Does a Writer a Reader Make?

January 2, 2009 at 10:21 am 7 comments

Happy New Year! I am emerging from the chaos of the holidays with kids at home and a myriad of family activities to distract me from my writing. One of those activities that can keep me from writing is reading. I do love to read. But am I cut out to be a writer? Will I learn to be a better writer through reading?

In 2008 I ventured into the realm of book publishing, creating and submitting my very first book proposal. It has yet to be accepted. The economic downturn and my relative obscurity haven’t helped. So, as the new year begins I am contemplating writing and wondering if I should set aside book idea 1 (a book about missional evangelism) and work on some other book ideas that I have swimming around in the primordial pool in my head.

Here are some of my ideas:

  • God if You’re Real… – telling my life story through the lens of discovering God
  • The Man Delusion: Women’s Rights and Responsibilities – a discussion on the delusion of male authoritarianism in the church, why this delusion has continued for so long and how women have rights and responsibilities in the church and world that differ from what the church and world are trying to sell us.
  • Bubble, Sphere, Orb, Globe – a science fiction series geared toward young adults exploring the possibility of life in other realms.

As I consider venturing into the realm of fiction writing, I have wondered whether I can even write fiction well. How does one know? Can I learn to write great fiction by reading great fiction? If I read the popular young adult books that my teenagers love, will that help me to better write to that audience? I have already ventured into the realm of reading young adult fiction – some at my girls request, others out of personal interest.

Lately, my Katie (age 14) has been pressuring me to read the Twilight series. I stood in line for the midnight opening with my Katie, her friend Sophia, and Sophia’s mom. I was pleasantly surprised by the movie and thus more interested in reading the books. But I have so many other books I want to read first. Do I allow Twilight to cut in line before I finish His Dark Materials trilogy? I just started book three – The Amber Spyglass. Or displace reading Brisingr from the Inheritance series? And who has time to read all these great novels when I am in seminary and required to read books like, The Gospel in a Pluralist Society and write essays and papers all the time?

Perhaps in these few brief days before school starts again I will finish The Amber Spyglass and have time to begin Twilight. I’ll keep you posted.

As many begin the new year glancing back upon the past year, I am looking back on my favorite books of 2008. Here’s my list:

Favorite non-fiction book recommended by a friend:

A Perfect Mess: The Hidden Benefits of Disorder–How Crammed Closets, Cluttered Offices, and On-the-Fly Planning Make the World a Better Place by Eric Abrahamson and David H. Freedman

Favorite non-fiction book written by a friend:

They Like Jesus but Not the Church: Insights from Emerging Generations by Dan Kimball

Favorite non-fiction book required for a seminary class:

Favorite fiction book recommended by one of my daughters:

Eldest (Inheritance) by Christopher Paolini

Favorite fiction I bought for my daughters but fell in love with myself:

The Singing: The Fourth Book of Pellinor by Alison Croggon

I just finished reading The Singing on New Year’s Eve and while I am glad to have read the series, I am sad to leave the world so beautifully crafted by Alison Croggon. While I may be interested in writing fiction, I fear I am not gifted for the task. I also wonder whether as an extrovert I can seclude myself from the world around me long enough to create other worlds. I took a poetry class in college and while I performed well in all my other English classes, I did poorly in poetry. Yet there is a longing within me to write with beauty and grace, to inspire through words, to create something of value for future generations.

God help me in this new year to choose well my path for writing, to not be afraid to live my dreams, to allow your spirit to guide me and to never forget to take time to listen to your voice calling me.

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Entry filed under: art, blogging, Book Reviews, imagination, writing.

Half-baked Blog Topics Reimagining Church and Life

7 Comments Add your own

  • 1. ceylanthewriter  |  January 2, 2009 at 1:40 pm

    I think that you should choose to finish one of the books that you are in the middle of reading before beginning another project. Otherwise you will have too many projects on your mind and it will begin to wear you down psychologically. Finish what you have started. Keep positive!

    Ceylan

    Reply
  • 2. Dan  |  January 2, 2009 at 3:45 pm

    I think book’s should flow from your gut and passion.

    What I hear you talk about a lot is the issue of being theologically evangelical – BUT breaking free from the trappings of conservatism – but still maintaining evangelical theology. What it was that drew you out more to explore, you learned and were challenged, but didn’t go into classical deonstructive liberalism in terms of Scripture and practice.

