November 2008

I’ve been thinking about Caroline’s Ferdinandsen’s post on called A Case for a Little Spiritual Quarantine. One line in particular has haunted me since I read it.  Caroline writes, “my Christian faith has suffered from my chronic reading, interfacing, and networking this past year.”  

I find this to be a chilling statement. 

I do not know Caroline beyond her published articles in faith-based magazines, blog posts, comments and Conversant profile. But, if this writer/educator is finding it difficult to discern among thoughts and perspectives of the bloggers and authors out there, who else is reading books, blogs and articles and struggling to find a foothold?

This question led me to ask my writing-self some probing and personal questions. Specifically, I wondered what part my words play that struggle?  Why is it that I write what I write? Do I take the time to consider how my words might impact a devout reader? A questioning reader? An unbelieving reader?  Does it matter? What is my intention? Am hoping to entertain? To teach? To win an argument? Am I just trying to sound smart? Or to impress? Or be funny?  Are my choices of topic and tone and perspective serving the reader? Or am I serving myself? In a nutshell, are the things I write part of the problem or part of the solution?

In her piece, Caroline made a somewhat counter-blog suggestion–for people to take some time off from reading to get alone with God and the Bible to gain a little clarity. I wonder if I might add my own counter-blog suggestion and ask that we take a break from writing long enough to consider these questions here together.

All you writers out there…would love to hear your thoughts…


I have never been one to set writing goals.  In fact, despite the fact that many creative and prolific writers swear by them, there is something about having to write a certain number of pages or for a certain number of hours every day that sucks the creative wind right out of me. I prefer the romantic notion of waiting for the muse to inspire over the practical matter of sitting down and hammering out a certain number of words a day.  

But, in writing as in life, the practical often trumps the romantic and we are forced to create within the bounds of deadlines and responsibilities.  For me, that means delivering a 60,000 word manuscript to my acquisitions editor by February 15, 2009.  This is not a loose deadline.  I am contractually bound to make it happen.

To get there, I’ve set a personal goal of writing 1000 words a day, six days a week for six weeks. 

In an effort to prevent self-sabotage, I’ve decided not to “bank” words.  If I write 1500 words today, I still have to write 1000 tomorrow. If I succeed in writing at this pace I will have a rough draft by December 15 and two months to rewrite and edit.  I’ve never done this before, but I think this sounds like a workable plan.

And yet, I keep wondering…

“What about creativity?”

“What about beauty?”

“Is it possible to write (or paint, of sculpt) artfully on a tight deadline?”

“Is creative discipline an oxymoron?”

Would love to hear your thoughts… 



After more than four years of drafting, bumbling, abandoning projects and starting new ones I am thrilled to share that a large publishing house has agreed to take on my first book. It is a personal narrative called (surprise, surprise) Flirting with Faith: My Journey from Atheism to Agnosticism to a Devoted Life.  

This is a mini-miracle for several reasons.  

  • I’m still floored by the fact that I wound up a Christian in the first place, so becoming a Christian author is further evidence that God both has a sense of humor and that He can (and does) do things that are beyond our wildest expectations.
  • New and untested voices are risky for publishers and I am about as much of a nobody from nowhere as one can be in this marketplace.  
  • While I’ve had articles published in magazines, I have no big ministry or church or radio/tv show to use as a stepping-off point to promote this book. This is a real sticking point for most publishers.
  • I am writing a personal narrative which is a tough sell in any market, not to mention today’s competitive and changing publishing marketplace.
And yet, against the odds, I find myself with a fantastic agent, an incredibly supportive editor and a February 15 deadline to produce and deliver a 60,000 word manuscript for release in Spring of 2010.  
So, like my own blogging reality show, I am shifting the focus of my blog.  From today forward (with a few exceptions I am sure) I hope to open a conversation with other aspiring and working writers about the joys and challenges of writing.  From esoteric questions like what it takes to find and authentic voice to practical matters like what it takes to find an agent, I am hoping that this blog (which has now been moved from the “Spirituality” category to “Creative Arts”) will be a source of shared information, encouragement, collaboration and prayer for people who feel called to write.
In addition to sharing anything useful that I have learned so far and my ups and downs as journey from here to Spring 2010, I am hoping to interview authors, agents, publishers, magazine editors, marketers, book club leaders and anyone else who might help us to grow in our pursuit of the writing life.  
If you are a writer or you’re interested in writing, I hope you’ll join me.