Re-verse

I have to re-verse my book. I’m not making it go backwards. I have to take out all the Bible versions in the translation I have, and change them to another translation. This is the third time I’ve had to do this. Not every chapter in my book has Bible verses, but enough do that this is a real task.

I started off using the Holman Christian Standard Bible translation. I find it very easy to read and understand. The words don’t get in the way. I started using it because I’d gotten a free version of the Bible in that translation at the time I had committed to reading the Bible the whole way through. When I was writing my blog, it was easy to copy from this translation online because it was the same as what I was reading. The website “Bible Gateway” made doing this very simple.

Then I started thinking about publishing my blog as a book. I also started thinking about copyright and permissions. The Bible is old enough that it is in public domain – but not all translations are. The HCSB is new enough that I’d need permission to use its translation if I’m going to make money off of it. I’d probably also have to give them some royalties too.

I wanted to avoid all of that mess, so I did a little more research and found a website that said if the translation is older than 25 years, then you can use it with no problem. One option is the Revised Standard Version. It is fairly readable, even though there are a few examples of “thy” and “saveth” going on. I had to entirely re-write one post to make it fit this translation.

That was the least of my troubles, though. My book as it was assembled was 76K words. That is 76K words I had to wade through, find all the Bible verses and switch them out from HCSB to RSV. That took a long time. That was really boring. I wanted to quit the whole idea of publishing and move on to something else. There were more posts to write. I couldn’t be bogged down in re-versing this whole book. I doubt I’m even going to make money off this thing. Why am I spending so much time on it?

I had to really fight with myself over this. I decided that even doing a little a day was better than doing nothing. It wasn’t going to do itself. Every day I’d work on re-versing one post. Some days I could fix two or three. Meanwhile, I was still writing a new post every day. This is in addition to running a household and working a full-time job.

Finally I was done. I started looking around for help in formatting. I have a friend who has self-published books and I thought I could hire her. She told me that she’s gone out of the book business, so she gave me the name and contact information of someone she worked with. I dislike contacting new people, but I finally worked up the courage. Turns out she too was unavailable, so she gave me the number and contact information for yet another person. By this point I wanted to do it all on my own or give up, again. But I pushed on.

His price was too high. I couldn’t get how I should be expected to give a stranger $500 to make my book look pretty on the inside. I had done all the work putting it together – he was just going to polish it. He didn’t even have to edit it. He wasn’t going to touch the words – just tweak the margins and put page numbers and headers in. I shopped around for other people who provide this service and found similar amounts. I even edited out 10K words of it to reduce the cost. I figured I could publish those chapters later in a second book, depending on how well this one does.

Remember that I still don’t think I’m going to make money on this. I still don’t have any spare time to do all of this. I’m shoehorning all of this into everything else I have to do to pay the bills.

Then I hit another snag. I found out that the RSV translation is fine to quote from only under specific circumstances. I was looking up the exact wording on how to cite my use of it, and the citation said “Used by permission”. It turns out that permission is automatically granted up to 500 verses. After that, you have to contact the copyright holder and get written permission. That is The National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA. I looked up their contact information and emailed them. I still have not heard a response, and it has been a week.

I am not going to take the time to count how many verses I have used, but I’m certain it is over 500. Time is slipping by. I’d like to publish this by Christmas.

Sure, in a way, it is already published. It still exists on my Betsy Beadhead blog. I created a second blog called “The Empty Cross Community” in order to put it together in a logical order. The words are out there. People are reading it and commenting on it. Two posts have been published in the Huffington Post. But it isn’t the same. It isn’t a real, physical book. I want that. Maybe some of that comes from having grown up in libraries. Maybe some of that comes from having an English degree. Books are special. Sure, the words are special – but there is something about having an actual printed book with real pages to turn that is satisfying and substantial.

