D.L. Mayfield

living in the upside-down kingdom

Filtering by Tag: publishing

Three Weeks After my Book is Published,

And I am feeling tired, and sad, and proud, and insecure. I could have done a better job. I have a message I want to communicate. No, I’m just telling my own story. I’m so confused, and you might be too. You came looking for a window into another world but all I had to offer was a mirror. 

I’ve heard from a few of you, my people in the trenches, my lovely folks with the do-gooder hearts and the sin (both individual and generational) that threatens to curdle everything. I keep your words close to my heart, because we are all on this journey together, and you never really do stop unlearning.

I’ve felt sorry for myself, a bit. The “perks” of writing are so few and far between. Being visible in an age of the hot take is miserable for several reasons. You get to hear what everyone is saying about you, including the bad. You get puffed up and punched down, and you deserve all of it and yet none of it should touch the core of who you are in Christ Jesus. If you wrote something vulnerable, if you strayed into dangerous territory—talking about communities where you are an outsider, for instance—you can get your heart walked all over. I got paid very little money and it is very stressful and time consuming to try and be good at being a visible person. Did I say something social-justice-y on Twitter today? Was I nice enough to the person who was trying to score points off of taking me down? Did I tweet about other people enough, do I feel less lonely now, do you understand me and my world even a little bit, did I communicate how good I was, and does everyone believe me yet?

 

See? I haven’t really changed at all. 

 

In my real life, it has been a very hard summer. I cannot write about some of the reasons why, but the ones that I can are enough. People are struggling, everywhere. There is fear and hatred in the air, in our news and in our hearts. We keep hearing the bad news, so we try to keep celebrating the good. We make cupcakes for homework club, we harvest the cherry tomatoes we planted, we drink tea in the homes of people who have survived far more than us and we let the gratefulness rub off on our skins. We say goodbye to people who move due to sickness and lack of money and no one to care for them. We walk past the memorial for the young man who was killed across the street from us, a black teenager was run down and murdered by a white man with hatred in his heart. My daughter asks what the balloons and the writing scrawled on the wall of the 7-11 means and I don’t want to tell her but I have to. I have to because this is where we all live, this country in where this happens. 

 

 

I love the process of writing, I really do. It’s natural for me—a constant whirl of thoughts inside my head, getting them down and trying to find the common threads within. This is a joy and a gift that I never knew I would need so badly. I also like the thrill of getting picked for publication. The moment the editor writes you back and says “yes, we want this.” That feels good for a few moments, and I exult in front of my computer screen, affirmed that what I do is accessible to others. But the other parts—the publication, the waiting for people to respond, building a platform, the constant dance of keeping a thick skin and a thin heart—it wears on me so. I used to approach social media with the idea that I wanted to connect with others, that I wanted to be less lonely. Now, I am trying to sell books. Now, I am trying to sell you a version of myself. I feel the pressure to tone it down and kick it up a notch. Communicate the mystery of the kingdom of God and do it in 144 characters. Speak up and be quiet. Pick your lane and run in it, run as fast as you can. But the lane I find myself in now is one I never envisioned for myself. I am surrounded by refugees, by people experiencing poverty, by a neighborhood in the throes of gentrification, in a city stuck in a moral dilemma. And I have tried and tried and tried, but I can’t help but notice everything. I can’t help but pay attention, and want you to see it all too. 

 

 

The day my book released I felt very calm and detached, very zen. That lasted for three whole days (and they were great days!). So many people said nice things, I felt so supported. Then came the inevitable after-Christmas feeling, the letdown. Then the crippling insecurity, the anxiety attacks, the trouble sleeping at night, the paralyzing fear of moving forward, the vows to never write again. Oh my word I am sounding like a freaking Anne Lamott version 2.0 over here but I have to be honest: all that neurotic stuff is totally, completely true. Luckily for me, life moves on. I am dealing with myself. I pray over my children at night, that we would learn to be kind to others and kind to ourselves. 

Change is in the air, I can feel it. We are buying a house around the corner from our apartment complex. My daughter starts first grade at the local elementary school tomorrow. I am writing a few things again. I am trying to help get a refugee welcome center off the ground. People are moving away, and new people will move in. The stories will continue to pile their way inside my heart. I will never not pay attention. 

