Writing a Book

“A poem is never finished, only abandoned.” – Paul Valery

I am writing a book. I stopped all outside reading (except for sermon preparation) and I am not going to do much blogging until the book is done. I signed a publishing contract with Word and Spirit Press, to self-publish the book. I am also shopping around a book proposal to various publishers to see if I can get picked up by a standard publisher.

The book is a popular version of my Trinitarian vision of spiritual transformation, i.e. the work of the Holy Spirit to transform us into the image of Jesus for God the Holy Spirit. It includes themes I worked on in my doctor of ministry dissertation and themes I have preached on in the last few years.

I hope to have the book in print by the end of September. I am working to get the rough draft finished by next week, so it can go through the editing and refining process. Writing is hard work. And writing is almost never finished. A good poem is never finished. It is only abandoned. You can say the same thing about any kind of writing. Good writing is never finished. I could keep writing and rewriting and editing and rewriting and it would never end! So I have a due date and I am working hard to get the draft done.

A friend emailed me this, while I have been furiously writing:

“How to Write With Style”
by Kurt Vonnegut

1) Find a subject you care about
2) Do not ramble, though
3) Keep it simple
4) Have guts to cut
5) Sound like yourself
6) Say what you mean
7) Pity the readers

Good thoughts. Especially “have guts to cut.” That is not as easy as it sounds. Also “sound like yourself”…very important.

So with the writing deadline and my preaching schedule, I may not have enough time to blog. I am preaching twice this week. On Wednesday night I will be preaching on “Is Jesus the Only Way” as a part of our Wrestling with Doubt series and on Sunday, I will be preaching from Philippians chapter 3.

I really want to read The Shack and blog on it. Maybe after the book is sent off to the publisher. I will try to update the blog with updates on the writing process. Until then pray for me!

I have been listening to Dylan Blonde on Blonde looking for inspiration for a poetic title for the book. Nothing yet! But this song is sheer poetry

Visions of Johanna
Bob Dylan (1966)

Ain’t it just like the night to play tricks when you’re tryin’ to be so quiet?
We sit here stranded, though we’re all doin’ our best to deny it
And Louise holds a handful of rain, temptin’ you to defy it
Lights flicker from the opposite loft
In this room the heat pipes just cough
The country music station plays soft
But there’s nothing, really nothing to turn off
Just Louise and her lover so entwined
And these visions of Johanna that conquer my mind

In the empty lot where the ladies play blindman’s bluff with the key chain
And the all-night girls they whisper of escapades out on the “D” train
We can hear the night watchman click his flashlight
Ask himself if it’s him or them that’s really insane
Louise, she’s all right, she’s just near
She’s delicate and seems like the mirror
But she just makes it all too concise and too clear
That Johanna’s not here
The ghost of ‘lectricity howls in the bones of her face
Where these visions of Johanna have now taken my place

Now, little boy lost, he takes himself so seriously
He brags of his misery, he likes to live dangerously
And when bringing her name up
He speaks of a farewell kiss to me
He’s sure got a lotta gall to be so useless and all
Muttering small talk at the wall while I’m in the hall
How can I explain?
Oh, it’s so hard to get on
And these visions of Johanna, they kept me up past the dawn

Inside the museums, Infinity goes up on trial
Voices echo this is what salvation must be like after a while
But Mona Lisa musta had the highway blues
You can tell by the way she smiles
See the primitive wallflower freeze
When the jelly-faced women all sneeze
Hear the one with the mustache say, “Jeeze
I can’t find my knees”
Oh, jewels and binoculars hang from the head of the mule
But these visions of Johanna, they make it all seem so cruel

The peddler now speaks to the countess who’s pretending to care for him
Sayin’, “Name me someone that’s not a parasite and I’ll go out and say a prayer for him”
But like Louise always says
“Ya can’t look at much, can ya man?”
As she, herself, prepares for him
And Madonna, she still has not showed
We see this empty cage now corrode
Where her cape of the stage once had flowed
The fiddler, he now steps to the road
He writes ev’rything’s been returned which was owed
On the back of the fish truck that loads
While my conscience explodes
The harmonicas play the skeleton keys and the rain
And these visions of Johanna are now all that remain