Sacred Compass 2: Writing Tools

This is part 2 of the “interview” I conducted with J. Brent Bill, author of Sacred Compass: The Way of Spiritual Discernment.

I have listed the question, as I sent it to him, in italics with an R. Then I have given his answer, marked with a B, and then my reply marked with an R but not in italics. Brent hasn’t seen this third part yet, but I hope to open up the conversation to you, my dear blog reader, to be part of this dialogue too. I can not promise that Brent Bill himself will answer your questions here – or even read them here – but I will try to continue the discussion if you’re interested.

As a final point to this introduction, I want to be clear that I’ve already read the whole book and I really liked it. I’ve already started recommending it to people in San Francisco. I commend it to your attention.

R: What (besides your sacred compass) are your most important tools for writing a book?

B: The most important tool is time, I think. Time to let the ideas season, to make sure the words are just right, the thoughts are clear. Book writing, for me, is much different than blogging in that way. Blogging, by the very nature of the internet, seems to me to be a much more immediate form -- more of an op-ed piece than an essay or dissertation. And while I think about what I'm going to blog and how to say it, it's a whole different form of writing that does not require the waiting time.

Another tool is listening. From the beginning of an idea I listen -- to myself and my thoughts, to what I think the Spirit's saying to and wants to say through me, and to others and their stories.

Another tool, of course, is my life experience -- from theological training in college and seminary, relationships I've had/have, positions I've held, my life as a writer (including that hundreds of books I've studied to see why/how they work) and so on.

On a practical level, the tools I use most often are a good writing space (which I define as quiet, clean, well lit), a computer, a fountain pen w/ blue or green ink for editing (which I do on hard copy, not the screen), the Bible, various Faith & Practice, and my file of poems.

R: This really resonated with me. The other thing I would have mentioned was snacks. I find that when I’m writing, I like to have something to munch on. But alas, they don’t go well with computer keyboards.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would love to read the book! I'm trying not to buy books and borrow, buy used, or barter. I've got a bunch of spiritual (non-Quaker though) books at home that I'm planning on donating once I finish them. Come to think of it, I should just donate them now and check them out if I want to read them.

And I was thinking of you and Chris and I have a book I'd been talking a lot about and realized I should just let someone else read it. I'll trade for the Compass one? :)

4/23/2008 2:35 PM  

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