Author Wednesday: Why We Write (1st Part) by William Girao

Posted: March 30, 2011 in Author Wednesday
Tags: , , , ,

This is the first of a two-part series written by one of OMF Literature’s long-time authors, Rev. William Girao, author of  Being Single is Better, I Don’t Want to Feel This Way and his newest best-seller How to Live the Way God Wants . Part 2 will be posted next week! Hope this inspires all current and future writers…

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IF YOU COULD, AVOID IT!

If you could avoid becoming a Christian writer, avoid it! Why?

Well, for one, except in rare cases, no one becomes rich through writing. There is no money in writing.

Writing is a lonely job. When you write it’s just you and a computer or a blank sheet of paper. Writing requires great discipline. It entails keeping your concentration in the midst of the cacophony of traffic, talk, and the TV.

It is, moreover, not easy to find a publisher. Publishers have requirements that are often enough to discourage most writers. Before your book could be published, you have to go through editors who will change or entirely delete whole paragraphs, pages and even chapters of—what to you—are priceless gems of wisdom!

It is one thing to write; it is another to have people buy and read what you have written. I, for instance, know two Fil-Ams, one of them is a friend of mine, who on their retirement in the US withdrew their sizable pensions in full. They used their pension to finance the publication of their respective books. To their great dismay, they lost all their money—no one wanted to buy their books.

If you could avoid becoming a Christian writer, avoid it. But many, including myself, have not avoided becoming Christian writers.

WHY WE WRITE

1. The ministry of Christian writing is crucial because God’s Word is the Written Word.

The Bible, the written Word of God, is the single most compelling evidence of the importance of Christian writing. God Himself commanded that His Word and His law should be written down.

“Then the LORD said to Moses, ‘Write down these words for in accordance with these words, I have made a covenant with you and with Israel.’” Exodus 34:27

“This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: ‘Write on a book all the words I have spoken to you.’” Jeremiah 30:2

“Then the LORD replied: ‘Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it.’” Habakkuk 2:2

The “action prophets” such as Elijah, Elisha and Nathan inspire us with their lives and ministry. But we don’t learn much from them about God’s message since they did not write down what they proclaimed. In contrast, the “writing prophets” such as Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Daniel not only inspire us with their lives and ministry, but also teach us much about God and His message because they left a written record of what they proclaimed in Israel.

2. We must write so that God’s people will not forget God’s law and that all the world may know about God’s mighty deeds.

God Himself wrote down His Ten Commandments on tablets of stone, so His people will not forget His law.

“The LORD said to Moses, ‘Come up to me on the mountain and stay here, and I will give you the tablets of stone, with the law and commands I have written for their instruction.’” Exodus 24:12

Both Moses and Joshua carefully recorded in writing what God has done for His people so Israel would never forget God’s mighty interventions on their behalf (Exodus 17:14; Deuteronomy 31:9-13).

“There in the presence of the Israelites, Joshua copied on the stones the law of Moses, which he had written.” Joshua 8:32

3. We write because what is written has authority and permanence.

Someone might say, isn’t it true that nowhere in Scripture are we told, that Jesus Christ wrote down any of His teachings? That may be so but, thankfully, four of Jesus’ followers gave us a careful account of Jesus’ life and teachings (Luke 1:1-4; Matt. 1:22; 2:5; John 21:24).

What is written has authority and permanence. This is the reason why land and real estate property titles and contracts, including marriage contracts, are written on paper, notarized and submitted to the Registry of Deeds. I usually ask for a written invitation when I am invited to speak in a gathering. Oral invitations—whether in person or by telephone—are subject to change. A written invitation, on the other hand, appears more formal and concrete. For me, receiving a greeting card during Christmas and other special occasions is preferable than getting ten text messages. What is written on a card stays but text messages are impermanent; sooner or later they must be deleted from your cell phone.

4. We write because writing multiplies the reach of our message.

My first book Managers, Not Owners, A Biblical Understanding of Christian Stewardship was based on my sermons at the Diliman Campus Bible Church where I served as pastor for 17 years. When I preached these sermons, there were about 60 young professionals and U.P. students who heard me. Since its publication in 1988, the book has sold close to 40,000 copies. Because a copy of a book could, on average, have three people reading it, 40,000 copies sold have the potential of reaching 120,000 readers. The book, then, is able to reach not just ten times or a hundred times more than the original 60 listeners of my sermon but 2,000 times more people.

