No one told me mornings in Southern California aren’t as special as they sound. The “marine layer” covered us with a midwestern gray. I was in for a few days attending a conference with a noisy house full of guys. I headed for the back porch to process what I was feeling.  

I sat terrified in a bendy plastic chair drinking a bad cup of coffee. In forty-five minutes I was walking into a meeting with a large publishing house clueless about what I was going to say.

My first book was under contract, but another book suddenly came upon me a few weeks earlier. “Book #2” was freakish. I would wake up every morning and the book would jump out of me like a run-on sentence from a five year old. Max Lucado likens the process of writing a book to “giving birth to barbed wire”. No barbed wire (yet), just surprising delight. My current publisher and I had a verbal agreement to publish book “Book #2”. 

My thoughts were racing, and my heart was pumping.

Why are we even meeting?  

What is the plan?

Should I tell them about my books, and prime the pump for the future? 

Should I scramble to come up with another idea? 

Should I just shoot the California breeze and get to know them? 

I felt like I was about to spend a hundred dollar bill on junk food. I didn’t want to squander this moment. So I pulled out my journal and wrote down a few ideas. After one page of pure garble I had an idea; a book about unrealized potential…and helping others realize it. It felt natural. I’ve learned to follow paths that feel natural. It felt like I was having a conversation with an old friend. No pretense. No posturing. No pressure. 

I scribbled down thoughts for fifteen minutes until I was rudely interrupted. It was time to leave for the meeting. I had another fifteen minutes to process my idea while crammed in the back seat of a suburban. I was walking to the meeting spot and my only plan was an idea that had never crossed my mind until thirty minutes ago. As I waited at a cafe table my thoughts fought against me, “Is this literary suicide? Don’t squander this chance, Briggs! You’re going to waste their time.” After handshakes and five minutes of small talk they asked if I had an idea to pitch. Thoughts came out in my native tongue. The words weren’t done up for a night out; they were fresh out of bed on a Saturday morning wearing yoga pants. I talked like I had nothing to lose except the last thirty minutes. They connected to it. They saw it. The “got” it.       

As they hurried off to their next meeting I walked away with a business card and a promise of an email. I didn’t know whether to shout or to laugh. The canvas was still drying when I brought it to auction, but in reality the idea had taken my whole life to germinate. God had been etching Everyone’s a Genius on my heart one leader, one apprentice, one conversation at a time.  

The best books aren’t written on paper and screens, they’re written on the canvas of time. They’re weathered by tears and laughs and boredom and struggle. They’ve survived seasons of joy and sorrow and surprise and doubt.  

Perhaps your message is too close for you to see it. Perhaps you’re accidentally living it right now. Every message has a moment. I’m just glad I had a notebook to catch it when it finally popped out of me.