I asked my friend and colleague, Dr. Sandra Glahn, to submit a guest blog on a subject of her choosing. She blessed me with a 4-part series on writing. Dr. Glahn serves as Associate Professor of Media Arts and Worship at Dallas Theological Seminary, where she has also held the post of editor-in-chief of DTS’s award-wining magazine, Kindred Spirit ˆ(2008-2015). She holds a master of theology degree from DTS and a Ph.D. in doctoral studies at the the University Texas at Dallas. Dr. Glahn’s more than twenty books relate to bioethics, sexuality, and reproductive technologies as well as ten Bible studies in the Coffee Cup Bible Study series. The woman knows whereof she speaks. Heres her blog site: http://aspire2.com/
LESSONS I’VE LEARNED ABOUT WRITING (Part 1)
Have something worth saying. In his book Culture Care, artist Makoto Fujimura tells a story he confesses may be legendary about a Yale student taking Hebrew from the great Old Testament scholar Brevard Childs. The student, discontent with his grades, asked the scholar how he could raise them. Childs’s answer: “Become a deeper person.”
Peggy Noonan writer of seven books on politics, religion, and culture, and weekly columnist for The Wall Street Journal, was at one time the speech writer for the man considered The Great Communicator. In her book Simply Speaking, she says that what moves people in a speech is the logic. The words “Tear down this wall, Mr. Gorbachev” are not all that poetic when taken at face value. But they express something that resonates in the human heart. In the words of Robert Frost, “Something there is that doesn’t love a wall.”
In the same way that logic is what moves people in a speech, logic is what moves people in writing. And to have logic, to move people, we must have something worth saying. In fact, probably about 90% of writing is having something worth saying. And how do we get something worth saying? By expanding the world of ideas to which we expose ourselves and by cultivating a rich inner life.
Decrease your vision. That is, “think local.” Start with your family. Doug Bender, the bestselling author of I am Second: Real Stories. Changing Lives. wrote a book for an audience of one. When Doug’s wife had a miscarriage, it grieved the Bender’s little girl. So Doug wrote a child’s book about death and loss just for her. My husband’s favorite seminary professor told his students, “Stop thinking you will go out and save the world, and instead become the best family member you can be, the most grateful child of your parents, the greatest and most dependable encourager in your church, the best contributor to your community.” We influence the world one small corner at a time. Cherish the small.
In the days when Abraham’s descendants had been carried off from Israel to Babylon, their prophet, Jeremiah, sent a letter to King Nebuchadnezzar for the surviving leaders in exile. Jeremiah’s counsel: “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce…. Seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile” (Jere. 29:1–7). Seeking the good of the city where we live is always good counsel. So write for your kids, if you have any. Contribute good columns to the local paper. Donate some book reviews for your favorite local web site. Do readings at the library. And do so simply to give back and because you wish to make your corner of the world a better place.
Be looking for Sandi’s new book, Solomon Latte, part of her Coffee Cup Bible Studies series. Due out June 10, 2016.