Why 2011 is a Leap Year For Me

So, to continue what I started in In 2011, I’ll Be in Heaven. And let me right now apologize for how boring for you this post is bound to be. Looking at “In 2011,” I see I made it sound as if the moment I finish the book on which I’m currently working, I’ll set off for a ten-month trek through the Amazon, or maybe enter a Christian monastery somewhere. I won’t. I hate bugs, and don’t like monk food.

What’s going to happen to me as of February 2 that is so exciting just thinking about it shortens my breath is guaranteed to be boring in the telling of it, because it’s just so completely all about me. So it’s not boring to me, at all. But to you? Pffft. Clear anything off your desk that could hurt your head when you suddenly fall asleep.

In 2011, I’m going to go into business for myself.

That’s it.

Hey! Wake up! I’m not done yet!

No, but … really. That’s it: business for myself. More exactly, I’m going to finish writing the book that I was half-way through writing when I had to stop writing it in order to write these two other books for I was contractually obliged. (I signed one of those contracts five years ago.) I asked the publishers of each of these books if they would pay me for not writing the book of theirs I owed them, but, being book publishers, they acted in typically unreasonable fashion. They wanted their book.


Anyway, right. February 1. All contracts fulfilled. All books-for-hire written. Done. Free.


I cannot tell you what it will mean to me to finally get to finish my bookus-interruptus. That book is very personal to me. Intensely personal. Ferociously personal.

There has been so, so much about dealing with professional Christians that I have found profoundly distasteful. I’ll change names to protect my own ass, but that’s it.

I’m just so pissed off. Thank God I know how to write. Otherwise I guess I’d just explode. (I know what you’re thinking: “But John! You’re so freakin funny, dude! How can anyone as funny as you possibly be angry?” Um. Oh. You’re not thinking that. That’s weird. I thought you were.)

Anyway, My Adventures Amongst the Christians will only constitute about one-third of this book. I have so many other things I want to talk about. My life as a teen. My life as a drug addict. My life as the second half of a couple. And … all like that.

When I am done with that book, I’ll take my real leap: I’ll forgo traditional book publishing, and publish it myself. I love my literary agent. And I love the money I know she could get me for this book. But what I do not at all love is losing control of my book—which is what you do when you sign over to a publisher all of its rights.

Screw. That. Noise.

So my hope is that I have a large enough audience to be able to make a go of it alone. I have no idea whether or not I do. I’ll find out!

And that’s the exciting/scary part: Finding out. Going it alone. Believing it’s possible. Having that faith.

Taking that leap.


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  • Susan in NY

    Well, I did not think it was a boring post. I am so happy for you! And you serve as an inspiration to all of us who are striving to make it in our own businesses.


  • You can count this new fan in! I look forward to the read.

  • Drew

    I too look forward to reading it. Get ‘er done!

  • By leap, I was thinking you meant actual jumping, and that 2011 would be the year you dunked. “I Got Hops and You Don’t — The Mad Skillz I Rock in Yo Face and Why You Can’t Contain Me.”

  • ankawibi

    “There has been so, so much about dealing with professional Christians that I have found profoundly distasteful” – Amen to that!

    My husband and I have been working amongst the Christians for 10 yrs and I had almost lost Faith. It’s all very sad. And if I feel this way, and you feel this way, how must God feel?

  • Gooseberrybush

    I thought this might be the route you were taking. Way to build yourself a platform. I congratulate you and wish you luck.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks! But, honestly, I don’t know how much of a “platform” I have. The problem with the way I’ve blogged is that I haven’t done the ONE thing you’re supposed to do in order to garner a following, which is blog about one thing. I write about everything. Creatively for me that’s … the only way I would have it. But career-wise, it’s pretty counter-productive. People really like categories; they like to know what to expect when they show up at a blog. With me, you never know what you might get. I know that works against me.

    This week, for instance, someone referred to me on their blog as a “gay activist.” Sometimes I’m called a humorist. Sometimes a “religious blogger.” Sometimes a fiction writer. I’m forever being called a “progressive Christian.” So … if that’s not what you want, you don’t come look. And if you DO want that, you pretty soon don’t GET that, and then you’re disappointed. And then you leave.

    Anyway, I’ve just never done the “niche” thing, which everyone knows is the only way to get a real platform from a blog. But … whatever. I do my thing. And a lot of people have been welcoming of what I do. So we’ll see. I’ll definitely see if anyone’s interested in discovering what I can do when I’m outside of this weird little format, and have the time to really get stuff right. That’s the part I’m soooo looking forward to: finally honing. Right now, “close enough” is all I can ever reach before having to hit the “publish” button. I can’t wait until I have the time to really craft.

  • Gooseberrybush

    I do the same thing myself, and it’s been hard to find a following for me as well. The fact that I blog anonymously also hurts me, I know. But I probably average 100 hits a day now, and that’s a great improvement over the time when a good day was 20 hits, and I thought, “yahoo!” I know that even 100 hits a day is small potatoes, and that all the blogging sites say you can’t even make money off of advertising until you’re hitting 750.

