Concerning Life as It Is Supposed to Be

Of Cephalopods and Publishers and Very Special Long-Awaited Announcements

Ann Lamott in her wonderful book on writing, Bird by Bird, likens knowing when a book is done to putting an octopus to bed (pages 93, 94). Now that I have had to attempt such a thing, I find her analogy to be apt.

She points out that after you “get a bunch of the octopus’s arms neatly tucked under the covers” you are likely to find that “two more arms are flailing around.” I finished my first “final” draft on December 30. All the arms appeared to be tucked away. Two weeks later when I checked in there were arms sticking out all over. So, I spent the next weeks rewriting confusing sentences and then rewriting them again, removing allusions that only made sense to me, and, in some cases, re-framing whole sections.

Just when I was beginning to think all was snugly blanketed, an arm broke free. Then another. Punctuation marks were all in the wrong places. And where did this Harry Potter reference come from, anyway?

Ms. Lamott finishes the picture as only she can:

“Then, even though all the sucking disks on that one tentacle are puckering open and closed, and the slit-shaped pupils of the octopus are looking derisively at you, as if it might suck you to death just because it’s bored, and even though you know that your manuscript is not perfect and you’d hoped for so much more . . . it’s the very best you can do for now.”

That pretty well describes where I am. Though I hoped for more, this is the best I can manage for now. I can only hope that no one notices the arms that never did get fully secured under the covers.

Because, you see, others soon will be able to notice.

On Tuesday, January 14, I read, in an email, one of the most beautiful sentences ever written in the English language.

“We recently reviewed your manuscript Something Worth Living For: Conversations on Life and Theology in the Westminster Shorter Catechism at our editorial meeting, and I am pleased to inform you that we enjoyed it and would like to take it forward to publication.”

Apparently there are people, people I assume to be sane and honorable, who want to put their money into my project so that it might reach a wider audience. Christian Focus Publications is a publisher based in Scotland who, unless Scotland within the next year or so slides into the North Sea (the Eeyore in my soul assures me that this is an entirely realistic possibility), are currently planning a December, 2020, release.

I’ve tried to be real cool about this. I come home and say, “Hi, Barb, I’m home. I stopped on the way and picked up those oranges you wanted. Oh, also, my book is going to be published.”

In truth, however, I’ve had to restrain myself so that I did not run up and down the street knocking on doors announcing to startled homeowners, “You don’t know me, but my book is going to be published!” I tend to be unable to shut up about it to anyone unlucky enough to cross my shadow over the past few weeks.

I am humbled to know, as a friend familiar with publishing reminded me last week, that few who are as little known as I am who set out on this path are given the opportunity to cross this threshold. I have been blessed to be granted the opportunity to write. And now I am blessed in being published.

I am still in a state of shock.

Celebrate with me!


Those Sanctified


Missing Your Blog


  1. Gail Brightbill

    Hallelujah! Congratulations! I am so excited and happy for you. I’ve always thought you should write. Now I want December 2020 to hurry up and come.

  2. Jason Strong

    Congratulations Randy, although I can’t help but wonder if you got your best material from those of us at the “Covenant Guys” men’s group. Don’t worry … we won’t tell. 🙂

  3. Carol Arnold

    Maybe this “sad little species” can be happy now. We are!

  4. John Holzmann

    Super excited for you, Randy! Congratulations!

  5. Sarah

    So cool!!!!! Congrats!!!! Can’t wait to buy it, read it, and tell all my friends about it. Sing praise!

    • Well, perhaps before you tell your friends, you may want to make sure you get that second step in there! ☺

  6. Yay!!!!!!! Can’t wait to read it!

  7. Woo hoo! Doing a happy dance here, and delighted, and praising God altogether!

  8. valdeb

    I am so glad the time you have waited for has come – at least the first step of promise of publication. I look forward to rejoicing with you anew when it comes to fruition.

  9. Wow! Rejoicing!

    • Thanks! And of course when released we might want to take advantage of our friends’ vast internet connectivity. 😉

  10. Jenifer

    This is THRILLING news! Congratulations- I have always thought you should be published 😁

    • … in which I present my very Protestant theology in as catholic a fashion as possible. I look forward to hearing how I do!

  11. Nina Morway

    Happy is not enough. Ecstatic thrilled joyful for you, and all of us who will have the joy of reading it, as well as telling our friends “Oh, this is a book my pastor published.” “A book,” not “The book.” Hope there will be more.

  12. Dwight Dolby

    Congratulations Randy!!! It’s a happy and inspiring occasion! I’m looking forward to a merrier Christmas this year!

    • And I pray for a merrier Christmas for you, my friend. For reasons far beyond a mere book!

  13. Connie

    Congratulations Randy! This wanna-be is thrilled for you!! You have my permission to break into a happy dance whenever I see you!

    • Okay. But just one happy dance. The rest of the time I need you and others to keep me grounded.


    So excited for you Randy! Congratulations!

  15. Jerrygreenwald

    My little bro,l say this kiddingly, will be a published writer. Proud! Mary already said she wants 5 or6.

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