I was sitting in the car, on the verge of tears.
I had just been rejected – not by a girl, not by a church: I had been rejected by a publisher.
“No big deal,” you say. “Toughen up.” But you don’t understand. This publisher came to me. They came to me asking me to write a book for them, and I tried. And I tried again. And I tried again.
Until finally, one morning I’ll never forget, I received the e-mail: “Nick, we just don’t think you’re the right person for the job. This is awkward, since we contacted you to write for us, and you have a blog on writing…but we just don’t think it’s working out. Look forward to working with you in the future.”
My dream, shattered. My pride, broken. Everything I thought I knew, disintegrated.
“Not right for the job? Who do they think they are? I’m a literary genius for crying out loud, they just don’t recognize it! What’s wrong with them!?” But then, slowly, it dawned on me: I wasn’t really asking what was wrong with them. I was asking: “What’s wrong with me?”
I spent the next day praying, and fasting, and mourning. Had I really deceived myself this whole time? I prayed, and prayed, and prayed that the Lord would give me comfort. I had already told all my friends and family I had a book deal, and now…I had to come crawling back to them: “Um, this is embarrassing, but you remember that book deal handed to me on a silver platter? Well, I screwed it up.”
And what about my readers? You know – the readers who came to me wanting to learn about WRITING?
I felt like all the carefully constructed masks I’d created were tumbling, slowly, down.
I prayed some more, until at last, I felt at peace. The Lord was in control, not me.
I spent the week worshiping, calling out to God, asking for His help…and slowly, the book deal began fading in importance. As I continued to worship, perspective slowly dawned on me: I didn’t need a book deal to be justified. Justified. That was the word. That was that little voice, calling out to me from the scriptures: “Nick, who are you to declare yourself righteous?”
Oh really, Lord? You’re going to play hardball with me when I’m down. Of course he was. It was surgery time.
“I’m no one, Lord.” But I knew I didn’t believe it. So, right then and there, I repented: “God, I’ve been trying to make myself righteous through attention and applause. I haven’t been treating you like the God of the Universe you are. Forgive me.”
And then, those beautiful words: “You’re already justified, Nick. Through Christ, you’re already declared wonderful to me.” I basked in those words day in and out, all week.
That Saturday morning, I went to Starbucks. I started writing down everything I had been processing all week. I wrote, and wrote, and poured my heart out, thinking back on my life and all the myriad ways I’d tried to be righteous on my own; I’d tried to justify myself; I’d ridden this roller coaster over and over again, and I was getting sick.
And a single word came to mind, encapsulating the whole thing: “Faker.”
That’s what I was. That’s what I had been. That’s what I’m cocooning out of. I wrote the words: “It’s time to leave Fakerville, forever.” I started writing about the first passage that came to mind: The parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector.
I was the Pharisee.
I needed to be the Tax Collector.
I wrote, and wrote, and wrote some more. And as I wrote, it suddenly dawned on me: “Nick – this is your book.” I protested: “No, it’s not. My publisher said they didn’t want to work with me, they’ve been trying for months. I even asked if I should try again, and they said ‘No!’ This is not my book. This is just for me.”
So I ignored that. Until Monday morning.
Because that morning, I uttered two words to myself that changed my life: “Why not?”
So I hacked up an apologetic e-mail, attached about ten pages of my bleeding heart, and clicked ‘Send'”.
I didn’t hear back all week.
Friday morning, I was playing with my kids. I was really okay without the book – I knew it. The Lord had spoken to me in a powerful way. I didn’t need it anymore. God was God, not me. And he said I was justified, with or without a book. So I was.
But then, around noon, I casually checked my e-mail. At the top of the list was a message from my publisher. I winced. I almost didn’t even open it, because I expected it to say something like: “Dear Nicholas, we are now putting you on our spam mail list, and your messages will be blocked from here until undetermined future date. Please do not write again.”
Nervously, I clicked it.
My jaw dropped.
“Nick,” it said. “This is exactly what we’re looking for. Get us a couple more chapters by the end of the month, and we’ll send a contract in the mail.”
I re-read it. Then I read it again.
