If you had talked to me exactly one year ago, today, I would have expressed no desire to write a book. Jump ahead just twelve months and I have a full length Christian book, “Unlocking Creation”, that’s been on the market now for six months. I started this blog, by the same name, where I have been cranking out a weekly post for about 8 months. Plus, I have already started writing a second book, title forthcoming, and I am about seven chapters into that one. So that is roughly 100,000 words of writing in about nine months. Surprised? Me too!!
Now, I am not saying any of that in a bragging or haughty way, not at all. But I think it leads to an obvious question. What would make a man or a woman, seemingly overnight, go from having no desire to commit to this amount of literary output, to writing all the time, almost daily, on various topics and a wide array of experiences. I can only think of one reason, and we will get to that a little later.
But before I let the “cat out of bag”, I should probably rewind the tape a bit. For most of my life, over forty years worth, I have been a musician and, more specifically, a songwriter. Like so many other musicians and songwriters, I can point to The Beatles appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1964 as “the accelerant” that caused the creative fires to ignite within me. What made The Beatles so unique, other than the cereal bowl haircuts and lapelless suits, was the fact that these guys wrote their own songs, both the words and music. That was very rare in those days. You had singers, and you had songwriters. Very few did both.
I was nine years old at the time and I had already shown an interest in music. My parents talked about how I would often try to sing along with the TV or the radio. And two years before that, thanks to a door-to-door music lessons salesman (imagine that), I began taking accordion lessons, which later led to switching to the organ and piano and, later, guitar and bass. Accordion just was not cool enough, OK?
By the time I was sixteen, I was bound and determined to learn how to write songs. Like most songwriters, as with most skills really, my first fruits were a far cry from “Yesterday” or “Help”. You could say my early songs actually needed a lot of “help.” But there was one piece of advice I seemed to stumble on, over and over, as I read books and magazines on “songwriting,” and talked to others who had done it before. That advice was, “Stick with it, kid, just keep writing. The more you write, the better you’ll get at it.”
Over those forty-plus years, I have written and recorded roughly two hundred songs in a bunch of different styles and genres, Pop, Rock, Country, Contemporary Christian and even worship music. I have recorded two full albums, years ago of course, and I have had two singles released to radio. And yes, they did get some airplay (not much), but most of it was overseas in Europe, Australia and New Zealand. It’s true, I never had a lot of commercial success or got that “big break” I had hoped for. But I had a life full of exciting experiences and memories, I even met my wife through my music. So without that, the kids and grandkids I have today, they would likely not exist. I guess Rascal Flatts was right, “God Blessed The Broken Road” that lead me straight to my wife and my family. They are my “gold records” (although they refuse to let me hang them up on the wall…what’s up with that?). They are my earthly rewards, for sure. But, as life marched forward and the opportunities for my music and songwriting began to evaporate (for obvious reasons if you have seen my picture lately), those creative juices were still there and I began to look at other ways to keep writing and be creative.
A couple years ago, the Men’s Group at my church asked me to start a Facebook page for the group, which I did. Some of the guys said they wish we had a Bible study so they could get a better grasp on God’s Word. So I offered to take one chapter of the Bible each day and post a short commentary on it, which hopefully would lead to discussion. The guys seemed to enjoy it and we are now two years into it. That has been a lot of fun and a great learning experience, not just for the guys, but for myself, as well, because it forced me to dig deeper to find some gems to share with the men. It’s been great.
And I believe, more than anything else, that the Facebook page was the springboard the Lord used to propel me towards a decision to write “Unlocking Creation.” Through the Bible study, I discovered that I seemed to be able to take a variety of topics and find a few nuggets to share, hopefully, in a fun and engaging way. Are you feeling “engaged” right now? Hope so.
At the same time, I began to see God’s creation a little differently. I started wondering if, built into the designs of the things the Lord had made, like light vs. dark, hot vs. cold, even male and female….were there spiritual truths, or aspects of God’s true nature hidden right before our eyes that we could discover only if we chose to look close enough. As I found more and more of these “hidden truths”, I began to think, “You know, this might make for a really interesting book.” Not just one that believers would enjoy, but maybe someone who was curious and wanted to know more about God and the Bible would find it interesting, as well.
So, of course, I began to pray about it and I talked to a few pastors I’m friends with who had written books themselves. It would be a pretty big step for me, I thought, since I had never written anything of that size or scope before and I have never been a pastor or had formal education on this subject, or the Bible in general. Plus, I really had no “built-in audience” or followers to help me get off to a good start. I was completely unknown, as a writer, so I would be totally starting from scratch. But everywhere I looked and from everyone I talked to, it was “green lights as far as the eye could see.” Only one minor hurdle remained, I had to sit down and actually write a book worth reading. Gulp.
A few short months later, a finished and edited manuscript (thanks to some dear friends who helped with the editing) was off to the publisher and a month later, the book was released. As I look back at it now, everything happened very quickly once I decided to “go for it.” Isn’t that always the biggest hurdle, taking those first few steps?
So the answer to the question, “Why do I write?”, is probably twofold. The first is really, “Because I can.” All the things that have happened in my life have afforded me opportunities and experiences that I can draw from (I think they call it “old age”). And secondly, and most importantly, this is a place where I believe God was leading me. “How do I know that for sure?”, you ask. Well, no one can be 100% sure of this stuff, although I believe God confirmed my decision through a “multitude of counsellors,” as the Bible says. But beyond that, you have to know what you believe in your heart. Then, when a big decision needs to me made and you have “bathed it in prayer,” you step out in faith with confidence and passion and give it your best shot.
Singer and evangelist Keith Green sang a song, years ago, with these words… “You just do your best…pray that it’s blessed…and He’ll take care of the rest.” And those words have stayed with me for over thirty years, and they sort of became a motto for for me. And if Keith had not obeyed God, stepped out in faith and penned that song back in the 70s, who knows, my life might look very different today. The actions, or inactions, of one person almost always affects others, either positively or negatively.
That’s “Why I Write.” My book is not on any “best seller list” and I am pretty sure it will never be made into a movie, like “The Shack.” But that is not what it is about for me. Even if it only ends up selling twenty or thirty copies (OK…it is sold a few more than that…just sayin’), the potential is there for it to touch peoples’ lives and hopefully inspire them.
Many people have inspired me over the years, my parents, relatives, teachers, friends, pastors, authors and songwriters and musicians. I am very thankful for all of it. I am just doing the best I can to return the favor and “pay it forward.”
Doin’ my best, praying it’s blessed……and trusting Him to take care of the rest!!!