Throw the Seed

Throw the Seed 1

It’s April in Minnesota, and everything is cold and wet and growing.

There is a head cold moving through our family, and I am going on Week #3 of headaches and congestion and Nyquil and asleep by nine. This is mostly why I haven’t been writing much on the blog this month. (Even as I type this, it feels like half of the words are getting lodged in the stuffing that seems to be filling the inside of my head.)

The cold is just one of the things that have made this years’ transition from winter to spring seem difficult and unpredictable. Our brand new baby magnolia bloomed beautiful for about a second – and then four consecutive days of cold rain stripped it bare. The white petals are pressed brown now into the driveway, next to the beached worms wriggling desperately toward the soil.

I’d forgotten how hard spring can be.

And of course, as it so often seems with me, my internal landscape seems to be synched up with the seasons turning around me.

My book came out a little over a month ago. The initial stress and angst and fear have passed along with the March snowstorms, but I’m still very aware that release is a process.

To move a book into the world, you have to stay present with it for while. You have to attend to it. It’s less like releasing a balloon into the sky, more, I imagine, like planting a garden.

Not that I know all that much about gardening.

The most I’ve ever managed is the plunging of already-started herbs into our big green planter. I am no gardener, and what I know about seeds and earth and the ways that they combine to create beauty and goodness and nourishment is miniscule.

I finished the most beautiful book this month by my friend Christie Purifoy: Roots & Sky: A Journey Home in Four Seasons. In the book Christie cultivates and tends to her new home, planting seeds at the right times, believing that they will grow.

Before I read her book, I had only the vaguest idea that you planted different things at different times of the year. I know about as much about tending to growing seeds as I do about tending to a book. My book.

For all the Book Marketing 101 articles I read online, I still feel like I’m missing that essential knowing. The proverbial “green thumb.” Whatever marketing gene people have that makes it feel natural to reach into different places and plant your words, your work, your ideas there…I don’t have that. I don’t know what time of year you’re supposed to send out your press release. For all of my efforts, I still suck at Twitter.

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Is it weird to write a blog post about my struggle with book marketing?

Does it seem like a pathetic ploy? Like a whining, simpering plea for you to buy my book?

I don’t mean for it to. But I also don’t know how to approach the page except for from exactly where I am.

And where I am is the cold, tempestuous spring of my second book release.

Certainly you don’t have to be a writer with a newly released book to feel this: the long, exhausting work of faithfulness. Live a great story, all the big bloggers are saying, and it sounds glamorous enough until you realize that so much of this is this plodding, frustrating, invisible fidelity to your dream, to your calling.

There is nothing sexy about it. In the movie of your life it would be left on the cutting room floor, or set to a Death Cab song and made into an inspiring montage.

No one wants to watch this part: The writer spends five hours alternatively looking out the window and writing sentences on her computer for an essay that will hopefully, maybe, help a few more people find her book. Halfway through, she has to take a two-hour break to write web copy for a collection agency. Because the dream, for all of it’s come-true-ness, does not actually pay any kinds of bills.

And what I’m trying to say is that even though I’m not a gardener, I understand that so much of bringing something beautiful up from the earth is dirt and weeds and sore knees and prickling, half-asleep toes.

There is a part that you must do – a piece for which you are responsible for. But so little of the growing is actually up to you, in the end.

Throw the Seed 2

In the fall, as my book transitioned from my hands to the hands of the marketing department, I read Luke 13:18-19 in my reading from Phyllis Tickle’s Divine Hours prayer book. In the prayer book, she uses the NJB version of the Bible. It’s a version I’ve never heard of, but which translates the following verse as such:

“Jesus went on to say, ‘What is the Kingdom of God like? What shall I compare it with? It is like a mustard seed which a man took and threw into his garden; it grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air sheltered in its branches.”

I was stopped by the verb used in this version. Threw. I’ve never seen it written like that before, and I haven’t seen it since.

He threw the mustard seed, the Scripture says.

