In Excellent Company

I find it curious that the book I spent five years writing has become less mine in the year and a half since its publication. Before launching it out into the world, it was so much mine — my thoughts, woven through sentences written over and over again until they became story.

After launching I realized almost immediately the book no longer belonged to me. It was making it’s own way in the world, allowing itself to be picked up and put down at the pleasure or distaste of anyone who happened to come upon it. Sometimes I hear snippets of interactions, but mostly it all goes on without any need for my involvement.

I find it even more curious with how at ease I am with the separate lives the book and I now live. I’ve even begun to play with ideas for a new book, with no sense of obligation to what I suppose one might consider my first love. I suppose this means we’ve had a healthy relationship, the book and me. We both understand that a time comes when it is best to release what was in order to take hold of what’s next.

This does not mean that I cease to be interested in what the book is up to. And so, it seems only right that I should celebrate the fact that My Vertical Neighborhood: How Strangers Became Friends, has been shortlisted for the annual Word Guild Writing Awards.

I’ve read one of the other books nominated in the same category as ‘my’ book and so I can say with some certainty that it’s in excellent company. I appreciate this. It’s much better than finding that something you have great affection for is in poor company.

The Word Guild Awards celebrate Canadian writing by people who identify as Christians. If you scan the list of nominees you will see there is a great deal of fine writing happening among people who are followers of Jesus. Since the book I wrote is about what I’ve learned about why Jesus advised people to love their neighbours, the Word Guild is a good place for it to have landed.

I’m curious to see what will happens as the book makes its way through the nomination process to the final judging. But, here’s another curious thing: whether it wins or not matters less to me than I once thought it would. Instead, I watch from a distance, grateful that books live not because they have been written by someone, but because someone else reads them and then thinks them worthy of mentioning to others.