Even the title was up in the air. I’d thought about using “The Empty Cross Community” for it, but found that there is a sculpture of a cross called “The Empty Cross”. There is a “trademark” symbol after that name. I wrote the group that is connected to the sculpture to ask for permission to use the name and didn’t hear back. This was yet another thing that blocked my forward progress. I’ve since contacted them again and found that they have the trademark on their design for the cross, but not the name. They can’t trademark the name (they tried) because it is not unique. I’m free to use it for my book title if I want, but by now I’ve committed to using another name. It is “Leaving Church, Finding Jesus”.

Meanwhile, I’ve started re-versing this book once again. I’ve saved it as a separate file, just in case the copyright holder gets back to me. Once again I’m grateful for the Bible Gateway website for making this a not-so-painful process of copying and pasting. There are a lot more examples of “thy” and “-th” at the end of verbs in the American Standard Version. There is nothing I can do about it. I’m using this version because it was put out in 1901 and is most certainly in the public domain. Anybody can use it for anything, with no restrictions on the amount of verses used.

Sometimes I feel like I’m in the story of Balaam with his donkey. Is there something in the way that is preventing me from moving forward that I can’t see? In that case an angel stood in his way and only the donkey could see it. He beat the donkey but it refused to budge, keeping him alive. Or is this entire ordeal like the struggle of Jacob wrestling with the angel all night long? He got blessed in the morning because he didn’t give up.

Maybe it is a little of both.

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So, I’m writing a book. (On believing in myself and my message.)

Recently I’ve had several people interested in the fact that I am writing a book. They ask what it is that I’m writing about. I always hesitate. I started to wonder why.

Perhaps I’m hesitating because I don’t know if these people are religious or not. A lot of people have a knee-jerk reaction against organized religion, and religion in general. I understand that. In fact that’s part of what I’m writing about. But I don’t want to say I’m writing about God and Jesus and have them immediately stop listening to me. So I have to figure out a way to warm them up to the idea.

It reminds me of the elevator speech that I would give to people when they would show up at the library. There were members of my former church who I would see at the library and they would say “How come I haven’t seen you in church in a while?” I needed an answer for that. Sometimes they wouldn’t say anything at all and I would tell them anyway. I wanted them to understand that how we are doing church is completely opposite of how Jesus wanted us to do it.

What I’m doing is stripping everything down and rebuilding from the ground up.

Some churches are doing what they’re supposed to be doing. Some churches are doing what is right, loving mercy, and walking humbly with God. Some churches are clothing the naked, visiting the sick and imprisoned, and feeding the hungry. But some churches seem to be more about celebrating God than following God. They get that good feeling once a week by saying that they are Christians but during the rest of the week they don’t live like they are. Jesus didn’t die so that we can get dressed up for an hour once a week and sing songs. He didn’t die so that we would live badly. So part of what I’m writing is about saying what we are supposed to do.

Perhaps part of why I hesitate when they ask me what I’m writing about is because of my lack of credentials. I don’t have a degree in theology. I’ve not been to Divinity school. And let’s face it – I’m a woman. The apostle Paul says that women shouldn’t talk in church. So by extension they certainly shouldn’t talk about church. But let’s look at who Jesus called. Jesus called the leftovers, the has-beens, the never-was. Jesus called tax collectors, fishermen, and laborers. Jesus called people who weren’t authorities at all. That’s important to remember. So just because I don’t have any training doesn’t mean that I don’t know what I’m talking about.

I want to wake people up to their true calling as followers of Jesus. I want us all to connect with the true Vine that is Jesus. I want everybody to know that they are ministers, and they are called. I want people to read the Bible for themselves, rather than have it fed to them. I want the church to be about the people and not about the building.

That. That is what my book is about.

Will it sell a million copies? Will I get to retire and write all day long? Doubtful. Will it change minds? Hopefully.

It is already written – it is in this blog. I’m just putting it together in book form and then self-publishing it. Fiddling with the format is tedious. I’ve looked at getting help for this and the price they want to charge exceeds what I think I’ll make on it. So I’m plodding along on my own. Meanwhile, I’ve got more ideas coming. It is hard to juggle it all. But I think the first thing I have to do is believe that this book needs to happen and stop apologizing for writing it and for believing that it should exist.