    How you also know the good and bad of larger churches – but also know the reality of evangelism and mission and desire to see people come to faith in jesus whether a large church or small. I haven’t sensed you have plunged into missional world and then rejected the good of structure, program etc. These things you talk about a lot I think. You have balance.

    The other thing, is what you talk about with the woman’s role, raising children etc. in coming from more of a conservative background but then seeing the joy of being a mom and female who takes Scripture seriously and still evangelical (i keep using that word, not sure what else to use) but moving beyond what some of the former values you had, which were not necessaruly Scriptural as much as church cultural and now are in balance. there are probably a lot of females who could relate to this.

    those are some quick thoughts as I sit in a very cold coffeehouse.

    Reply
  • 3. Elizabeth Chapin  |  January 2, 2009 at 7:21 pm

    Ceylan, great advice. I definitely hope to finish reading The Amber Spyglass before I start the Twilight series, but I have also learned to juggle reading more than one book at a time since I often have to read a different book for each class in school.

    Dan, thanks for the encouragement. I just wonder if I have some fiction in my gut that will flow from my passion 😉 We’ll see. Maybe 2009 will be a good year for writing. I hope your dissertation is coming along in spite of cold coffehouses!

    Reply
  • 4. Mark R  |  January 6, 2009 at 4:51 am

    It’s great to see you back – HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

    No more books – I have way more than enough and I’ve just ordered two more today –

    I like the sound of – The Man Delusion: Women’s Rights and Responsibilities, – in the Emergent/Missional movement women are taking a wonderful teaching and leadership role in a lot of ways they are directing the dialogue. But it’s the men that are writing all the books and giving all the quotes.

    Darn it!!! I am going to order Evangelism After Christendom!!!

    Look forward to reading you in 2009 – Shalom.

    Reply
  • 5. foggyblogger  |  January 8, 2009 at 12:45 am

    Hmmm well topic number two is a loaded gun! However i recommend reading David Scholer’s work. Unfortunately he just recently passed away. ( i got to take his class on women and the church, it was brilliant!)

    In terms of writing, i tend to think of it as a sport. Someone may have a natural gift, but if they dont practice, its for naught. But someone with practice can become a great player! So try all three and see what happens! ( i also find writing in coffee shops to be helpful, since i too am an extrovert and you meet interesting people in coffee shops, esp those in college towns that are not starbucks, or peets!)

    Many blessings for the coming year!

    Reply
  • 6. Graham  |  January 11, 2009 at 6:32 pm

    I stumbled on your blog through a twitter post on parenting, and was fascinated that you might chuck the missional evangelism idea. Why?

    I noticed your reference to ‘Gospel in a Pluralist Society.’ It is sitting on my table right now. In fact, I can’t think of anyone who would be a better guide than Newbigin to writing a book on missional evanglism. Have you read ‘Foolishness to the Greeks’?

    Cheers,

    Graham

    Reply
  • 7. Elizabeth Chapin  |  January 11, 2009 at 7:23 pm

    I am so encouraged by the responses here! You all have energized me to get back at the task at hand.

    Mark, I hope you enjoy Evangelism After Christendom as much as I did. I have some audio of Brian Stone from a conference as well – it’s not the best quality, but the content is worthy and I like hearing people I enjoy reading. It helps me read them better. Here’s the link to some Bryan Stone lectures online. http://www.nicholshillsumc.org/mp3/popelecture/08/index.html

    Foggyblogger, thanks for the advice on writing – I do need to “practice” writing more, even though I do a lot of writing for school, writing for a book is a bit different.

    Graham, I am still working on getting the Missional Evangelism book idea accepted by a publisher – this is not an easy task. I may look to hiring an agent, but haven’t decided on that yet. My thinking on chucking the missional evangelism idea is that if I don’t find a publisher to buy into it, I don’t think I want to self-publish and before long the idea will be passe or others will have written enough. I haven’t given up yet. I just finished another chapter – much of the material you can read on my missional blog posts since September. Thanks for the encouragement to review Newbigin – his writings have not only influenced me directly but have obviously influenced many others I have been reading lately.

    Reply

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