I have been giving a lot of thought lately to truly getting down to writing, but I wasn’t sure what form it would take. I had originally thought I would compile the “best” from my blog of devotional writings, but that never really took shape. Besides, why would people pay for what I already have made available for free?
Another idea that occurred to me is to take some of the blog entries and expand them into full-length chapters in a book about…well, about something. I even thought that perhaps I would take that idea and run with it with new material of chapter length, working through a larger passage than I normally did. I had several passages in mind, and I had almost settled on one.
I decided I needed to talk to my pastor about this whole thing. I already had an idea about what it might take to self-publish. (I’ve been looking at that for a couple years now.) And I had been talking to Pastor before about how he went about getting his recent book published by an actual Christian publishing house. Still, I wanted to bounce ideas off of him and let him know that I had finally reached a point where I would be writing in earnest again.
Well, I went in with one idea, came out with another, and then got basically shot down. Don’t get me wrong, my pastor told it like it is, and after our meeting and a couple of subsequent emails, we came to the conclusion that I didn’t have the credentials to write seriously about Scripture. Sure, I have had a small measure of success at working on messages about short bits of Scripture, and the Bible studies I have been leading are all coming from a great deal of personal study on my own time, but truly I have never had any formal training nor much ministry experience beyond my role as a deacon and teacher. What right had I to be issuing a call for repentance or personal holiness or sanctification or revival when I have had so little experience “in the field”, much less formal education? I had no such right.
You might think I was deflated at that point, and honestly, I was…somewhat. But I also took it as a challenge. I was all ready to argue with Pastor about how several well-known Christian writers made headway without much experience. I was ready to justify my calling with extensive research supporting what I planned to write about. Instead of lashing out, I decided to sleep on it.
And then the next morning I woke up early with a clearer vision: I would write fiction. I could still write about the same themes, but I would fictionalize the account and work in the themes through the story. I had no sooner thought of that than the plot and characters started to take shape in my head. I could see the town where it would take place, name some of the characters and their roles in the story, and the main character was already fixed in place. I don’t need “credentials” to write fiction!
To be sure, my favorite Christian fiction book is “In His Steps”, which of course was written by a pastor, Robert Sheldon. Still, what mattered was not whether I had the experience as a pastor. What truly matters is that I have the chops for writing and a great story to tell. And I have to thank God Himself for the story, because it really isn’t mine, it’s His.
So now the real work begins. No trying to work up something to book length or compiling old stuff. Now the task is research, plotting, characterization, and a whole lot of writing, writing, and more writing. And, of course, lots of prayer, too.