My Year in Writing
2006-2007 School Year
Some of my Tuesday Column readers don’t know that it is my practice writing... most past students know that. To me, writing is like playing the piano—one gets better by practice. When you read my columns here (or on one of my other blogs) ..when people read my Tuesday Column or blogs they are peeking into my practice room. I make mistakes, write and revise even after they are posted. I’m often simply “doing runs” to keep my writing fingers nimble. All this is practice is for my serious “concert performance” –writing for books and curriculum.
I’ve just wrapped up another year of writing (September through August). I’ve completed my own inventory of the year’s writing and publishing and it is here I do an annual inventory mostly to keep myself motivated, like looking back at the grass you’ve already cut to know you’re getting something done. I know some budding writers read this column so I’m also being accountable to you. So, in case you are still reading this, here are some of the “concerts” I’ve written or published this year:
(the original inventory has books pictured --it is located here
1. Walking the Trail of Death
Published summer ‘07. During the spring I finished up my journal of last summer’s walk from Indiana to Kansas. It is a recounting of the story of the original journey of the "removal" of the Potawatomi Indians from Indiana to Kansas while blending in my own story as a white man’s re-tracing every foot of the 660 mile journey—I was the first white man to do so since 1838. Studying the original journals and letters as I walked, and often sleeping at their actual campsites I pondered larger issues of injustice, sin, restitution, and penance. I didn’t think this book was good enough to publish the regular route so I self-published it through LULU.com and it is available there if you want to know what I did last summer—click the picture to see the Lulu page.
2. Knowing God
This neat booklet came out this year. My publisher has a cool series for churches to hand out to people—sort of “evangelistic tracts” but done with real class—something you’d be proud to give a friend, not those cheap newsprint tracts that holler at unbelievers with a turn-or-burn style. Writing an easy-going friendly pocket booklet that would nudge an unbeliever toward God without beating them over the head was a cool challenge. I had a manuscript from 21 years ago that was still sitting in “inventory” so I got it out and reworked it for this booklet. My friend Chris Bounds was not real happy with it (it was too Quaker-ish for him) but no matter, I was happy with it, the publisher was happy, and the churches who are buying them in quantity seem happy so here it is—“what is written is written.”
3. Listening to God through Romans
This was a typical “writing assignment” someone gets who is faithful to do what the Publisher asks, does it fairly well, and delivers the manuscript on time. The project is part of a new series of Bible studies designed along the lectio divina format and I enjoyed writing it. Romans came out last summer and missed my last year’s inventory list. Of course, I’m not a Bible expert, let alone a Romans expert. What I did was go to lunch with Ken Schenck (who is both a Bible expert and a Romans expert) for several weeks and pulled his trigger and let him talk for an hour while I scribbled furiously. Then I went and wrote that week’s assignment and scheduled another lunch before writing the next one. So blame Schenck for anything you don’t like in there and thank me for whatever you agree with ;-) Lectio Divina is a sort of fad in Bible study recently so if you are into Bible studies you might like this. It came out this year.
4. D-Series: Baptism and Communion
This was a fun write… part of a new discipleship series coming out by my publisher. About 7500 words… four “lessons.” I like curriculum writing. They tell you exactly what to write (e.g. “a 5-7 word title followed by 125-150 word introduction” or “50-175 word “to think about” paragraph” etc.) This sort of writing is “writing on demand.” You sit down and follow the directions… your “creativity” comes is in the way you write things, not in the design or format—that’s already done and you are expected to rigidly follow the format. This will be published in this coming year.
5. Light From the Word
Another write-on-demand assignment—a week’s worth of devotionals, all very short. The hard part of this kind of writing is writing so few words (only about 200-250 a day) and packing in something to “haunt” the reader all day (who often reads this in the morning during…well, in the morning). I enjoy this sort of writing and “my week” in Light from the Word will appear this coming December 13-19. (It will also appear online here)
6. Chapter—Classic Holiness Writings
Jeremy Summers and some other emerging ministers are putting together a book like Foster’s, only of classic holiness writings. I had William Law in this book and selected a section from Law’s A serious Call to a devout and Holy Life and wrote a short introduction to it. This was an easy assignment but it will be a neat book (Wesleyan Publishing House—this coming year). I forget the name of the book, but I’ll mention it when it comes out.
7. Chapter 3: the Church Jesus Builds
Wesleyan educators (VIA Kerry Kind, head of education for Wesleyans) and the Wesleyan Publishing House do one book a year written by Wesleyan educators to help and support pastors. Joe Coleson edits them (Nazarene Theological seminary). The first book focused on preaching. This second one was on ecclesiology and it came out this year. I did chapter 3 in this book—The Church is Holy. This is a neat book…and after the disastrous tragedy of Barna’s Revolution, a good ecclesiology cannot come too soon. It is now available, though I wrote my chapter last summer.
8. Chapter: new Holiness book
Part of the same series as above—this one comes out June ’08 in time for General Conference and the related colloquium on holiness at that time. Done by Wesleyan educators, I wrote the chapter this summer on Receiving holiness in this book.
9. Chapter: new Worship book.
A group of evangelical Worship educators are putting together this book that will be published by Abingdon this October under the title The Message in the Music(Amazon page). This book is edited by Robert H. Woods & Brian D. Walrath (Spring Arbor). It takes the most popular songs used in worship today (from CCLI license data) and asks what these teach. I wrote chapter 3 in this book— I’m Desperate for You: Male Perception of Romantic Lyrics in Contemporary Worship Music. With a qualitative study of young adult males, I studied how contemporary “love songs to Jesus” come across to young adult males. My chapter follows a wonderful chapter (I wish I had written it!) by Jenell Williams Paris on how worship songs tend to follow the model of God as the “leading man” and humans as the “leading lady,” all consummated by God scooping up the worshipper and “riding off together into the sunset.” When I read Janell’s chapter I gave up and tried to get out of this assignment…she said everything I wanted to say. However, Robert Woods suggested I test the effect on young adult males so I did the qualitative study. This book will rock the worship world when it arrives.
10. New book: Common Ground—where all Christians agree
My major writing this year has focused on this new book. I spent most every week writing on this new book (about 12 hours per week) and turned in draft 16 in August. It focuses on the unified doctrines that all Christians at all times and in places agree on—the Apostle’s Creed. Last year I read and researched all year and I did the writing this year. While it won’t come out for another year the writing is done. Now the editor does his work and the publisher decides what to call it and designs the cover etc. I’ll have to go over the edits and galleys through this coming year but the hardest work is done on this one now. It should be out by next summer. I’m really happy with it. It may be the most important book I’ve written (which doesn’t automatically transfer to making it the best selling, of course). I’ll keep you posted on its progress.
Well, I think that wraps up another year of writing. Of course it is not may “day job.” I do writing on the side… mostly from time I save from not watching TV, raising children or having any hobbies and free time through the school year. That is why I don’t write the Tuesday Column in the summers. I need summers to waste going backpacking, watching movies and fiddling around in my garage and garden. Summer is about to close and playtime is over… thus this inventory of the last years writing and publishing… now its time to get back to work.