when it’s good to keep your art a secret

At 11 am this past Monday morning, I sent off a manuscript to my editor, thousands of words that will become my third book. It is as complete as I am able to make it right now and I’m thankful to have that massive deadline behind me.

I realize I haven’t talked about this book much on the blog and I’m not sure how I feel about that. With the first book, you knew about it when it was only a book proposal and were so kind to walk with me through each step.

With this book, I signed a contract and had it half-written three months before I even mentioned it here.

I’d like to think I’ve learned a few things along the way – one is that I need to save my breath because if I chatter away about a project too long before it comes out, then I’ll be chattering away about the same things for two years straight. No fun there. This next book is due to release in November of 2013 and so I just don’t want to wear you out by talking about it too much too soon.

But that isn’t the only reason why I’ve kept it to myself. I think part of it also has to do with knowing what is to come, in a way. I know that sooner or later, these words will be available to anyone gracious enough to accept them as well as those who might not.

That doesn’t scare me like it did the first time around. But it does make me a little tired to think of it. There is a time for sharing and speaking out. But I’m learning that my own rhythm of listening, creating, and waiting comes first.

There is a sweetness for me in keeping quiet this time, in holding my art close to my chest for a while, in sitting with my words and ideas in silence month after month before I begin to talk about them, in carrying my questions with a few people before I ask them in front of many.

I’m thankful for the opportunity to write. I’m thankful to you for reading. We already have a title and a subtitle for this next book that I can’t wait to share with you, but it isn’t yet time.

And so the manuscript sits in the inboxes of my editor and my agent and I pray my words make sense to them. I’ll know soon enough.

Do you have a project still in the stage of sacred waiting? What are the challenges and blessings for you as you hold your art close to your chest?


  1. says

    Excited for you. I think that’s the way that I would write, too. A little close to the chest. Someday, I’d love to have something in the works, but I’m not there yet. Just blogging my heart out :)

  2. says

    I am dying to know more…patience is not my best virtue!

    Congratulations on meeting your deadline, Emily – I’ve been thinking about you a lot these last few weeks, praying you’ve been holding up under the pressure of book writing AND holiday preparations. Whew- that’s a lot!

  3. says

    I’m learning this – slowly. There’s been so many things with this last book I’ve wanted to share with everyone. The process, the disappointments, the setbacks…but even though it’s my story, it’s not mine to tell yet. So I hold it close and know soon enough, the time will come.

  4. says

    Oh yes. I am working on my first book, and chose to self-publish but I am scared to pieces sharing my heart with the rest of the world. I love that you are choosing to keep your ‘art secret’ this go around. I think I mostly kept it close to myself out of fear than anything else. But there is a joy in letting my readers know a little about it from time to time, and get that support. So many mixed feelings. I look forward to seeing what else you write. Love your writing, and your blog.

  5. says

    Yes, a book proposal tucked away -waiting growth in publicity before my agent submits it to publishers. It’s a sweet waiting on the Lord, letting Him work things in His time. My agent said my book ideas might ripen as I wait, and she is so right.

    Thanks for this encouragement today. So thankful God gave you the strength to finish and send it to the editor -despite family sickness!

  6. says

    Looking forward to your 3rd book. I have loved your other two. In response to keeping your art a secret, I totally get it. It is easier for me to tell complete strangers about my blog than close friends and family. Only a select few know I blog. It is silly, I know, denying my biggest supporters the chance to support. I somehow feel that if people aren’t actively reading or writing a blog, that they wouldn’t get it or worse, wouldn’t read it. So, for now, I keep this close to my chest.

    • says

      I can relate with that, Karmen. For me this time, though, it’s the opposite. I’ve invited family and close friends in on things and keep them close to my chest as well. It’s the sharing in public with others that has to wait.

  7. lacey poag says

    it is all in His perfect timing alone.
    I will be ready and waiting for your new book and even sooner to hear the title.
    hApPy for you…you are doing it through Him

  8. says

    Oh, yes, how your words resonate with me, Emily, especially, “But I’m learning that my own rhythm of listening, creating, and waiting comes first.” I am doing my best to learn that rhythm. I have not yet published a book, but several are in the making. One big project now that I am working on, will one day be in book format, telling the story – the journey that God has me on. But for now it stays with me and a few others. Knowing when and how to tell it, only God knows when His story is to be told. Until then, I will do my best to wait on the Spirit to guide me…even though often I feel like a child on Christmas morning who cannot wait to open up the pretty, bowed-tied packages! Blessings and Grace to you and yours.

    BTW – I sent a copy of your book “Graceful” to a friend who is a pastor’s wife of a young church in Celebration, FL. She has a passion for young women’s ministry and ever since I learned of your book, I knew she needed to have a copy. Thank you for sharing your heart. ~jana

  9. says

    I have been told over and over by people for years that I should write a book. I have the desire, but I don’t know if it’s God’s desire or my human heart. I know what I want to write, but again, is it me or God? I guess I should just start writing and if it’s His will, He’ll let me know. So yeah, I don’t talk about it. Just a little thing with me and God at the moment. I like it that way. Thank you for your encouragement!!!

    • says

      Cheri, for what it’s worth (and that may not be much, I know) it’s been my experience that my desires and God’s aren’t as separate as I once thought. I think the whole question “is it me or God?” is one that can make you crazy.

