A Behind The Scenes Peak at Soul Bare: Stories of Redemption

You guys are in for a treat today. In fact, it’s kind of like a double treat, so, you’re welcome.

Not only do you get a hilarious peak into the creative process of real life editor, Cara Sexton (which made me feel a whole lot better about my own creative process, btw), but you also get a sneak peak into the making of Soul Bare: Stories of Redemption, which officially releases August 5th! That’s tomorrow!

You guys. This book is amazing. It’s a compilation of stories from so many of my favorite authors and each one is real, raw, personal and gutsy. Do yourself a favor: Order it. Go to your local bookstore and buy it. Borrow it if you have to. Just get your hands on it! Read it. Let these stories refresh your tired soul. Be blessed.

Okay, here is Cara’s post!

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I’ve always been fascinated by the creative process of other writers, and I also aspire to one day teach writing classes. Because of my unparalleled expertise in this area, when Amber asked me if I’d consider guest posting on her blog (ohmygosh, did you hear that?! Amber Salhus asked me to guest post on her blog EVERYBODY BE COOL), I figured you all could take a lesson from me on one of the important aspects of blogging/writing/being basically awesome in every way.

Here are 10 easy steps for writing a guest post for one of your favorite bloggers when the opportunity presents itself:

Step 1: Promise to deliver it on Sunday or Monday.

Step 2: On Tuesday, begin existential panic.

Step 3: Set alarm for 6 a.m. Wednesday morning because you are going to get this thing done. When you wake up to some shrill, horrifying sound coming from an electronic device on your nightstand and school is not even in session, shut it up, for the love. Go back to sleep. (Duh.)

Step 4: Wake up at 10 a.m. because you are in a very strange new season of life where your kids do not wake three hours before the sun but instead have, in their awkward teenagehood, morphed into something more closely resembling their mother (read: sloths). Remember that you have a firm lifelong commitment to NEVER, EVER wake a sleeping child (at least without the threat of school administrators and pesky truancy laws), and because everyone who has ever been within earshot of a child knows that the only way to not wake a sleeping child is to stay very quiet and still (In bed. Asleep.), and because you are such a selfless and giving parent, you make this great sacrifice for the sake of the children.

Step 5: Drink all the coffee. Shower and get dressed for the day (by which I mean, of course, stay in the clothes you wore yesterday and also slept in last night and thank the gods for dry shampoo because standing underneath an assault of water falling on your head and navigating a razor is just way more than you can manage this morning afternoon).

Step 6: Drink more coffee while you stare at a blank page and self-deprecate like an emo kid who just got dumped.

Step 7: Reconsider your entire future plan (of which you have staked a whole college degree and not a little bit of monetary debt) because suddenly you are doubting your ability to teach writing, or write anything at all, or wake up in the actual morning on a regular basis. Think hard, again, about all that advice to do what you love and the money will follow and commit with everything in your soul to your alternate career dream of surfing Pinterest while drinking wine because anything is possible if you just believe.

Step 8: Despite the fact that you haven’t written any actual words, take a writing break for a coffee refill (obvs), and since your little beasters precious babies are now awake and trying to kill each other, engage in a twenty-minute fight family discussion that you think has something to do with YouTube but since it is only noon and therefore still very early in the morning, the details are still pretty foggy so you issue your “because I’m the mom, that’s why!” with a flourish, give the look of death to your darlings on your way out, and return to your very important work.

Step 9: Write some words. Hate them all. Admit all your parenting failures and irrational anxieties to total strangers. Gush over the awesomeness of your blog host until you make it weird.

Step 10: Remember that although you are a total failure at adulting and also barely the okayest parent ever, you did somehow manage to just publish an actual book with a bunch of really rad writers (what?!) so HEY, LOOK EVERYBODY, IT’S A SHINY NEW BOOK:

Soul Bare: Stories of Redemption by Emily P. Freeman, Sarah Bessey, Trillia Newbell, and more.

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(Oooooh, aaaaaaaah.)

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Once upon a time, five years ago, God whispered a crazy idea straight into my heart. I knew it was crazy then and although I am not typically a terribly brave person, I did a brave thing because I believed in the crazy idea almost as much as I believe in the magical powers of coffee and that’s a lot, yo.

I asked some of the best writers I knew (Sarah Bessey, Emily P. Freeman, Shannan Martin, Jennifer Dukes Lee, Holley Gerth, and lots of others) to tell me their biggest secrets and greatest failures in this life so that I could then publish it all for the whole world to read.

No, really. I did. (I told you I was crazy.)

And you guys? They said yes. They wrote raw and real about the hardest things they’ve ever gone through, the most vulnerable, hidden parts of their souls. They tore off their masks, and stripped naked to reveal their whole broken selves and their not-cleaned-up-for-church lives of messy faith.

They (we) talked about redemption the way redemption really works—with bloody knees and battle-weary hearts, face-down in the carpet—which is, I think, the kind of stories we keep in the shadows because somewhere along the line we got the message that Christian faith means keeping up appearances and looking like we have it all together.

That is not what anybody’s truth looks like. I am here to tell you. Over the five years it took for this book to go from crazy idea to bookstore shelves, I received hundreds of submissions for this project…I read so many real-life stories that my heart broke open in a hundred directions and I will never be the same.

We are all a beautiful mess.

Don’t believe the lie that everybody has it together but you. We are all flailing in one way or another. It’s time we start telling each other the truth instead of dressing up a lie and sending it off to church. Your {real} story matters. Tell it.

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Get your copy of Soul Bare here.

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Cara Sexton is a married mom of four who describes herself as “part monk, part punk.” She is the general editor of Soul Bare: Stories of Redemption, published by InterVarsity Press, and is currently writing a spiritual memoir while also completing her BFA degree in creative writing at Goddard College. When she isn’t writing, she is probably decorating, daydreaming, kissing freckles, scouring flea markets for vintage trinkets, or preparing for her next big adventure. You can (try to) keep up with her at carasexton.com.

2 thoughts on “A Behind The Scenes Peak at Soul Bare: Stories of Redemption

  1. SUSAN SHIPE

    I love that you reached out to those women and they said YES. I’ve had an idea brewing in my heart and soul for (probably) ten or so years for a book – but I’ve never said yes to it. Glad I came over and read this today.

  2. Stephanie Suire

    Love this, because I have a very similar writing process. Although mine is the continued promise to wake up and write for an hour before I go to work, which has happened exactly 1 time in 5 years. Writing takes place in the stolen moments of the day, on coffee break, after lunch, while watching my daughters gymnastics class, etc.

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