Ten years ago today, my first child — only six days old — was sleeping soundly, as was my wife. I was exhausted too, but in the stupor of exhaustion, I decided to start a blog. My baby girl inspired my first blog post: “Six days into fatherhood, my baby teaches me a lesson about marriage.” And in the days, months, and years that followed, I continued sharing stories about discovering God in everyday life. Now, after 575 blog posts, essays, and/or online articles (plus a book!), I’m still writing.
Most people haven’t had the opportunity to work with the book publishing industry and they don’t know how it works. I’m going to let you in on a secret: There’s a really, really important rule that all first-time authors have to live by (if they want to write another book).
Today, I was in the car with my wife, Raquel, and the kids when she pulled out a package that had just arrived. “Go ahead and open it,” I said, knowing what it was. Raquel tore off the top of the envelope and pulled out the hardbound copy of Confessions of a Happily Married Man: Finding God in the Messiness of Marriage, the book I’ve been working on for over a year and a half. We came to a stoplight and Raquel handed it to me. I took a deep breath and opened the book, flipping the pages and watching the words…
For the first few years I wrote my blog, it was the number one source of stress in my life — more than moving to a new state, having two kids, starting a new job, or getting diagnosed with an incurable condition.
I have a friend who was once known for her strength, and now she’s becoming known for her weakness. Rachel Wilhelm, a popular guest writer here, has felt her body break down over the last year. The only diagnosis doctors can offer is fibromyalgia, a mystery illness known for pain, acute weakness, and frequent sleep disturbance. Yet somehow in the midst of it, God has taken Rachel’s weakness and made something strong out of it. Here’s her story, in her own words:
It’s nice to look back on 2016 and see what was interesting to the people who read my blog. Even after writing the blog for seven years, I can never guess what people are going to like.
This past week, I was sitting in a ballroom of a hotel with other members of the Evangelical Press Association as they were giving out awards in various writing and design categories. I knew that “Where Have All the Beautiful Women Gone?“, which I wrote for Boundless, had been nominated in the category of medium feature length article. But I didn’t have high hopes for it, especially after they announced the articles that received fifth through second places. To my great surprise, however, they named it as the top prize winner in the category.
I had no idea what I was signing up for when I began blogging. I thought you just sat down, wrote several amazing posts, and then six months and ten thousand followers later, you began negotiating a book deal. Right.
Whenever I visited my Aunt Susan as a kid, I begged her to let me borrow her camcorder so I could produce “TV shows.” A lot of my productions were my best imitation of NBC’s Today Show. And during the show, I did things like interview my brother Caleb about the Sears catalog, interview my cousin about the artwork on the wall, or engage in aimless monologues.
About once a week, I get the same question about my writing: “Where do you find the time to do it so much?” I can tell you this: it ain’t easy.
On Jan. 8, 2010, I sat down and wrote my first post over at my personal blog, wondering if it might go viral. It did not, but I was undeterred. I figured it would just take some time — you know, six months or so — before the world recognized my talent. I would become a blogging rock star and be on my way to a book deal. Or not.
Five years ago today, I published my first blog post on a rinky-dink website I called Spiritual Klutz. That post was a little essay called “Fatherhood Hits Me Upside the Head,” which I managed to write in spite of the grogginess and exhaustion of being a new dad. In the 1,825 days that have passed since then, I’ve posted hundreds of blog posts, Facebook status updates on my page, and a few tweets; and I’ve learned some valuable lessons in the process. Here are five of them that I’m happy to share with my fellow bloggers: