Writing a Book Takes Perseverance
My mother would agonize over every word when she wrote. The message was in her but the English teacher in her critiqued everything in such a way that it hindered her expression. She wrote a lot starting with articles in the Christian Reformed Church magazine, The Banner.
I just checked and it’s still active:
The Banner is the official magazine of the Christian Reformed Church in North America showing how the Christian faith in its reformed expression makes sense for today's world.
Growing up I remember her being stressed about the deadline for her next article. She would say, “Bruce, I just have to finish this article and then we’ll drive it over to The Banner.” She’d finish and we’d drive it over, usually long after they were closed for the day. She’d put it in a folder and slide it under the front door. Walking back to the car, I remember the look of relief on her face. “Whew, made one more deadline.”
Such was my introduction to writing. All the way through high school my writing was marginal. I didn’t pay attention, run-on sentences were a norm, and punctuation was somewhat of an afterthought. Not good, and it drove my English teacher mother to distraction when she would help me with the next school paper.
It wasn’t until my adult years that my writing changed. Not in so much that my actual writing changed but that I changed, and it was and continues to be, reflected in my writing. When you have a message that needs to be shared, you care about its clarity and you want others to benefit from it, and you learn how to craft it.
When I say you learn to write, like all of life, it too is a journey. The journey has its joys and pleasures as well as its disappointments and frustrations.
I came across a quote from a writer of children’s books and it struck a chord.
“Since I was trying so hard to make books lead my life, I didn’t want to read them and then just put them back on the shelf and say, ‘good book,’ as if I was patting a good dog. I wanted books to change me, and I wanted to write books that would change others.”
― Jack Gantos, Hole in My Life
As you can imagine, the big connection was the last sentence. Particularly the final phrase, “I wanted to write books that would change others.”
I believe that God prepares you for what’s next in His plan for your life. For some, He has a message for you to share with others. For others, it is expressing love in helpful ways. For some, it is bringing new technology and its application to our lives. There is a potpourri of plans for lives and each of us has one or possibly more. When we reflect God’s will for our lives, He will prepare us and then uphold us during tough times. This is true of writing too.
When His will embeds a message in you or addresses a significant cultural and personal issue, writing is one of the mediums necessary to getting the message to a waiting world. God used the Bible to clarify his message which in turn changed the world. Go experience the Bible Museum in Washington, DC to see its worldwide influence from the creation of the world to the creation of The Church.
Exposing the messages assigned to me is both a joy and a necessity. It is through the process of refining my message that writing became important. When I put something down on paper it forces me to understand what I want to say and bring clarity to its description and questions inherent to the message.
For example, my message addresses the process of planning for, entering into, and living through the stages of retirement. So, how long a period are we talking about? Are there different stages? What are they and what are the issues connected to each stage? How do you know your call? Is it God’s will? And what to do next?
Writing a book with a message is not easy. I started four different times, one time getting 15,000 words into it when I realized it was not right. Writing takes perseverance and work. However, the work is not painful nor is it joyous all the time either.
When you bring a message exploding from God’s heart, reflecting what Jesus taught through the power of the Holy Spirit, the journey does not end because the message and its impact change lives. The message comes out of God’s concern for His people, our willingness to understand and respond, and reflects what He has created me to be. Yes, it is a journey, one requiring me, us, yes you, to be faithful for a lifetime.
There will be a couple of more blogs on this subject. My prayer is that by sharing my journey, you may be encouraged in yours.
Retirement Reformation Founder and Champion.