On Writing a New Book
Lucinda Secrest McDowell
Today I began writing a new book. I gasp as I realize this is number thirteen to be published under my name ( I’m not superstitious).
Did you think I would be calm with this process by now? The truth – I am in awe. That a fine publisher has offered me a contract. That amazing people actually buy the books I write. But mostly, friend, I am in awe that the God of the universe would deign to offer me a part in helping to further His kingdom here on earth.
And so I humbly turn to Jesus – the “Word made flesh” who joined us here on earth so that we would always know that He knows – and I pray “Thank You.”
For this privilege. But also for this hard work that is ahead. Because writing is work. It is digging deep for the pearls, sharing vulnerably, sometimes saying hard things, throwing away countless crumpled pages, finding courage to start over, allowing others to critique and cut your story, second-guessing your abilities, and praying over every single word and phrase.
After the initial euphoria of signing the contract (“You like me, you really like me!”), inevitably the panic sets in. “Who am I to write this book?” I love the way my friend Robert Benson captures it: “At the beginning of a new book I find it easier to write if I do not think about the fact that I am attempting to write a book. Who in the world needs another book anyway? …Last week while reading Buechner, I realized that if I wanted to make a contribution to the literary world, I should do his laundry and mow his grass so he would have more time to write.” (from “Dancing on the Head of a Pen”)
I am convinced God calls each of us to share our unique story in just the manner He equipped us to do it. For me that is in writing and speaking and teaching. I say this with humility, but I also say it with conviction. Because honey, you need to know who you are and who you aren’t in order to fulfill God’s purposes for your life!
My book will not look like the current bestselling book that you just loved and ordered copies for all your friends. Because I’m not her. I don’t write what she writes or in the same way she writes it. Nor should I. The world already has her. As I begin this journey, I pray fervently that God will give me insight and my own unique voice to speak into the darkness.
I gather my materials – my Bible, journals, research, outlines – and as I look at the pile, I am truly overwhelmed. Yet I am a participant — a partner – with God on this project. And since nothing really happens until I begin writing…. I start with word one.
For writers, writing is an act of obedience to God’s call.
In “The Soul Tells a Story” we are reminded: “You are called to a work, and you respond with your particular gifts, vision and energy. You’re rarely sure of what it is you’re about to do, but you have an idea, along with the desire to carry it out. You say yes and then hope that you still will live up to the yes. You feel honored but maybe a bit scared too.” (Vinita Hampton Wright)
Today I begin with great faith and great gratitude. With hope and yes, some humble hesitancy. I begin the work because I want to offer my best back to my Creator.
What are you beginning today? What are you not beginning because you feel afraid or unworthy?
I don’t know what God’s call on your life looks like. I don’t know where the path is taking you. But I’m convinced He is beside both of us each step of the way.
And so I step forward…. and begin.
“May our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, who has loved us and given us eternal encouragement and good hope by grace, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good Work and Word.” (2 Thessalonians 2.16-17)
under the mercy, Cindy
©2016 Lucinda Secrest McDowell
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