“Brenna,” I said. “You’re never going to believe this.”
As every writer worth their salt knows, that’s just the beginning of the story. The rest is about meticulous research, incredibly painstaking work, and sharpening feedback from editors, over and over again. The little book I wrote, “Faker”, was born about 12 months later, and was fed through the copy machine about 6 months after that.
Just a month ago, the book was released, and…wow. The support has been overwhelming. The book has 5 stars on Amazon. Several of my readers have written me gracious responses, and many people who I thought wouldn’t give me the time of day have taken time to read, encourage and promote. Here it is, by the way:
Obviously, I hope you will too. But don’t take my word for it. Here are a few blurbs from some great writers and thinkers in their own right, and below that, a list of people just like you and me who’ve taken time to give their thoughts:
“This is a terrific little book whose brevity belies its wisdom. What makes it so helpful is the sheer honesty with which McDonald writes. It’s got such a light touch that disarms the defensiveness that inevitably arises when we start trying to be honest about ourselves.”
–Richard Lints, Andrew Much Distinguished Professor of Theology, Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary
“Nicholas McDonald’s Faker is a fast-paced and humorous exposure of how many of us live every day–faking it. It will make you both uncomfortably honest and honestly comfortable as he takes you through the dangers of pretending and performing as well as the balm of gospel remedies. If you want to be challenged and encouraged in the freedom of living ‘real,’ take up and read!”
–Brian Cosby, author of Giving Up Gimmicks: Reclaiming Youth Ministry from an Entertainment Culture
“This is precisely the kind of book I would have loved to use with the small groups of high schoolers I used to lead. It would be perfect for college students. I strongly recommend this book to you as a reader and for use in ministry.”
–Barnabas Piper, Author of The Pastor’s Kid and Help My Unbelief
“This is a great book. I love the fact that Jesus sets us free from a constant life of pretending to be something we are not. And I love the fact that this book helps us see it more clearly.”
–Jonty Allcock, Pastor, Speaker and Author of Lost, Hero and Fearless
“We made Faker our camp book on CYFA venture I’m just back from leading. Took 30 copies and sold out! Almost half the camp are going home with the book. It’s certainly touched a nerve, thanks!”
–Christian Camp Leader, UK
Here are some of my favorite online reviews:
Barnabas Piper’s Review: “What McDonald does remarkably well is weave in profound theological truths and terms so that his conversational and even humorous tone carries great meaning. He shows how propitiation and justification are far more than just $10 words; they actually free a soul to trust God and let go of anxiety and self-consciousness. Readers will come away with more than a sense of a Big God – they’ll get a concise explanation of His nature and His work, all packaged in a way that it is digestible.” Read the whole thing here.
That Happy Certainty’s Review: “It’s a very readable little book offering a refreshing and practical invitation to reject a life of “faking it,” for the “real reality” that knowing Jesus brings. Faker is humorously laced with McDonald’s own story, including typically teenage struggles (as well as present battles), but the heart of his book sees him explain and apply the short parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector, which Jesus tells in Luke 18:9-14….” Read the whole thing here.
Visionary Womanhood’s Review: “Teens will appreciate McDonald’s frank, open, easy style of writing, cartoon images strategically placed here and there, and short sound bites divided with headlines, making it easy to start reading and get drawn in to read “just one more.” The chapters are just the right length (McDonald must still have some youth left in him), and there are only seven of them, making the entire book doable for even the most reluctant reader.” Read the whole thing here.
Kevin Halloran’s Review: “The well-written book reads like a conversation and will make you laugh out loud while sharing rich gospel implications for our lives (bonus points for using the word propitiation so much and richly). McDonald intertwines personal anecdotes, helpful illustrations, and biblical truth to cast a vision of a gospel-shaped, authentic Christian life. I wish I had this book when I was fourteen—It would have saved me four years of being a faker!” Read the whole thing here.
Would you support me and join me in the journey out of Fakerville by buying a copy of “Faker”, and handing one out to a teenager dear to your heart? I’d love for you to do so, and to share your own journey with me at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
See you on the other side of Fakerville,