      You have the desire to write. It sounds like He’s already let you know that. All the best to you as you put pen to paper – or hand to keyboard, as it may be.

  10. says

    Emily —

    I appreciate your perspective. It feels like writers are being pushed to publicize and “build a buzz” about their books so far in advance that there’s no longer any excitement when the book does come out. I love books more than most, but I’m feeling burnt out by constant mentions of even my favorite authors’ books.

    Silence creates an inviting space for others to step into. Constant shouting, I fear, may cause them to back up and ultimately flee…for silence.

  11. says

    It is like having a baby, I think. Sometimes you just want to keep it between you, your husband and your doctor until you release it to the world. Savor the sacredness of the occasion.

  12. Gail says

    I keep my writing close until I think it’s ready for company…I think that’s a good way to know that it is the way you want it to be.
    Bless Up!

  13. says

    Luke 2:19 “… But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.” Sometimes you just have to collect all the thoughts, and ponder them in your heart.

  14. says

    I’ve been thinking about writing a memoir for a couple weeks now. I haven’t mentioned it to anyone… I’m sort of just letting it percolate in my mind for a bit. I might tell my boyfriend sometime soon; he would be the first one. But, yes, keeping things safe and close is something that I do often in many aspects of my life.

    anddddd congratulations! :)

  15. says

    I have a project that hasn’t even begun yet. I’m in the stage of sacred waiting to see what it’s supposed to look like. But I know it’ll be something.

    the challenge is not to run with the first idea that pops in my head and go: oh, this’ll work and find that it isn’t what God’s got planned.

  16. says

    So excited and thrilled for your deadline to be behind you, Emily! :) Yay! Celebrating with you with that sigh of relief. My project is word art. Many pieces but not quite complete. Waiting to hear back from several companies to mass produce some or many of said art. Really praying that God takes and uses whatever will make the most impact. Praying that for your words in your latest labor of love called “book” 😉 May you now thoroughly enjoy your Christmas and family.

  17. says

    This is beautiful! Can’t wait to read and love that you’ve found your sacred flow to creating and sharing. For that I think I’m jealous. :) There is a writing still stirring in my soul, secret to others. A homeless man gave me his hand-written life story. It’s more than I can do to read it at this moment – it feels sacred, too precious. But I know I am to share, but I write in fear I will not do his words and story justice.

  18. says

    Love the phrase “sacred waiting”, and totally relate to that.

    What is the perfect phrase for the time before that? The time when you are pondering, and writing, and praying through something that is no more than a blur or a smudge in existence.

  19. says

    Just waiting, scared–not knowing if my offering is of worth–not knowing if any publisher will want it. My book has been germinating thirty-seven years. I’ve shared my manuscript with a few friends, have received a few precious comments and suggestions. In the end, I stand alone, trembling.

    It’s a blessing to me, Emily, to read that you were scared at first, too.

  20. says

    Love how you put this… holding your art close to your heart. God seems to be opening up some new avenues to art for me in addition to writing. And I am holding that new dream close in prayer right now.

    You have me curious to know at least what your subject is… :) Can’t wait to know more.

  21. Jenny says

    Mmm…”sacred waiting.” What a beautiful way to say it. It’s something for me to meditate on as I drive for 6 hours today…

    Best to you.

  22. says

    Some days it feels like a burden, to carry your art around like a secret. It’s almost like you don’t share because you’re not even sure yourself. And when you do speak too soon. Open mouth – insert foot feelings come about. Because then come questions, like “How’s that ____ going?” And you’ve nothing to say, because well…it’s going, but not anytime soon. And you’re mind is still reeling its own questions about how it’s going too. It’s like a long walk home. You know you’re getting there. It’s just gonna take some time. And you could text and call your family while walking on the way. Or just wait it out and greet them when you see them. When it’s time to face them. It’s much better that way, isn’t it?

    There’s so much scenery, so many lessons, so much deepening to take place on that walk. If you speak too soon, it’s not so much about what you reveal too fast, but what you pass by too quickly. Does that make sense? It’s a messy thought, but oh well.

    It’s a good thing He is in the waiting, and in that walk :)

  23. says

    Alot of my friends still don’t know I paint. I have all of my blog/facebook/twitter stuff on a separate fb account so that they don’t find out. I don’t know why I worry what they think. I act like I am still 14. The funny thing is, so many of my friends who know about my art want to help promote it. I don’t know why I am scared. Silly.
    (I always love your posts about writers/artists – I get a lot of encouragement from them).

  24. says

    The title of this post got me. I have had so many artistic endeavors the past 5 years, so many failure, unfinished projects, 3-4 blogs. All of it performance and acceptance based. Then a year ago I completely stopped making anything I was so sick of it all. The striving. Then out of the blue 3 months ago I started making jewelry. I don’t even know how, or why. It just came. I’ve been sharing it in tidbits, but for the most part, this time around…keep it to myself. I even started a new blog that I haven’t told anyone about. And this time around I’m okay with it all. I have a wonderful support system in all my creative endeavors and not once have they rejected me and said, oh no, another blog, another project. There something different this time around, it’s tender and sweet and I want to keep it that way I guess…

  25. says

    Emily, can you recommend a good book (or website or class) about writing a book proposal? I have a possible opportunity and want to learn about the process, but I don’t even know where to start. Thank you!

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