Why I’m Writing My First Book

Last week, I sent the first draft of my first book to my publisher. And it’s a good thing I did, because no one is publishing books anymore. You can barely find one on Amazon these days. Authors are dying out, like an endangered species. Thank God I’m writing this book—a single light shining in the twilight of a dying craft.

I’m kidding.

worthiness belonging purpose

Photo Credit: Sharon Drummond via Compfight cc

Though the publishing industry is contracting, the truth is, due to technology and the awesome courage to self-publish, there are more books out there than ever, and anyone can become an author. So, the real question these days isn’t, are you writing a book? The real question is, why are you writing a book?

This is why I’m writing a book:

I’m writing it, not because I’m a light shining within the twilight of a dying craft, but because you have a light shining within you. And, if you’re like the rest of us, most of the time, you probably don’t even know it. Because it has been covered by pain and mess and confusion and brokenness. This is being human. But it’s not all there is to being human. I’m writing this book because I have good news, and the good news is this:

Though our light gets buried deep, it never gets dim.

I’m writing this book because the runaway train that is the human project looks like it’s about ready to leap the tracks. We are moving faster than ever and racing headlong toward a mysterious destination about which few of us can agree, and we just keep throwing more and more coal into the boiler. I’m writing this book because the secret to staying on the tracks isn’t to work more furiously for more progress but to sink more deeply into the slow, steady rhythm of our souls.

Slowing down is what opens us up, to the wild possibilities within us.

I’m writing this book because when you type “Where did” into a Google search, the number one search in the world is “Where did I go wrong?” I’m writing this book because in every moment—with every thought, feeling, behavior, and breath—we are trying to answer three questions with our lives. When you get right down to it, we are doing almost nothing else with our days. Yet, we lack clarity about what those questions are, the order in which they are answered best, and what it looks like to find the answers for good. I’m writing this book, not because I have all the answers, but because I know this:

The search for our most coveted answers is a lot simpler than we make it.

I’m writing this book because words like redemption and resurrection and awakening stir something deep within us; something like hope emerging from a long, long slumber; something that knows without having to be told that mess is where we find meaning, pain is where we find purpose, and brokenness is where we find beauty. I’m writing this book because I believe the hope that has been hibernating within humanity is stirring—rolling over in in its dank, dark cave.

Hope is getting ready to go roaming once again.

It’s a book about the journey we’re all on, from secretly believing we aren’t good enough to knowing, without a doubt, that we matter. It’s a book about how, along the way, our relationships can thrive, our sense of purpose can blossom, and our peacefulness can flourish. It’s a book about feeling at home in our being, in our loving, and in our living.

And it’s a book about how grace can show us the way home.

But, most importantly, if there’s one thing I’ve learned as a therapist, it’s this: ideas change nothing, but experience has the power to transform everything. So, I don’t think any of us need a new book; I think we all need a new experience.

The experience of writing it has been grace and hope and joy.

I hope reading it will be, too.

You can leave a comment by clicking here.


P.S. I can tell you two more things about the book. It’s scheduled to be released in February 2017, and, as this summer approaches, I’ll be able to share a lot more with you. In the meantime, we’ll be talking about topics related to the book in our next Courtyard Conversation on November 29 at 2pm CST. To find out more about joining, click here


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Disclaimer: My writings represent a combination of my own personal opinions and my professional experiences, but they do not reflect professional advice. Interaction with me via the blog does not constitute a professional therapeutic relationship. For professional and customized advice, you should seek the services of a counselor who can dedicate the hours necessary to become more intimately familiar with your specific situation. I do not assume liability for any portion or content of material on the blog and accept no liability for damage or injury resulting from your decision to interact with the website.

Kelly is a licensed clinical psychologist and co-founder of Artisan Clinical Associates in Naperville, IL. He is also a writer and blogs regularly about the redemption of our personal, relational, and communal lives. Kelly is married, has three children, and enjoys learning from them how to be a kid again. You can find him on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

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34 thoughts on “Why I’m Writing My First Book

  1. So bummed I didn’t get to beta-read! 🙁 Exciting news that it’s all going ahead. Congratulations Kelly.

    • Sorry we didn’t get to continue our tradition, Jen! The truth is, I didn’t even get to beta-read! 🙂 My wife had time to scan it and give me broad feedback, but that’s about it. Thanks for your encouragement, though!

      • LOL, they have to publish it by 2017, they need it NOW, dammit! 😉

        I will definitely be pre-ordering when it comes out. Blessings.

  2. Yay for you! I love reading these blog posts, excited for the book. But 2017?! Really, it takes that long?!

    • Right?! It’s been a steep learning curve for me and the duration of the process has been one of the big surprises. Looking forward to sharing more as summer rolls around, when most of the details are firmed up!

  3. Dr. Kelly – I always enjoy your posts! Your voice comes through beautifully in your prose and I look forward to reading you and feeling like you’re speaking into my situations – keep it up! I join with you in prayer that this new book will be an uncommon experience for you as you write and many, many readers who find it in their journey! John

  4. “the secret to staying on the tracks isn’t to work more furiously for more progress but to sink more deeply into the slow, steady rhythm of our souls.”

    Thank you for this! As always, your articles are a savory meal that lingers on my tongue long after it’s been read. I’m salivating for your book!