He didn’t obsess over where to put it. He didn’t plant it perfectly. There is a chance that he didn’t even know what time of year it was supposed to go in the ground (although I’m taking liberty here; he was a farmer. He probably did. But I don’t, and this verse seems to say to me, that’s okay, that’s okay, that’s okay.)

I feel a sense of release, of relief, as I read that verse over again. If there has been a theme verse for this release (which there isn’t, because that’s totally a thing of my evangelical past), it’s this one.

Throw the seed.

Throw it toward the soil.

Throw it, and be done with it.

SOME of this depends on you – it’s true. You have to take the action. You have to lift your arm, let go, release the seed into the air. But so much of it has nothing to do with you. The soil, the sun, the rain.

The God who makes things grow – who has always been about making things grow.

After all, there is so much already there – in the tiny heart of a little seed. An entire world.

And it is not me who draws the goodness forth and turns it into shelter for the weary.

It’s God. It has always, only, been God.

Throw the Seed 3

The deck is rain-soaked today, and the sky is gray, and I’m feeling caught in the tempestuous, transitional part of obedience.

And I don’t know what that looks like for you, but I know that I’m not the only one here, in the unglamorous, exhausting middle.

You started the ministry. You left that job. You committed to that man, that woman. You had a baby. You went to the doctor. You left your abuser.

You expected it to be fireworks and celebration, and it was, for a second. And then it was a lot of uncertainty.

And what I’m telling myself in this cold, rainy April is what I want to say to us all:

Pick up one seed. Throw it toward the spacious place.

This is all you have to do. Every day, one seed. One moment in which you are attending to the dream, the hope, the new thing.

Throw the seed, and let it go.

After all, so little of this is up to you.

34 thoughts on “Throw the Seed

  1. I heard your interview on Faith Conversations and loved it. I feel like this blog post is keeping that conversation going. Thank you.

  2. I just read both of your books!!! And, for what it’s worth, you planted seeds in my life. My job is to write curriculum for a church youth group and whereas I get a great sense of purpose from doing my work – doubt creeps in like crazy because of my fundamentalist Christian upbringing. I feel like I’m in a season of throwing seeds – writing a book, blog, curriculum, babies…and I’m not sure what any of it is growing! But, your words in your books and this post are helping me let go of the growing and just keep throwing seeds even if the journey feels totally dark. Thanks Addie!

    1. Thank you so much for these kind words Lindsey. So glad that my books have played a role in your own creative journey. Keep throwing those seeds. I imagine things are growing from your faithfulness that you could never have imagined.

  3. Addie, this post really hit home today. I am a writer who just had her first memoir published (you found my blog once, after I reviewed When We Were on Fire), and I have had to make peace with just letting go of the release process. This is because my memoir was published within three weeks of my second son’s birth, in February. I have been in the postpartum “cave,” and have not felt anywhere near able to attend to both “babies,” the book and the boy. So my book’s promotion has been left up to my publisher, my co-author from a previous writing project, and my dad, a salesman in central Minnesota, who is lugging a case of my books around to his sales calls! In one way, having my hands tied from promoting my book has been a blessing; it has allowed me not to worry about it, and that is for the best, because “after all, so little is up to [me.]” Thanks for your post.

    Whilst in my cave, I have managed to read Night Driving and a couple other memoirs (really a lifeline for me at a time when I feel disconnected from other women, moms, writers…), and I thank you for sharing your experiences so openly. One thing I’d love to read about in your next (?) memoir: more of your motherhood journey, especially the early days with the babes. Have you thought of writing more about this? (One of my only disappointments in Night Driving was where you stated, at the end of one of the chapters, that the birth of your sons had totally changed your life years ago…but those couple paragraphs were about all you said about that.)

    My first book deals with the same stage of life and many of the same themes you touch on in your first book: childhood faith, disillusionment, depression, moving awkwardly into adulthood, marriage, kids, even Minnesota… (although I had an opposite experience of making meaning of my childhood faith later in adulthood…and beating a lot of the depression). My next book will be on my early motherhood experiences–it would be fascinating to compare notes with your experiences, coming from similar backgrounds as we do. Bless you in your journey!

