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Inclined to Write?

Back before I’d ever published anything, I used to look at all the books on the market and think, “Do we really need another book on prayer?” or “Why a new book on marriage?” or “Why would someone want to publish another Bible study on Sermon on the Mount?”   What I didn’t realize back then but came

Back before I’d ever published anything, I used to look at all the books on the market and think, “Do we really need another book on prayer?” or “Why a new book on marriage?” or “Why would someone want to publish another Bible study on Sermon on the Mount?”   What I didn’t realize back then but came to know years later was that each author’s unique sphere of influence provides a platform through which some readers are more apt to hear from that author than from others—even if the others are more eloquent. Thus, there will always be a need for more books, new books, even on “old” topics.

For example Richard Baxter wrote wonderful stuff for Puritan audiences, and it stirs me when I read it today. Yet I still love reading about the same topics covered by Eugene Peterson and Calvin Miller. Not only do these men live in my own time, but I have also had the honor of interviewing both. Now that I have interacted with them personally, I want to read everything they’ve written.

My former pastor, Dr. Gary Inrig, in Redlands, California, is someone whose name I might never have heard had he not served our church in Dallas, Texas. Yet having sat under his teaching and seen the way he and his wife, Elizabeth, live out their faith (and personally cared for my family through some difficult days), I approach his written works with a particular openness to learn. Because of his credibility with me, I read with a desire to be taught that I would not otherwise have when reading about the judges or the parables. Other people have written about the Book of Judges and on Jesus’ parables. Yet Dr. Inrig’s works on these topics are my favorites.

So as I said, each author’s unique sphere of influence provides a platform through which some readers are more apt to hear from that author than from any other. Because of this, every year I exhort my grad-level journalism students to go ahead and write on topics that interest them, even if the topics have already “been covered.” Several years ago after hearing this little lecture, one of my students showed up the next week with a quote for me that I have since cherished. It’s from St. Augustine’s De Trinitate (On the Trinity), translated by Edmund Hill:

Not everything … that is written by anybody comes into the hands of everybody, and it is possible that some who are in fact capable of understanding even what I write may not come across those more intelligible writings, while they do at least happen upon these of mine. That is why it is useful to have several books by several authors, even on the same subjects, differing in style though not in faith, so that the matter itself may reach as many as possible, some in this way others in that.

If you are at all inclined to write, do it! Ninety percent of writing is having something worth saying, and if you’re a Christ-follower, you have a message the world needs to hear. Don’t let that voice telling you someone else has already “done it better” stop you from writing anyway. Perhaps that better-written book will never make it into one of your readers’ hands and you will get to be the fortunate soul through whom someone’s life is forever changed.

Sandra Glahn

Sandra Glahn, who holds a Master of Theology degree from Dallas Theological Seminary (DTS) and a PhD in The Humanities—Aesthetic Studies from the University of Texas/Dallas, is a professor at DTS. This creator of the Coffee Cup Bible Series (AMG) based on the NET Bible is the author or coauthor of more than twenty books. She's the wife of one husband, mother of one daughter, and owner of two cats. Chocolate and travel make her smile. You can follow her on Twitter @sandraglahn ; on FB /Aspire2 ; and find her at her web site: aspire2.com.

8 Comments

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    Sharifa Stevens

    So Encouraging!

    Thank you for the virtual encouragement, Sandi. I know that your Journalism class was incredibly practical, informative, and compassionate (everybody’s journalism class doesn’t have that powerful combination!). I even feel guilty for using a "to be" verb in describing it…the class impacted me so much. Wink

    Here’s to "more intelligible writings,"many voices, and One Faith.

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    Sue Bohlin

    Maybe that’s why. . .

    I know the author of the Bible personally–He’s a friend of mine–so maybe that’s why I love His work so much!? Reading the Bible before becoming a Christ-follower sure was different from after.

    And I know FOR SURE that that’s why I enjoy reading your books. I can hear your voice and see your smile in my head as I read!

    Great perspective, Sandi. Bless you!

     

     

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    Gail Seidel

    Great perspective

    My heart is so encouraged by your balanced perspective and invitation to be available to whomever and however God would choose to use me/us writing for and in the body of Christ…..YES! A Christ follower DOES have something to say…each of us IS the visible presence of Christ wherever and to whomever we speak.Thank you, Sandi.

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    Jennifer

    Inclined to Write?
    Thank you so much for your encouraging words. I have a blog and I enjoy writing about things that stir me. But, like you mentioned, I’ve often wondered what I could say that hasn’t already been said. Well, you definitely answered that one.

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    Cynthia Thompson

    Thank you!
    Dear Sandra, first let me say that I love your Coffee Cup Bible study series. I hope you will produce more of those. I have had the same internal conversation……”why should another book on marriage be published?” etc. I have often said that I will write a book when God gives me a topic that is not already overdone! You blog post on this subject is enlightening. Though I think Christian publishing is a bit over commercialized, I appreciate your perspective and the credible reasons for more books on common subjects. You are the first that has addressed a question I have pondered for years. But apparently St. Augustine left us an answer long ago. Thank you for the great quote and post!

  • Laura (Jones) Singleton

    Laura (Jones) Singleton

    Amen, sister!
    Oh Sandi,
    As usual, you make doing what you do accessible, so the rest of us can follow. You’re a major reason that I’m writing full time now (and just finished a Bible study for a certain ministry we’re all fond of). Thanks for the encouragement, thanks for making the leap less scary, and thanks most of all for helping us understand that it’s not just about our dreams, but the Father’s dreams for us.

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      Sandra Glahn

      Gulp

      Wow. How very kind. Speechless.

      Thanks, Laura! So glad you’re still writing! (A writer doesn’t stay speechless for long, does she?)

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