This week my heart was prepping for the SS lesson for our 2nd grade class on "The Parable of the Talents" in Matthew 25:14-30. Then Saturday afternoon, I picked up where I'd left off in Unleash the Writer Within, and--wouldn't you know it--Cec used that parable to make a point about overcoming fear and the cessation of excuse making in our writing careers. He lists a bunch of excuses or fears and admits they're illogical. But "fear doesn't recognize logic ... doesn't know how to listen to reason." That's certainly true of the third steward in the parable: I've always thought, his excuse for burying the talent doesn't really make sense. After talking through the passage with our second grade class and making application for them, it was my turn (again) to hear it preached back to me. In our morning service for the InnerCity Ministry at HP, the Gospel series we've been working through came to "The Gospel and Stewardship," and this morning's speaker ended up highlighting that same parable, his points being (1) to acknowledge the Giver of all gifts as God, (2) to identify the gifts He's given, and (3) to then use those gifts passionately for His glory.
As I've thought through my review of Cecil Murphey's Unleash the Writer Within, I have come to apply this parable. God gives to each of us gifts in varying degrees. To some five talents, to some two, to others one. It's really not ours to compare what we've been given, just to faithfully fulfill our God-given purpose with passion. I think Cec does this.
I picked Unleash the Writer Within up at a recent writer's conference where Cec was the keynote. He was wonderful. So humble, and so full of so many stories. And it was recommended by a trusted friend.
Honestly, there are other books on writing that I've connected with to a greater degree, such as Roger Rosenblatt's Unless It Moves the Human Heart. But Cec puts himself out there on the page and is honest; I appreciate that. His experience is vast. His perspective valid. Mine may not be the same--experience or perspective. But he's someone I can learn from.
Here are some of the BIG THINGS that I really appreciated about Cec's book:
- The encouragement to be authentic and transparent, to enjoy being who God made you to be.
- The advice to ignore the inner critic until everything's out on the page, and then to let him go at it as you edit, to "write creatively" first, and then to "edit analytically."
- The importance of training and hard work at developing the gift of writing.
- The idea of clear writing: "For excellence in writing, your words on paper need to sound as if you're having a simple, direct conversation with the reader."
- The practical suggestion to use exercise as a means of clearing your mind and prepping to write. Cec is a runner. I swim.
- The importance of prayer throughout the journey.
- The conviction of knowing what you're supposed to write and being committed to writing what God wants you to ... and not writing "until you're assured of what you're supposed to do."
- The humility of an author who's written, co-authored, or collaborated on over a hundred books and even more articles ... who is able to say "I'm still learning."
- The suggestion that when he finds an author he enjoys, he makes it a point to "search for everything that person has written" and then to "start with the earliest-written book. It amazes me," he says, " to observe the growth of the writer from book to book, especially after the first."
Were there things that I disagreed with or did not find helpful? Sure. But, taking Cecil's advice, I've chosen to give what he calls an "appreciative evaluation" because as I think you'll agree, the list of pro's above far surpasses any con's. And I'm willing to admit that I'm still learning too.
Dear Mr. Murphey, if you ever read this, thank you for writing your book and for passing on your insights and passions to the next generation of writers. I love your heart and am so glad I got to hear you speak at Write2Ignite 2013.
For each of us, let's be diligent to THIS WEEK use the talents God has given us ... with PASSION.
If you've read a great book on writing, I'd love to know the title and one reason why the book connected with you. For example, the friend who recommended Unleash the Writer Within said that this book freed her to take a hiatus from writing until it was the right time for her to write again.