A Dream in Which Every Single Review of My Book was Negative

I woke up on Thursday morning having had the strangest dream. At first I couldn’t remember it – the dream was nearly gone, like a name you can’t quite remember. But then, there it was, and remembering it brought a hollow pit into my stomach.

I had dreamed that every single review of my new book was a negative one. Every. Single. Review.

In the half-light of early morning, it felt nonsensical, almost humorous, but I could just about still remember that feeling of crushing disappointment when I scanned first the Amazon rankings and saw all 1- and 2-star reviews, followed by email after email of prominent, negative reviews. And as I woke up and started walking through the day, I kept coming back to the dream.

What if all of my reviews are negative?

And then:

Why am I dreaming about reviews?

* * * * *

Maile has been reading a book lately that I obviously need to pick up. It’s Life Without Lack by Dallas Willard. She keeps reading me these mind-bending quotes about having everything we need. At the beginning of the introduction, Willard quotes Charles Spurgeon:

We have all things and abound; not because I have a good store of money in the bank, not because I have skill and wit with which to win my bread, but because the Lord is my shepherd.

Willard goes on to explain, using Psalm 23 as his foundation, that one of the weirdest, most transformational truths of being a Christian is that with God, you do not ever lack anything. And he’s not talking about an avoidance of lack that equates to a name-it-and-claim-it prosperity gospel that comes fully equipped with the biggest house and best car and a Scrooge McDuck style money silo. No, Willard’s point is that precisely in the moments when the world would look at you and think you lack everything important – a good retirement account, a well-paying job, the trappings of a successful life – you can live and believe and know that actually you lack nothing.

Of course, many of us feel a sense of lack in areas outside of our finances.

We feel like the lack is us. We are not enough.

How often do I look at my writing life and feel a sense of lack? How often do I wish I could sell more books, have more reviews, generate more followers?

Could it be, could it really be, that I lack nothing?

Could it be that I am exactly where I am supposed to be, that I have exactly what it is I’m supposed to have?

* * * * *

I woke up Sunday morning to find the following comment by my friend and bookseller extraordinaire, Byron Borger:

So, my fear was alleviated. Not everyone hated my book! (Apparently, the only real lack in my life is cellphone battery life!)

Still, even after receiving such kind words, I’m left with a desire to move into a space where my contentment and satisfaction aren’t based on the most recent review my work has received, but in a sense of having all things, and lacking nothing, because I know that God is my shepherd.

Can I get there? Can I actually get to that place?

I feel like I’m close.

* * * * *

Now for some news:

Preordering an author’s book is one of the best ways to support the writers you love!

While writing #LightFromDistantStars, I kept a journal recording goals, progress, and struggles. I’d love to email you a PDF of that 51-page journal.

First, preorder from any of these booksellers: http://shawnsmucker.com/light-from-distant-stars/ … (If you preorder from Byron Borger’s store, Hearts and Minds, just note that in the receipt/order # field.)

Then enter your details here: http://eepurl.com/guv5kb

The journal will be emailed to you immediately, and you’ll also be entered into a drawing to win signed copies of my other books and a $50 bookstore gift card!