I’ve started writing a book.
I’ve been pondering / meaning to / thinking about compiling much of what is on this blog into a book of some shape or form for ages, but for various reasons it hasn’t happened.
Some of the struggle has just been plain laziness – writing takes effort – watching Netflix doesn’t. Some of it has been a health issue which has meant sitting still has been hard, but some of it has also been that each time I have sat down to try and do it I have felt blocked – stuck – and unable to ‘find my voice’ so to speak. I have literally slammed the lid of the laptop shut in frustration because I have been unable to get going.
Last week I had a brief text conversation with my mate Phil who produced the Dad Book and he suggested organising into sections of work. That helped. I started to frame my various posts in different categories and the wheels started to turn. Those sections have already morphed several times, but that was a catalyst to get me moving.
However the ‘aha’ moment came when I was able to describe the precise type of book I want to write and who I want to write for. The book is intended to be a collation of my existing blog thoughts (15 years worth…) and more recently talks from 98.5FM and big brekkie episodes. There will also be some new stuff that has been sparking as I’ve been writing. So it will be short reflective stories of 2-3 pages in length that can be read in 5 minutes over breakfast, on the train or in the toilet (if that’s your thing…)
When I started to mentally picture who I wanted to write for, the faces I saw weren’t the faces of people in my church community – or in any church community for that matter. I think those people may find the stuff useful, but I started to see faces of my friends who don’t have church connections, but with whom I have conversations about life and faith and spirituality. These are people who want to live life well, and who are open to considering the Christian story – if it is framed in a way that makes sense.
There are plenty of ‘apologetics’ books – the ones that provide evidence and reasons for faith, so that base is well and truly covered by people smarter than me. But what I’d like to do is tell stories like this one and this one and this one – that have their focus as the kingdom of God and what that looks like and give people a vision of what life looks like when lived Jesus’ way. I’d also include a few like this one that is more pointed, deliberate and maybe even confronting.
When Jesus wanted to communicate with people and either develop understanding or provoke curiosity he told stories. I guess he did this because stories draw people in and stories are somewhat ambiguous at times (“The kingdom of God is like a mustard seed”… “A man had two sons”…) Stories are less directive and didactic but stories have power because they often appeal to the heart. So my hope is to write a collection of stories – some mine and some I have picked up over the years that all point towards the nature of the kingdom of God, but in a gentle and maybe even subversive way.
I have often thought that I’d like a book to give to friends who are open to faith, but who wouldn’t gel with the whole ‘evidence based’ approach, but they are hard to come by. When Sheridan Voysey produced Unseen Footprints I finally felt I had a more narrative shaped book that I could hand to people who were asking faith questions, but I don’t know of many others. So I am hoping to add one more to (very small) collection
In ‘Christian world’ we have what we know of as ‘devotional books’, those books that we can use to help us connect with God thru a brief piece of writing and a reference to a section of the Bible.
I guess this is a ‘devotion book’ for people who don’t share our faith, a collection of short reflections, unashamedly written from a Christian worldview, that could be read each day and that would give food for thought as well as light for the road ahead. I’d like to finish each chapter with 2 or 3 helpful reflection questions as well as providing some relevant part of the Bible for people to explore if they wish.
My hope is that it could be something people could give to a friend or a neighbour confidently and without cringing, knowing that the content would be engaging and provocative as well as solid – that it would fuel further conversations and if people didn’t buy into the whole faith thing then they would at least have some common sense input for living life well.
One of the things Phil said to me was that part of actually getting his book completed was ‘putting it out there’ and making it public that it was happening. From that comes the drive to follow through and not look like a guy who can’t finish what he starts. So this is me doing the same… saying I have started and I intend to finish. If all goes to plan I hope to be finished by the end of winter – 3 months. I dunno if that is overly ambitious but as a retic and turf bloke who worked a whole 2 hours last week I reckon I have the time on hand if I can use it wisely.