Do or Die by December 15

December 15 is my deadline for my book manuscript to be submitted to Wipf and Stock. This is a deadline I have set for myself. My publisher tells me they have a lot of flexibility. But I cannot handle the flexibility. I will keep pushing the deadline back. So it is time to declare my deadline to the world and let the fear of publish shame motivate me to finish this thing. 

This book should have been easy. It was based on my dissertation. But like many people who have written dissertations, I have gone back and wondered how I ever passed in the first place. There is so much to fix. So much to correct. The advice I kept getting was, “The dissertation is not the book.” In other words, a good dissertation is a done dissertation. Take time later to make it the book you want it to be. But that works for me about as well as cutting my own hair. I struggle to put the clippers down and say, “Good enough.” I keep wanting to fix thing.

Scrivener CollectionsI did have everything in a nice Word doc. My new strategy has involved putting that stuff into Scrivener and breaking it into more manageable units. Then when I am done with my units, I will compile them, insert the footnotes, and ask friends, colleagues, and mentors to rip them to shreds. To make that happen, realistically, I need to have the entire draft “done” in about a month.

The thing is that I really want to move on to the next book. I have a few ideas that I have been sitting on. I went to Vanderbilt with the intention of becoming a public theologian. I want to write for a wider audience. That has been another one of my problems with the current manuscript, taking the assumptions my dissertation made about my readers and revising them for a new audience.

For me, announcing my deadline of December 15 is a little like tweeting a picture of myself in my underwear. I feel exposed. But I kind of need that right now. Women are doing that sort of thing more often to overcome shame they feel about their bodies. I am doing that sort of thing to overcome my own fears. I am afraid that the publisher will come back and tell me the book sucks and decide not to print it. I am afraid that it will get printed and torn apart by critics. I am afraid that it will get printed and nobody will bother to read it at all. I rarely have a problem speaking in front of an audience. That is easy for me. Success in front of an audience is as much about cadence and alliteration as it is the strength of whatever one is saying on its own. I do not have those sorts of advantages when I put something to paper. I cannot change my voice, insert a pause at just the right moment, and alliteration in text is just too obvious and obnoxious.

Orthodoxy without Empire. That is the title. Coming to you sometime in 2017, or coming to you not at all.


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