I’m sitting beside the window, sorting through a box of books, listening to Christmas carols. I turned on the music to cheer me up, thinking I could get away with it because of “Christmas in July.” The sun is streaming in as the grandfather clock ticks beside me. Time—changes—things.
The scene around me is happy. I’m looking down at book after book with my name on the cover. I should be feeling only gratitude for the miracle of this book. I keep telling myself what I should be feeling. I’m trying to push this sadness away.
When I received the news, I asked my husband, “Is it like a tree falling in the forest?”
He looked at me, confused as to how that related to my book.
It entered the world so quietly. It slipped away in even more silence. I said, “If no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound? If a book goes out of print, was it ever published at all?”
My husband reassured me. Of course it was published, but after that unexpected letter I had to sign for, after seeing those bold words OUT OF PRINT, it all seems like just a lovely dream.
I remember the first time I opened a box like this, full of copies of the picture book I prayed God would give me. My fingers shook with excitement. I gazed through a haze of joyful tears at the characters freed from the confines of my mind, brought to life by the illustrator. “Thank you, dear God. Thank you!” my heart sang. It hardly mattered that the printer had been in a rush, and many of the books had pages stuck together. (Hence the sorting, today, of this last shipment of books—I bought the remaining copies in the warehouse, so I’d have some to give away to future friends.)
Beneath a Christmas tree, holding my firstborn, I had prayed for a story. God answered with the idea for The Christmas House. I wrote it but never showed it to anyone until a year later. My sister, Amy, read my manuscript and said, “Send it out . . . tomorrow!” With her encouraging words nudging me forward, I sent it to just one publisher. Against all odds, they said YES!
I took a walk around a pond with my husband and our son after receiving the acceptance call from the publisher. I had been dreaming of being a writer since I was a girl, and my spirit was so light, I could have twirled away in the wind. “I am who I thought I was,” I marveled as I breathed in the fresh air, as I basked in God’s plan for my life.
I’m glad I didn’t know, then, that my book would live only six Christmases. I’m thankful I didn’t know that my career as a children’s author wasn’t really taking flight. It was a blessed walk around that pond, and somewhere deep inside me, in spite of the pile of rejection letters regarding my other books, in spite of the “death” of my first book, the feeling I had at that pond lives on. I still believe God wants me to write.
The old saying keeps coming to mind. “It is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.” The same applies to having a published book that has gone out of print.