his personal blog at loud-time.com.

Suanne Camfield is a publicist for InterVarsity Press and a freelance writer. She floats ungracefully between work, parenting and writing, and (much to her dismay) finds it impossible to read on a treadmill. She is a member of the Redbud Writers Guild and blogs at The Rough Cut.

Likewise Books from InterVarsity Press explore a thoughtful, active faith lived out in real time in the midst of an emerging culture.

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