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Posts Tagged ‘manuscript editing’

Jo 17Last week, I received a rather agonised email from a writer friend. She told me how, having decided to self-publish her latest book, she checked it through many times and enlisted others to help as well. However, after all that painstaking editing, she managed to send the wrong version off to the printer! By the time she realised her mistake, it was too late. That first print run was complete.

I did not have to try too hard to put myself in her shoes and empathise. I have never self-published, but I know what it feels like to have a publisher print one of my books, having added extra mistakes of his or her own, after I had signed off on the final version and agreed everything was just as I wanted it! I felt my friend’s pain and embarrassment. She was not looking forward to being judged as ignorant or less than thorough, particularly by her writing peers.

In recent weeks, however, I have found myself challenged in an even deeper way to walk in someone else’s shoes. At a friend’s suggestion, I decided to tackle a book of daily spiritual exercises entitled The Ignatian Adventure by Kevin O’Brien. Part of this adventure involves reading the Gospels with all my senses and imagination at work and contemplating the life of Jesus in a fresh, up close and personal way. It involves letting the events of Jesus’ life be present to me right now, as best I can. And it involves allowing the Holy Spirit to touch my heart in the process, rather than merely gaining head knowledge about Jesus.

So far, I have contemplated the birth of Jesus as one of those bystanders in the stable. I have put myself in the shoes of Anna and Simeon at Jesus’ presentation in the temple and wondered what it must have been like for Joseph and Mary to flee to Egypt with their son. I have sensed their confusion when Jesus, as a young man, chooses to stay behind in the temple, asking the teachers questions. I have put myself in those scenes where Jesus calls his first disciples. I have tried to imagine how Jesus must have felt on hearing that affirming voice from heaven as he is baptised in the Jordan River and have asked my loving Father to speak those words into my own spirit. I have been deeply challenged, being with Jesus in that desert as he faces being tempted. I have listened with anger as he experiences rejection in his own home town. I put all my senses to work to picture the scene where a paralytic is lowered through the roof so Jesus can heal him. I heard the criticisms—but I also joined with others who praised God, saying ‘We have never seen anything like this!’ (Mark 2:12)

I’m up to the Sermon on the Mount now—and I can’t wait. I’m so much looking forward to journeying on with Jesus and listening to what the Spirit wants to say to me. I want my relationship with Jesus to be authentic, to be current, to be up close and personal. After all, it’s the best way to become more like him, don’t you think?

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Jo 23I did not have a good attitude as I headed off to catch the train to the city. I was tired. I had writing to do at home and this meeting would take up most of my day. Why waste my time in this way?

I wondered that even more when only six people turned up for our meeting. Usually there were more than twice as many. I stifled a sigh and felt embarrassed for one person who was present for the first time. Surely she’d be disappointed to find the group was so small.

This new person introduced herself and shared about the challenges facing her. Others shared as well, including one lady who had only recently left hospital and was still far from well. When the new person had to leave early, I wondered again if she had felt it was worthwhile. The rest of us then prayed for the lady who had been ill—and straight away it was obvious how important this prayer was for her. We could almost see the weight being lifted off her shoulders as we gathered round her.

The next day, I received a call from the new person who had been present. She wanted to buy two of my books and was also recommending me as a speaker to friends she knew. I thanked her but also told her how sorry I was there had been so few people at our meeting.

‘Oh, that was fine,’ she told me. ‘I was just blown away by the group—it was amazing! I wouldn’t have shared all I did if the group had been any bigger. There’s no one else I can talk to about the things I told the group yesterday.’

How humbling it was to discover I had completely misjudged the situation. Then I realised that, had there been more people present, the lady who had been ill would also probably not have shared as much and we would have been unable to pray for her as we did. It would all have been worth it just for her—let alone for the new person as well. It was as if God had arranged it all just for them.

Yet that was not quite true, because we had all received prayer in the group. The others had prayed for me about completing my current manuscript, although, in my tiredness, I could not remember exactly what they had prayed. That night, I found myself able to get through much more editing than I would have expected—and the following day as well. I felt alert and empowered and more hopeful about this particular manuscript. Could this have happened as a result of those prayers the group had prayed? Hmm.

In my great wisdom, I had thought my trip into town was a waste of time. Yet God had it all in hand, went before us and brought great comfort and healing to us all that day. Who are we to outthink and criticise God? As Isaiah reminds us:

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heaves are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9

I’m so glad that’s the case—aren’t you?

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