By Kathy Parish
Come with me into a very small Sunday School room in a small country church. There are no catchy posters decorating the walls. There are no reference books and no dry erase board as a teaching aid. For we have traveled back in time to 1961. There are one or two fifth graders in the class, taught by an older woman, not very stylish in appearance, but well versed in the Bible. Her name was Mrs. Gertrude, and she was a fine teacher. Many memory verses were committed to my memory during that season of growing up, all from the King James Version. Newer translations were yet to be accepted in that small Baptist church. These verses frequently come fresh into my memory as I teach a similar Sunday School class now. I tell the girls that they need to remember these verses, that they will be important when they are older.
Recently I was blessed to read Susan May Warren’s The Story Equation. What a message God had for me in the reading! Because it brought to mind one of those old memory verses which suddenly seemed so applicable to my struggles as a writer.
Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. II Timothy 2:15 (KJV)
Character development and storytelling has been heretofore very “seat-of-the-pants” and rather organic in the two independently published inspirational novels bearing my name. Although readers seem to enjoy them, they are definitely not masterpieces! But the most recent work-in-progress has been more of a struggle. The story is clear in my mind, but my ability to work it out has been halting and inept.
The problem, you see, is not the story. The problem is the writer. I fear that I have invested too much in the dream and not enough in the craft. I have been blessed to meet many inspirational people through ACFW, and the annual conference has provided not only a wealth of instruction but spiritual comfort and inspiration. It has been a source of encouragement and friendships. It has provided what I know of the craft.
Through Ms. Warren’s book, God opened my mind and heart to the truth that, just as I should study God’s word in order to serve him better and teach in a doctrinally sound manner, I need to study the craft of writing, in order to best reach hearts with the truth of God’s love through my stories.
Paul spoke this truth to the church at Colosse when he wrote,
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men. Colossians 3:23 (NIV)
I did finally graduate to newer translations! He wants me to write, investing every bit of my mind and heart and ever-increasing skill as if He is my critique partner, editor, publisher, reader. Because I am His “agent” in sharing His truth.
Instead of depending just on talent, a love of words, a good vocabulary, and opportunity, I should, and will be, focusing on investing in, and using, instruction in the craft. That’s how I can “writely divide” God’s message for my readers.
Looking forward to learning with you at this year’s ACFW conference!How can we “writely” divide God’s message for our readers? @parish_kathy #ACFWblogs #amwriting #2Timothy2:15 @SusanMayWarren #TheStoryEquation Click To Tweet
Kathy Parish lives with her beloved husband, daughter, grandson, and miniature Schnauzers, Piper and Princess, in central Arkansas. She is joyfully anticipating the arrival of great-grandchildren, numbers 2 and 3. Faith in Christ is the foundation of her life. An actively practicing cardiology nurse practitioner, she has indie published two inspirational romances, Freely Given and Colorado’s Choice.
Amen! Learning the craft of writing is so important. Good words of wisdom.
This was a really good post, thank you!
Based on this blog, I think I should order a copy of Susan May Warren’s The Story Equation. I have written a children’s book that many associates have praised but I am having difficulty attracting an agent.
Thanks for the tip.