Thursday, November 16, 2006

Writing At Your Own Pace

For all those who've sent their prayers and best wishes during these past two weeks, a heartfelt "thank you." Things are much better now. Allen is recovering at home, with only a residual headache that's clearing slowly. Ann and Benny are on their honeymoon. And my conscience is bothering me something fierce because I haven't done any work on my novels in over a fortnight (hey, I'm a wordsmith--I use big words).

Like most of us who seek to write with a Christian worldview, I've studied (and still study) books by respected Christian writers. I depend on Jim Bell's Plot and Structure, Brandilyn Collins' Getting Into Character, and Terry Whalin's Book Proposals That Sell. I've read Mastering Point of View and Techniques of the Selling Writer. They're all great, and I've learned a lot from them. But there's one commonality there: these are full-time, professional writers. They're extremely qualified and their advice is excellent. But every time I read one of those books, I get depressed because I can't sit down every day and turn out two thousand words. After all, this is my calling. So I must be short-changing God by my sloth.

That's when I remember something from Lawrence Block's neat little book, Telling Lies for Fun and Profit. Block is a secular writer, but his advice is just as applicable for the writer of Christian fiction. In one section of the book, he uses the term, "Sunday writer." This is the person who has a full-time position (and ladies, I certainly include housewife/mother in this category), but writes when he/she has the time. When I think about it, this sort of describes me. I'm retired, but I seem to be busier than I ever was, doing all the "honey-do" stuff that's required, staying active in church, taking the time to do things with my wife. I try to put in a couple of hours every day writing, but (as was the case recently) that doesn't always happen. Does that make me a bad person? No, just a "Sunday writer."

Block ends his book with a "Writer's Prayer." It covers four pages, and contains some thought-provoking sentiments. In it, he says, "Lord, let me remember that I'm not in competition with other writers....They have their way of writing, and I have mine....The more I more I focus on comparing myself with them, the less energy I am able to concentrate on making the best of myself and my own work." Great advice! So learn from other writers--take the tips that work for you, discard the ones that don't, and always lean on the One who has called you to this work. He'll direct your paths. May God bless your efforts and mine.

7 comments:

Terry Whalin said...

Richard,

What wise advice to learn from other writers. It's been a theme that I'm constantly practicing in my life.

Thank you for the kind words about my Book Proposals That Sell.

Keep up the good work.

Terry

Book Proposals That Sell

The Writing Life

Anne Mateer said...

Thanks for the reminder, Richard!

D'Ann

Richard L. Mabry, MD said...

Thanks, Terry and D'Ann, for your visit and your comments. Terry, your book is on the bookshelf next to my desk, and no dust accumulates around it. D'Ann, the next time you have a spare moment (yeah, right), think about reading Block's book. It's entertaining and has some encouraging words--and goodness knows, we need those from time to time.
Blessings,
Richard

Rachelle said...

Richard, I've never read Block's book but I recognize his name -- didn't he write all those "deadly sins" novels? Anyway, I will have to get the book. Also, I thought he died. Is that true?

Thanks for stopping by my blog and giving me a HUGE LOL with your second comment. It is hard to admit how vain we all are, isn't it? Perhaps things like this were easier in Jesus's day. There were no movie stars parading around scantily dressed... everyone's feet were dry and dirty and probably ugly as sin... they all walked everywhere so they got plenty of exercise... and everyone was covered with baggy robes, anyway, so love handles just weren't an issue. Sounds nice, doesn't it?

Richard L. Mabry, MD said...

Rachelle (and anyone else interested in the book I recommended),
Block wrote the Matt Scudder novels about a recovering alcoholic private detective, the Bernie Rhodenbarr ("Burglar") novels about a soft-hearted second-story man, and a bunch more. Some of his writing is a bit dark, but I've always enjoyed it. He's still alive, and still writing.
I enjoyed his book, Telling Lies For Fun And Profit, partly because it wasn't written for the Christian market, and I could relax a bit and not feel so guilty about not having my fiction published (yet)
while reading it. And I found it helpful in lots of ways.

R.G. said...

Richard, I've never read Block's book but I recognize his name -- didn't he write all those "deadly sins" novels? Anyway, I will have to get the book. Also, I thought he died. Is that true?

Thanks for stopping by my blog and giving me a HUGE LOL with your second comment. It is hard to admit how vain we all are, isn't it? Perhaps things like this were easier in Jesus's day. There were no movie stars parading around scantily dressed... everyone's feet were dry and dirty and probably ugly as sin... they all walked everywhere so they got plenty of exercise... and everyone was covered with baggy robes, anyway, so love handles just weren't an issue. Sounds nice, doesn't it?

Terry Whalin said...

Richard,

What wise advice to learn from other writers. It's been a theme that I'm constantly practicing in my life.

Thank you for the kind words about my Book Proposals That Sell.

Keep up the good work.

Terry

Book Proposals That Sell

The Writing Life