And yet the days will continue on as they are. I will go to the library and a woman will turn to me, bursting with pride at all the books her son is checking out “can you believe how much he reads? Always has his nose in a book, this one.” And the boy will hold up two plastic bags full of books, proudly telling me he got most of them from the shelter where they are staying. And together the boy and his mother will walk out of the library, back into the real world, which is so cruel and so punishing to those who aren’t at the top. And I will be left standing in the library with my soft heart and my wet eyes, wondering what I ever did to deserve this ministry of rubbing shoulders with another world, this ministry of trying to explain just the tiniest bit to those who want to sit down and listen with me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

it's totally ok to eat your feelings. #theministryoffunfetti #thecommitmenttocelebration

it's totally ok to eat your feelings. #theministryoffunfetti #thecommitmenttocelebration

 

Thank you so much to everyone who has emailed, tweeted, commented on instagram . . . all of your feedback means the world to me. I love hearing from you!

 

(For those who are new to this space . . . here's a link to the book I was talking about). 

The Commitment to Celebration (Book Bonanza Edition)

So, I’m not sure if you all heard or not--but I wrote a book! And it was released last Tuesday!

 

There are a lot of things I could say about this process, and I am not quite sure where to start. Of course I am grateful for the opportunity, and I am so touched by every kind word and comment, and I feel some measure of accomplishment, and I am relieved to have it out in the world. But (true to my nature) for every positive feeling there is an equal and opposite reaction: I wish publishing didn’t favor people like me (white, dominant culture), I have received criticism that is both fair and not (which def takes the wind out of my sails), and I am very wary of being put in a position of being an expert on anything.

So many of my writer friends talk about wanting to hide under the covers in the weeks post-book-release. I never understood that until just this moment (I hit a wall three days after publication and am still trying to recover). I have a vulnerability hangover, people. I am sure I will recover soon. In the meantime, my actual life of care-taking and neighborliness and activism is still just as great and as exhausting as ever. The people I am surrounded by for the most part do not care that I wrote a book (except my husband. He is very, very proud. It’s adorable).

at my book launch party, the snacks were very On Brand.

at my book launch party, the snacks were very On Brand.

 

Still, it’s both necessary and a pleasure to make a commitment to celebrate this momentous time. To that point, my friends and my readers have been amazing. I asked a few of my favorite writers/people to write down reflections they had after reading the book, specifically in a few areas:

 

1). What is your favorite unrecognized ministry?

 

2). How did you use to want to change the world? How do you view yourself now?

 

I’m going to link to all the posts right here, but I would love to hear from more of you! Please feel free to leave a comment on this post (or link to a blog).

 

Without further ado, here are some thoughts from some of my favorite people:

 

Michaela Evanow "The Ministry of Meal Making"

 

Amy Peterson "The Ministry of Reading Aloud"

 

Kevin Hargaden "We were just Sitting there Talking When . . ."

 

Christie Purifoy "The Ministry of Flowers"

 

Addie Zierman "The Small, Ordinary Ways we are Changing the World"

 

Marilyn Gardner "Small Things for the Kingdom"

 

Abby Norman "The Ministry of a Messy House"

 

Jessica Goudeau "The Ministry of Keeping Vigil"

 

Shannan Martin "The Important Poverty of Enough"

 

Stina KC "The Ministry of the YMCA"

 

Christiana Peterson "The Unrecognized Ministry of Listening"

 

Lori Harris "That Time We Thought We Assimilated"

 

Tanya Marlow "For Every Wannabe Missionary"


 

A few more links:

 

I have two separate essays about food and interacting with my refugee neighbors (both of these themes are very big in my life, obviously).

 

For Off the Page I wrote this (on despair and resilience in the face of so much being wrong in our world): Staring into the Sun. (Off the page also did an interview with me AND published an excerpt of my book! They are awesome!)

 

For Her.meneutics I wrote about my obsession with the Great British Baking Show and how it points to the importance of interdependence in a fractured world: Let Them Bake Cakes.

 

And here’s two other interviews I did: one for Sarah Quezada at A Life With Subtitles and one for Upright Magazine about Nurturing Craft in an Age of Content.

 

Here’s a link to a podcast I recorded with Matt Mooney.

 

Finally, if you are in the Portland area, make sure to come out to Powell’s on Wednesday night at 7:30 for my book reading/signing. Can you say life goals achieved???


 

WHEW.

 

Now I’m off to indulge in the ministry of coffee, baby snuggles, and reading all of the lovely and kind things so many of you have said. Thanks to all who have shared about the book and who reviewed it for Goodreads and for Amazon (keep em coming!) and who have taken pictures of it out in the wild. I am treasuring this all up, and I will never forget it.



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