Well, I’ve taken that first step (actually several steps) on that long journey of fulfilling one of my perennial resolutions: to read several books that will improve (1) my spiritual condition, (2) my historical knowledge, and (3) my writing abilities.
For the first of the three categories, I’ve been studying the section of Alexander Maclaren’s book Expositions of Holy Scripture dealing with the epistles of Peter. In the second category, I finally got around to reading–and finishing–David McCullough’s The Wright Brothers, a book that had long been on my to-read-when-I-get-around-to-it list. (What struck me most about their quest to fly is that whereas other aeronauts expected the government to foot their bills for experimentation, the Wrights paid for everything from their own pockets and were therefore frugal in their expenditures.)
As for the third category, I’ve completed both Writers on Writing (Mynhardt, ed.) and Annie Dillard’s The Writing Life. And I’ve begun a book that has surprised me because I actually am enjoying it despite the fact that I began it thinking that I wouldn’t. It is Writing for the Soul by Jerry Jenkins (he of Left Behind fame). It’s as much the story of his own development as a writer as it is a self-help for writers. Jenkins has written more than 150 books (many people have never even read that many), the first 90 of them without the benefit of an agent, so I think he knows how it’s done. Therefore, what he says about writing is worth serious consideration.
Here are ten gems that I’ve uncovered so far. I know they’ll help me; perhaps you’ll find them helpful too.
“The only way to write a book is with seat in chair.”
“Maintain your priorities and your writing will benefit.”
“[N]o writer ever arrives.”
“[P]ublishing has to be a byproduct of your writing, not the end goal.”
“Neither author nor publisher has much say or control over how many books sell. What you can control is how you write your next book. Work to your potential and let the results go.”
“[I]f you plan to make a life of writing, you must stand for something, have a carefully considered and lived-out worldview.”
“Write because you believe in something.”
“Allow yourself to be moved, and write what moves you.”
“We can’t write for other people’s souls unless ours are healthy.”
“[B]e your own toughest critic.”
It’s important to begin well. But it’s also important to persevere throughout the race and to finish well. That journey of a thousand miles that I’ve begun with those first few steps won’t end well unless I keep putting one foot in front of the other. I’m hoping and praying that I’ll do so throughout this year. But right now that next step is to put my seat into the chair and resume my writing!