Writing multiplies the reach of our message. I have received responses to my books from all over the Philippines—from Tuguegarao to General Santos City; from Baguio to Zamboanga, as well as from abroad—the Solomon Islands, Uganda, Papua New Guinea, the US, and Canada.

5. We write because a book assumes a life and ministry of its own, independent of its author.

The prophet Isaiah was killed by the wicked king Manasseh but his written message lives on. Jeremiah was killed by a mob but his written messages continue to speak. The apostle Paul was beheaded by Nero but his Epistles continue to proclaim God’s message. Martin Luther was excommunicated by the Roman Catholic Church but it did not stop the spread of his writings. Dietrich Bonhoeffer was executed by the Nazis but his writings could not be extinguished.

Two years ago, someone emailed OMF Lit, my publisher.  The sender related how he had already decided to commit suicide but reading my book I Don’t Want to Feel this Way stopped him from doing so. If only for a precious life saved, writing book has been more than worth all the effort and expense.

Three years ago, I spoke in a pastors’ conference in South Cotabato. In the conference a pastor who was receiving only P500 a month from his church bought P300 worth of my books. My friend who was in-charge of selling my books could not help but ask the pastor, “Your church salary is only P500 a month. Now that you have bought books worth P300, where will you get the money to provide food for your family this month?”

“My family and I,” the pastor replied, “will just have to eat rice—and nothing more this coming month. But we will gladly do this, if only that I may have these books that will surely help me in my ministry.” Moved by such a willingness to sacrifice, my friend returned the pastor’s money and paid for the books.

6. We write because books are irreplaceable. In spite of amazing advances in information technology, I am convinced that electronic communication will not make the printed page obsolete.

We live in the time of rapid technological advancement. This is the Age of Information Explosion, the Age of Electronic Media, and the Age of Instant Global Communication. In the late 1980’s, some experts predicted that by 1990’s books will be obsolete; that books will be found only in museums.

If such a time will come, at all, it will still be in the far and distant future—or it may not come at all. That is so because computers are too expensive for two-thirds of the world’s population, electricity is not yet available in many places, and electronic gadgets are too complicated and inconvenient for most people.

Writer John Mortimer aptly describes the advantages of books over electronic gadgets:

“There’s nothing like a book. You don’t have to switch it on or change its batteries. You needn’t summon up its print with tedious manipulation of a mechanical mouse…. It can be held in the hand, taken for walks, read in bed or the beach and resorted to when waiting in doctors’ offices or to while away the long period before a waiter takes any notice of you.”

7. We write because if we don’t, we lose the battle for the hearts and minds of our generation.

When the Communists took over China, they told the Christian missionaries: “You taught the Chinese how to read; we gave them what to read; and we won the battle.”

Some lament that we Filipinos are not a reading people. But this perception is not entirely accurate. Otherwise, how do we explain the growth and proliferation of bookstores such as National Bookstore, PowerBooks, Fully Booked, Philippine Christian Bookstores, and, of course, OMF Lit Bookshops? As we traverse the sidewalks of Manila and other Philippine cities, we see the many magazines and newspapers.

Those who read are the educated ones who, subsequently, heavily influence the values, thinking, direction and worldview of Philippine society. We must write and present the Christian message to our reading decision-makers and opinion-influencers or we lose the battle for the minds and hearts of our generation by default.

Copyright, William B. Girao, 2010. Not for distribution.

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William Girao served as the senior pastor of Diliman Campus Bible Church for 17 years. He received his Master of Divinity degree from the Asian Theological Seminary . He is an ordained minister who also served as a staffworker of the Intervarsity Christian Fellowship for 17 years.

He is married to Dolly Inocencio with whom he has three children: Gary William, a medical doctor; Viju Jess, an educator; and Leah Dolly, a chemical engineer

His books are available at all OMF Lit Bookshops nationwide.


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Comments
  1. […] Tuesday Tips for Writers: Why We Write (Part 2) Posted: April 5, 2011 by omflit in Tuesday Tips for Writers Tags: how to live the way God wants, tuesday tips, william girao 0 This is the second of a two-part series written by one of OMF Literature’s long-time authors, Rev. William Girao, author of  Being Single is Better, I Don’t Want to Feel This Way and his newest best-seller How to Live the Way God Wants . You can read the first part here […]

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