    I support you and read you every day. I love your creativity and that you don’t just work in one genre, and that you are a craftsman, a really, really great writer.

    This is not to mention that if you are a Christian writer who doesn’t subscribe to the currently prevailing beliefs of what a Christian must be or believe, then it really hurts you. I know you know that already, unfortunately, from the Christian publishing world. The good news is that there is an audience out there of people who feel differently. There are people who live to read Anne Lamott and Bill Moyers and other people of the faith who are perhaps more open minded about the definition of a Christian.

    Have you invited your personal Facebook friends to join Thruway Christians? You need to “push” that. Right now your Facebook fan page is 10 times larger than the other. If the members of Thruway Christians “recruited” people who feel the same, then it just might snowball. Also, have you thought of appealing to the movement of reconciling churches? There are lots of them. And there are even more people in traditional churches who don’t feel that you have to be either a Republican or find homosexuality a sin in order to believe. They just don’t make the news. But I know they’re out there.

    You can do it. Unfortunately, you have to “market,” which feels false, I know. It would be better if they sought you out instead. But you have very important things to say. Please don’t give up on the dream. It would kill me, because I figure if you can make it, then maybe I can, too.

  • Anonymous

    I don’t have a problem in the world with “marketing” my work: I’m proud of the work I do, and want to share it with others. There’s nothing false in that. And Christian publishing has actually been good to me; I did, after all, publish two books there, exactly as I wrote them. And Crosswalk.com takes excellent care of me. So … that’s all good. Very good, actually. Bought me a HOUSE good.

    But I personally won’t try to bring much attention to Thruway. That’s … not my place, I think. The truth is, I don’t care if that “movement” grows or dies. I’ll tend to it a little—insofar as I can I’ll try to steer it in the way I think best. But I don’t want to be … that guy. I don’t want to be a religious leader. I felt a moral obligation to write that document, and to start that FB page. But that’s it. That thing lives or dies based on what OTHER people do with it, not me.

  • Gooseberrybush

    I respect your opinion. Just keep on blogging and marketing on.

  • Katie

    That was just your 4,444 comment! Congratulations:)

  • Anonymous

    And I yours. I really appreciate everything you said here. There’s real truth there.

  • Diana A.

    Probably much the way he felt about the Pharisees in the early A.D.’s (C.E.’s?) Or not.

  • A leap of faith? Don’t you know that’s childish? You have dreams, hopes, and worst of all, faith! You child, you!

    (Been reading the wrong people online again).

    Your other books, I’ve looked at (not really being able to afford to spare money, even on books) and didn’t know if they were quite for me. I’ve been content to read the blog. This one sounds like it could be.

    A brave move. I’ve avoided self-publishing so far just because I’ve heard that it’s career-suicide for the yet-to-be-discovered author, but I’ve always liked the idea of the control it affords. I’m a control freak – down to the point of wanting to choose my editors personally, wanting to do my own illustrations and design my own book covers. You’re already “out there” so you can pull it off. Enjoy the control, enjoy every minute of it.

  • Bryan

    Once you get the book finished you might want to think about starting up a Kickstarter fund. It’s a good way to generate a buzz and also get people to contribute to your personal production of the books. I’ve seen artists use it for CDs and also Don Miller used it to finance his Blue Like Jazz movie. Just a thought. Keep up the good work!

  • Don Rappe

    Clearly, you are a surrealist christian humorist. Or, perhaps, a humorous christian surrealist.

  • denver

    Actually, I *like* that you don’t niche very well – I have a rash of blogs and news sites that I read in fits and spurts depending on if I’m in the mood for it or not; if I want GLBT news, I go to goodasyou or pamshouseblend. If I want liberal/political news, I go to downwithtyranny or truthout. If I want comedy I go to cracked or 11points. Etc. But if I’m not in the *mood* for whatever it is that their niche is, I don’t go to that site for months… for instance, if politics is getting too hateful, I avoid politics websites for a while. But I never know what I’m going to find on your blog, be it xtian debate or random fiction short story or autobiographical or whatever, so I at least browse the home page if not every post fairly regularly to see what’s been going on, even though my participation in commentary is rather on-and-off. Which is why your blog is one of two blogs that stake a claim on my overly-crowded toolbar… because I can often find something there no matter what mood I’m in (or not knowing what I’m in the mood for). So, yay for non-niche-iness! I think that makes you more marketable… lots of people from various interest groups can still find something of interest. I have recommended you to both xtian and non-xtian friends alike, based on some post or another.

    Oh, and PS – the new book does sound interesting! I am looking forward to it. 😀

  • cat rennolds

    I came to your blog for Homos vs. Christians. I stayed because you can write. I don’t much care WHAT a writer writes about, as long as he has a voice I can listen to. I learn lots of neat new stuff that way.