Monday, July 27, 2009

Writers Help Writers - Martin

What I have found so delightful about established writers — particularly about writers who are Christians — is that they are ever-so-ready to encourage other writers. Why is this? It can’t be merely the flattery of imitation, for often they help those on quite divergent paths. It can’t be merely motivated by having a book to sell — for they often help others to become established as competition for their own books. I believe it has to do with the feeling of contributing to something substantial, something bigger than their own careers. As Christians, it takes on a sense of ministry, when there’s a shared sense of Kingdom work..

A well-read writer will often direct a fellow writer to read the very best books in the area the other is working in. Often she will make editing suggestions on a manuscript. Frequently he will write an endorsement for a book jacket. Sometimes one writer, with connections, hears of an opportunity that would suit another quite well, and either passes on the information or even puts in a plug for the up-and-comer.

It’s true that sometimes this help is paid for, coming in the form of teaching or critiques — for the worker “is worthy of his hire” — although I know that I get paid better in my professional life, than I do for any of the work I do within my vocation as a writer. Even so, sometimes it’s done for free, such as through writers groups or correspondence.

What I have found to be delightful about serious beginning writers — particularly about writers who are Christians — is that they are ever-so-ready to encourage the established writers they meet. This can come in the form of writing reviews of that person’s latest book, seeking out their advice at teaching sessions, buying a copy of their book, and encouraging their friends or even their local library to also buy a copy.

The fellowship of Christian writers is stronger than anything we have with our non-Christian counterparts. The Word Guild is a wonderful way to connect with so many other Christian writers. Thanks to those of you — both established writers and beginners — who have been an encouragement to me.

D.S. Martin is Music Critic for Christian Week; his new poetry book, Poiema (Wipf & Stock), and his chapbook So The Moon Would Not Be Swallowed are available at


Peter Black said...

Ah, appreciation, affirmation, and mutual encouragement. These are hallmarks of The Word Guild and my personal experience of it.
I find there's such a wealth of wisdom and expertise represented --and liberally shared.
Thank you for this focus, Don.

Joanna Mallory said...

Well said, Don and Peter. This supportive atmosphere has made a great difference for many writers. Don, thanks for pointing out how beginning writers can give back encouragement to the more experienced ones who share with them. Often beginners think they have nothing to give, and as you've said, that's not so.

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