I haven't read it yet, but it's my new favorite book. Normal Kingdom Business by Andree Seu. This is how much I love her stuff: among the file folders in my desk drawer marked Financial, Sermon Notes, Writing, and School, is one marked Andree Seu. It's filled with essays I've printed out of hers. I'm not kidding.

But now, delightfully, she has them compiled together in a book. And with a title like Normal Kingdom Business, how can it go wrong? I have visions of great inspiration, deep meditation, and a little bit of, I confess, trepidation.

Beside being my favorite essayist, she's also the normal sort of person who provides inspiration to people like me. You know, the aspiring, tumbling, prone to messing up sort of people. Her husband died, she wrote a eulogy, someone sent it to World Magazine, it got published, now she's a senior writer for them. Plus she manages the coffee spot at a prestigious seminary in Philadelphia.

Her life's not perfect, she's clear enough about her foibles and falters, her kids' rebellion and her shortcomings. She still can't believe her good fortune, that people read what she writes and like it too. I think she probably pinches herself and cries in the corner sometimes. I know she forgets things a lot because she says so. I like Andree Seu. The same way I like carrot sticks and skim milk, good and good for me.

Inscribed on the inside of this book is a short message from the giver, a permanent reminder, as though the verbal one I get every day isn't enough: To my Dear Lore: WRITE!

Not your typical book inscription. Most of them say things like "READ!" or at least "Hope you'll like reading this!" This one, however, carries with it a responsibility that will hover over my shoulder while I read each essay, then long after my lamp has been turned off and my mind pieces strings of words together.

Ninety percent of the things I write never make it here, never make it to my file folder marked Writing, never make it to the notebook I keep by my bed for quick jots; ninety percent of the things I write I never read again. I'm a very good non-writer. I'm very good at being good with something I don't ever do. Most of us are.

Which is why Andree Seu is my recent hero. Because she goes about normal kingdom business and spews forth a book of essays. Because someone told Andree Seu that not only could she write, but that she must WRITE!

Because somewhere I bet Andree Seu has a book someone gave her some Christmas. A book that she knew would be her favorite too, once she got past the charge of the inscription.

December 2007