How I Write

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I wrote in my book:

    For me, a single sentence is a man-crushing python Ė a writhing anaconda to be wrestled into submission only through a virtual life-and-death struggle. It is not uncommon for me to spend an hour formulating one sentence. The reward for such care? A tangle of half-strangled sentences squirming for more attention. On rare moments my word groping lurches beyond snail-pace to a teeth-rattling tortoise-trot. Moments later I hit the dust again, compelled to retrace my route on hands and knees, scouring the text for hours like a near-sighted Mr. Magoo, convinced I must have missed something in my inordinate haste.

    Words! Thereís never one around when you need it. I try on a dozen for size, and even the best hangs off the cuff, is unfashionable and forever needs ironing. At school my English grades were so poor that I dropped the subject the first opportunity I had. There must be thousands of Christians who could have written those books with greater ease.

Someone read this account of how I write and confessed she found it unbelievable, so I thought some readers might be interested in seeing a typical example.

I woke in the middle of the night with a few words forming in my mind. I knew that if I didnít jot them down they would soon fall out of my mind, never to be found again. So I got up and grabbed a scrap of printed paper that had some white space. The top four or five handwritten lines of what appears below is my first attempt. I ended up changing it so much that I decided to start afresh by copying it underneath in an easier-to-read form so that I could make further revisions.

If you think this is messy, you have no idea how lucky you are not being able to see the jumble in my brain.

(If you would like to change the size of this page, hold down the Control (Ctrl) key on your keyboard and move the scroll wheel on your mouse.)

The ďfinal versionĒ (Iíll be amazed if it does not undergo further revisions) starts toward the left of the page. From there you need to follow lines and arrows in all directions because of various additions and changes to the sequence. It reads:

    To run from memories would be to cave into false feelings of shame, fear or inability to cope. It would be to languish in needless defeat. Thatís not Godís plan for you. Christ took all your shame, blame and pain, bearing it all in his own naked, tortured body so that you can lift your head high. Through Christ, you are a winner; not one who runs away, but a hero clothed with divine majesty in Godís royal family.

This is just average writing. Had I striven for excellence it would have undergone very many more revisions. I rarely write my first draft with a computer but after revising it over and over and over I eventually reach the stage where it is so muddled that I am anxious to transfer it to a computer, lest I forget what some of my scribble actually means or I overlook an addition Iíve squeezed in somewhere. Once it is on the computer I read it many more times (usually spread over weeks), further modifying it.