Saturday, March 14, 2009

The Shack, Part 2

At the end of February, I posted a blog of my review of The Shack. Since then it's been my privilege to hear the author, William P. Young, speak at an Oregon Christian Writers meeting. What a charming man, and what a story he has to tell!

For starters, he's never gone by the name "William." He's Paul Young to all who know him personally. He told of friends telephoning him saying, "Paul, you've got to read this book The Shack!" not realizing he's the William P. Young who wrote it.

Young calls himself "A roadie for the Holy Spirit." He says, "Two years ago nobody cared what I had to say about anything. Now I talk to thousands of people--and I'm as dumb as I was then!" He feels the best part of his new found celebrity is the opportunity to talk about Jesus to secular audiences. A week before he spoke to the Oregon Christian Writers, he was on "Good Morning America," and separately, given the keys to a city in Texas.

One of the things I enjoyed most about listening to Paul Young was the incredulity he displayed regarding his success. At one point he said he feels like he's on "The Truman Show," where everyone but him knows his life is really a TV program. He kept interjecting, "How goofy is this?" when he'd tell another story about his changed life.

In 2005, he prayed this prayer: "Papa (those of you who've read The Shack know that's Mackenzie's name for the Father--and Young admits he's Mackenzie), I will never ask you again to bless anything I do. Do you have something you're blessing? I want to be around you and be part of anything you have for me."

He wrote The Shack for his children and friends, and printed off fifteen copies at Kinko's. He senses God told him, "You give this to your kids; I'll give it to mine."

Young went on to tell us how the book grew from its Kinko's beginnings. Initially, he sent it to a friend to get some idea how to handle the email he was receiving from strangers who had read the Kinko copies. His friend called two other writers that he knew, and working together with Young, they organized the story into a clearer format. Once they felt it was ready, they queried 26 publishers--50% faith-based, 50% general market. The faith-based publishers said The Shack was too edgy--there was no market for it. The general market publishers said it had "too much Jesus to be marketable."

More next time--no one wants to read blogs that go on and on.

I'll tell you how these four men got the book into print, and some of the lessons he shared about God's unconditional love for his children.


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