I wanted to hear, “Jeff you have written a brilliant literary masterpiece. Don’t change a single thing!” What they actually said was, “Thanks for getting us your manuscript. Please cut 20,000 words out of it so people will actually read it.”Do you know how many brain cells gave up their existence for me to get those 20,000 words that now need to be eliminated?
Drive Thru . . .
A Paragraph Of Mine Died
Week of June 2nd
As many of you know I have written a novel. Hopefully one day you will read it. The novel was the second time I have waded into the stream of thoughts and tried to drag them to shore where they could be communicated. The first book was Visible, Vibrant, and Vital, I wrote about the church moving beyond the cutting edge of culture. Although time consuming, the subject matter was one that was not too much of a stretch for me. After all, I talk to people every single day of my life about following Jesus and one of my passions is the church in the culture. The experience of writing that book was challenging but not the blood, sweat, and tears kind of challenge.
The novel however…that is a different animal all together.
Creating characters, placing them in the right settings, describing the action, and manufacturing dialogue were all much more difficult. I convinced the publisher that the idea was good and the contracts were signed. Then it was up to me to get the story on the page. I delivered the manuscript and the response was not what I expected. I wanted to hear, “Jeff you have written a brilliant literary masterpiece. Don’t change a single thing!” What they actually said was, “Thanks for getting us your manuscript. Please cut 20,000 words out of it so people will actually read it.”
Do you know how many brain cells gave up their existence for me to get those 20,000 words that now need to be eliminated?
So I did what they asked.
I went back and tightened, trimmed, and totally reworked sections of the story. When it was done I was amazed to see how much better it actually read. Their ideas had worked. Now we have entered into a new season of editing. My editor is going through the book chapter by chapter. She sends me those chapters with her notes, corrections, and thoughts. I have had some English class flashbacks as of late. The editor notes are in red and there are more than I would like to see.
In the most recent chapter we were editing there was line after line after line of red marks. By the time the red lines were drawn an entire paragraph was gone. Eliminated. Nothing left. The editor left me a note which said, “I think this is information that would be more fun if the reader could figure out for themselves. You give them enough to reach these conclusions. Don’t be afraid to let them engage the story.”
Even though it was a good paragraph. It really was good…trust me. It is a paragraph that will never be published because the editor was correct.
In thinking about it something spiritual drifted across my heart. Our Heavenly Father gives us enough information to be successful. He gives us enough to keep us moving. He gives us enough keep us on track. But just like any other story He also understands that there is a lot of fun and adventure to be found in living it out. He lets us think and figure things out. He gives us more than enough information to get to the right places but He is not afraid to let us engage the story He has written for us.
Like many of you, I often get frustrated because I wish God would tell me more, lay something out with much more detail, and even give me a sneak peek at the future events to unfold. But seriously where is the fun in that?
We are called to lean forward, follow Him, and live by faith.
The story He has written out for us is so much better when find the joy in living that way.
My hope is that I would always trust Him enough to keep moving forward and engage the life that He has destined for me to live. I pray the same for you.
The paragraph that died contained information, too much information, and information that would have robbed the reader of the joy of discovery.
I think sometimes God gives us just enough because He also takes joy in us when we make the discoveries of how good and faithful He really is!
I thank God for the unseen paragraphs!
Add your thoughts to these thoughts.
e-mail Jeff at firstname.lastname@example.org