  5. I wrote my first novel about my experiences of raising a daughter who was diagnosed with epilepsy. It was a great experience to create a family as they navigate through the trenches of managing a chronic illness. It’s called AND WE ALL FALL DOWN: ONE FAMILY STRUGGLE WITH EPILEPSY and it will be released next spring. We all have a story to tell. And when my bravery matched my opportunity, I knew it was my time to become the author that was waiting patiently and quietly all these years. I told my story not to show how much we all suffered and triumphed throughout our journey of drugs and seizures, but that we simply overcame. Writing heals our brokenness, and our stories connect us as we walk together. Thanks for your post, that told me that stories matter. Our lives matter.

    • Monica, thanks for this beautiful reflection on writing and sharing our stories. I spent time with a friend today whose daughter was just diagnosed with epilepsy. Please feel free to put me on a mailing list for the spring release and when I get the notice, I’ll forward it to him. Thanks again!

      • Good morning! Back in fall you asked that I let you know when my book would be released. Well as of yesterday it was released for purchase. It’s titled, “And We All Fall Down: One Families Struggle With Epilepsy”. The response I’ve received so far has been amazing. I’m very proud of this story and that I listened to the nagging voice that told me I had an experience that needed to be shared. Writing is excellent therapy that offers healing in parts of your wounded heart you forget needed tending to.

        The book/Ebook can be purchased at friesenpress.com.
        (No relation by the way! Just coincidence!). Thanks again!

        • Thank you so much, Monica, for having the bravery to right the book, and for remembering to come back here to share it with me/us. I will pass it along and look forward to checking it out myself. Best of luck in this next leg of the journey!

  6. Amazing post! As a young professional writer who one days hopes to publish a book, your words were inspiring while also serving as a reminder of why I love to write in the first. I especially loved your analysis of the positivity that is uncovered in the darkest places when you said, “Mess is where we find meaning, pain is where we find purpose and brokenness is where we find beauty.” Thank you for writing, sharing and inspiring. I greatly look forward to reading your book.

    • That is the most wonderful, unexpected side effect of this post! I’m so glad it encouraged your passion for writing. You’re welcome, and thank YOU for the way that inspires me!

  7. Good Morning! I shared your piece on GRACE yesterday, then several others did as well. Two conversations lead to questions about your counseling group. Now our youngest little one just asked what I’m writing and wonders if she can hear your thoughts too, since Mommy thinks they’re good! The weighing and measuring of words brings to light the power of the pen and tongue. Writing to me is exhilarating and crushing to my spirit, depending on how well the wrestling match over each sentence goes. Yet, the transforming miracle of getting the words right and healing a wounded soul…each of ours, is the gift you and writers throughout the ages have been given starting with One Word! :). This is exciting! Can’t wait to read it!

  8. GOOD for you Kelly!!! I myself have started writing a book, but I had to put the book down to heal some parts of my story I wasn’t quite ready to write about yet, so in a way, starting the process really helped me to see / tend to some un-cared for wounds.

    I commend you on this journey, I can’t wait to hear what its about and better yet, can’t wait to read it.

    • Karen, thank you! Your comment reminds me of an interview I was recently listening to about meditation. The interviewee said a student had lamented that she doesn’t formally meditate enough. He pointed out that she’s a professional writer, so she spends all of her days meditating. I have no doubt that the awareness that arises from writing is healing in this way. Good for you for paying attention in your writing and then pursuing the healing!

  9. “Though our light gets buried deep, it never gets dim.” Absolutely
    agree, Dr. Kelly. When one reaches that light within, it is glowing
    bright as bright. It is just that we bury it with so many layers of
    stuff that we have covered it with over our many lifetimes. But with
    perserverance, we can layer by layer remove all this stuff, as we come
    to deal with the many issues that need to be dealt with.
    I am now
    learning to live with a connection to this wonderful light within, to
    the best of my ability all the time. Not always successful, but it is
    getting better and better over time. It is such a joy-full life to be
    living in true connection with oneself, and a wonderful journey as I
    discover more and more of who I truly am, a Son of God. But I agree with
    you also, it is actually a very simple journey, it is we who make it
    all so complicated. We have to make our lives as simple as possible, it
    is true that ‘less is more’ in this case.

      • Thank you Dr. Kelly, and just wanted to add several words to my claim to now know that I am a Son of God, “and this is open to all of us, in our essence, we are all Sons of God, no separation between us”. I realised I may have appeared being separatist in leaving that out. And I also look forward to your new book when it appears.

  10. May God bless you greatly as you move forward in your calling. It’s a pleasure to read the words you share. Psalms 45:1-2 My heart is overflowing with a good theme; I recite my composition concerning the King; my tongue is the pen of a ready writer. I look forward to your book. I prefer holding physical pages in my hand much more than viewing an image on a lighted screen.

  11. Over and over, I am thankful for your writing. In it,
    there’s grace and permissiveness to be who/how/where I am on this crazy
    (and presently really tough) journey.

    This time, one of your
    sentences hit a nerve and I found myself (days ago, and again today,
    freshly) nearly in tears with relief. Here’s why: one of the single most
    important things to me is the experience of slowing down, of the
    contemplative, of stillness. Heck, I built a masters’ degree around
    phenomenology and observation and time, knowing that if nothing else
    mattered, this matters so very, very much. And I believe that it’s a
    message worth spreading in the rest of the world too, somehow. This
    degree of importance is matched by a sense of isolation, that the pace
    and timescale to which I so deeply relate is irrelevant in so much else
    of my life. It’s an exhausting place to be. (Not a place I am content to

    “the secret to staying on the tracks isn’t to work more
    furiously for more progress but to sink more deeply into the slow,
    steady rhythm of our souls.”

    This is pure grace and
    encouragement. A shred of something to carry around – that somebody else
    believes really, really strongly in the same sort of thing. So: from
    the depths of my heart, thank you.

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