    1. So glad this post hit home Lindsey (though I’m sorry your release process has been so hard!) Your right — I didn’t get too much into my kids and the way they’d changed me, mostly because I mentioned it in WWWOF, and also because I have NO IDEA what I would write about faith and motherhood. I feel like I’m still figuring out how to pass faith on to my children (and like most of the time, I’m doing it badly!) I look forward to reading about YOUR motherhood experiences though! Thanks for commenting!

  4. I love this! It’s so encouraging to someone who’s stuck in that middle, slogging through until graduation and also in that place of wondering what’s next. I’m learning again to be where I am and be there well. So thanks for the encouragement, and the reminder that I’m not alone in that struggle in the middle.

  5. I really appreciated this post. Life and faith is such a journey and much of it is the hidden, unglamorous labor of just being faithful. And yet, there are the moments of intense growth and beauty! I feel like I’m just entering into a new growth phase of my journey as I follow a dream that God has put into my heart. I loved your concluding remarks: “This is all you have to do. Every day, one seed. One moment in which you are attending to the dream, the hope, the new thing. Throw the seed, and let it go. After all, so little of this is up to you.” Thanks for sharing your words!

  6. “the long, exhausting work of faithfulness. Live a great story, all the big bloggers are saying, and it sounds glamorous enough until you realize that so much of this is this plodding, frustrating, invisible fidelity to your dream, to your calling.

    There is nothing sexy about it. In the movie of your life it would be left on the cutting room floor, or set to a Death Cab song and made into an inspiring montage.”

    Amen. And now I’m going to spend the morning looking for the snapshots that would be used to make an inspiring montage. Because that idea is brilliant. A montage of a tired mom working up the umph to homeschool her three inquisitive, energetic children sounds better than the way I was picturing the morning going.

    I’d currently like to turn my attempt at getting back to exercising into a montage. There’s just be one little clip of me gasping and sweating, then each blip would show me getting better, faster, stronger. Probably with cuter clothes and better hair. I’d be in shape by the next commercial.

  7. How on earth did I just spend three hours on book marketing, only to find your column about…book marketing? Yowsers. And the thing I’m learning right now feels like a complement to what you’re saying: There’s no one right way to do this. All we can do is the best we can. Strive for faithfulness and not for results. The most frustrating part is how many times I have to tell myself these things…over and over and over again. Wonderful insight, Addie, as always.

  8. This is like one beautiful slow clap for those of us in “the unglamorous, exhausting middle.” Whether it is book marketing or another aspect of our lives, it is just damn hard most of the time. But the hardness weighs lighter when I can remember that I am not in control of much of anything, and just release that into the universe. Thanks for this, Addie.

  9. I’m here too- in the exhausting place after the fire has died down. Thank you for these words and this encouragement- I’m hanging on it.

  10. This is so good. It is amazing how little of the actual growth is up to us – but we still have to show up. Thanks for sharing your notes from the “unglamorous middle,” Addie. Right there with you.

  11. So good to see you in this space, and particularly with these words. I feel a bit waterlogged these days, like I’ve been taking in so many new things, so much stimulus, but I just don’t have the capacity to do anything with it right now. I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to give myself time to just sit, to let it all soak in, and that there will be peace in that settling. This is my middle right now. Thank you for sharing yours. As always, your words are such a balm and a friend (as are you <3 ).

  12. “You started the ministry. You left that job. You committed to that man, that woman. You had a baby. You went to the doctor. You left your abuser.

    You expected it to be fireworks and celebration, and it was, for a second. And then it was a lot of uncertainty.”

    So entirely true.

    Also, spring is so hard.

  13. I finished Christie’s book a few weeks ago, and it so ministered my soul in similar ways. I’m feeling lost right now in a haze of motherhood and transition, and throwing the seed is something small and comforting. It feels doable, and it feels like grace. Thank you.

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