‘Publish and be damned.’ I suppose many of us have heard of this quotation, famously attributed to the Duke of Wellington, when threatened by blackmail. For the sake of this blog, I am changing it to ‘Publish and be blessed.’
‘I hadn’t thought of being published,’ a friend told me, when sharing some nuggets of truth he had recorded on his smart phone.
Well, neither had I. A friend had her title ready for the day when she might write her memoirs, but I had never thought of going into print. (Not quite true. I had written some short stories, and been encouraged to get them published, but that was long forgotten.) Writing a diary to send to the folk back home was all I had time for while working abroad.
But now, my missionary adventures behind me and settled into the sometimes routine of a pastor’s wife, I knew God was calling me to write. Three times I had heard his voice through the words, ‘What is that in your hand?’ My only answer had to be, ‘A pen.’ (Yes, I had certainly never thought God would expect me to use a computer. There are always surprises in store once we take the God road.)
After other God-incidences confirming my call, an advert for a writing course had plopped onto our door mat. It’s title - Writing for Profit. Not many months later I received a cheque for £20 from the Christian Herald, in acknowledgement of the short story I had submitted. I was on cloud nine. Somehow I had never expected to be a published author, but here I was, on the road.
Many more successes followed, though many rejections too; and rejections are always painful. But now, many books, articles, yes and blogs too later, I know my calling to write includes a call to encourage others not only to write, but to have courage to go on to be published. For in publishing we are putting our heads above the parapet and likely to be attacked. Hence this blog.
You may be more familiar with the words that ring out in Handel’s triumphant chorus –‘Great was the company of the preachers.’
‘Great was the company of those who published it,’ is an alternative translation, much loved by Bible translators. After all, what good would those long years of labour be, when a language would first of all be reduced to writing, the complexity of grammar, often tone too, understood, and now at long last the Bible, or parts of it, ready to be printed. Even now it is worthless unless there is developed in the people an appetite to read and to hear the voice of God through these pages. Only then lives are changed. No wonder there is need of prayer for every stage of this great task. ‘Great was the company of those who publish it.’
Joel and I became the means of establishing the South Wales Ready Writers. We meet together once a year and have been inspired and encouraged by various speakers. Our local monthly Ready Writers has dwindled in numbers over the years, but continues to encourage and inspire, helping us to develop the discipline of writing regularly.
We are not all going to be published by recognised publishers. Unless you are already well known, your autobiography is unlikely to be accepted. However, with computer skills ever increasing, self-publishing has become a viable option. A friend had self- published before being taken on by main line publishers. It was he who published my ‘Wings of the Morning.’
I have a poem published each month in our local Seaside News. The editor may not be selective, but never the less there are many readers who say my monthly poem is the first thing they look for in this excellent magazine.
So, if you feel a call to write, or even if you are not sure about it being a call, but just love to write, just think about the possibility that God might want it published. When Jesus warned his disciples that they would face persecution, he told them that ‘it would be turned to a testimony.’ We all undergo trials and difficulties, so let’s be ready to share the precious lessons we learn through them. We may not be likely to preach to thousands, but let’s be among the great company of those who publish od’s message.
I thank God for that first writer’s course that plopped onto our mat, and for a wise husband who encouraged me to enrol. It was my tutor who taught me how to approach an editor, how to set out my manuscript, and then, the invaluable skill of turning a novel into a page turner. Some of us may have had a good education in literature and grammar while at school, but now, with writing inspired by the Holy Spirit, we need to learn how to hone our skills and craft our words so that they will pierce the defences that men have formed around their hearts so that they will pierce through that hard top-soil and reach down into their hearts.