“To write is to talk to strangers.”
Tracy Kidder and Richard Todd practice what they preach by starting their book Good Prose quietly, with a sentence at once disarming and muscular. Indeed, the whole book is about this one, deceptively simple, nearly passive, seven-word sentence. Its rhythm is as beguiling as its substance is vital.
Continue reading “Good Prose 1: Talking to Strangers”
A friend asked, “How do I know if I’m called to write?” He’d just read my summary of what J. I. Packer had to say to writers. He was responding to Packer’s last point: “Don’t attempt to be a writer unless you have got things to say which must be put on paper and are being called by God to do it. Being a writer is as vocational as being a preacher.”
Continue reading “A Call”
J. I. Packer, best known as author of Knowing God, has some sage counsel for writers. In the following video, we get a bit of classic Packer as he offers some clear, straightforward counsel.
Continue reading “Advice for Writers from Packer”
Calvin Miller, best known as author of The Singer from IVP, died August 19. He was a prolific writer, having authored dozens of books, for many of which I worked with him as editor. IVP was proud to have put Calvin on the map of the publishing world with his surprisingly successful “mythic retelling” of the gospel story, a book that went on to sell hundreds of thousands of copies.
Continue reading “Remembering Calvin Miller”
The grinding dogma of fifth-grade English teachers everywhere has done incalculable damage to the sensitive psyches of countless school children. One of the most onerous dicta of Miss Vera Strict was this: “Never use I when you write.” The calcified trauma of this lives on in otherwise normal adults.
Continue reading “Write About Yourself”
The other day one of our editors, Dave Zimmerman, came to me with a proposal from a prospective author for a book. It was on prayer, mission, evangelism, the history of global Christianity, the future of Christianity, the Holy Spirit, the Kingdom of God and justice.
I looked at Dave and said, “First-Book Syndrome.” He grimly nodded in agreement.
What is First-Book Syndrome?
Continue reading “First-Book Syndrome”
Postmodernism tells us there is no purely objective observer. We all have a bias when we come to a subject, no matter how well trained we might be in science or law or history. This would seem to be a rather difficult problem to overcome. How do we say something is true when it will inevitably be colored by our own perspectives?
Continue reading “Not a Straight Story Line”
I call them preacher stories–those tales that pass from church to church, book to book, blog to blog. Sometimes corny, sometimes profound, they can inspire, accuse, challenge, amuse, surprise or inform.
I recently came across the same story three times, and it made me wonder.
Continue reading “Pastor Beware (and Writer Too)”
Do I, as the editorial director for a traditional print publisher, encourage and support self-publishing–even self-ebook publishing? Yes. I do. Here’s why.
Continue reading “Self Publish? You Bet.”
As fellow editor Gary Deddo likes to tell the story, his ninth-grade English teacher was the perfect stereotype. Glasses, tight face, hair in a bun, outdated dress that came up in a tight collar around her neck, leaning over her desk and in a crackly voice exhorting her students, “There’s no such thing as good writing. [Dramatic pause.] There’s only good rewriting.”
Continue reading “There’s No Such Thing As Good Writing”