Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Statements I Hate to Hear from Writers (Part 2 of 3)

"God gave this to me so I know you'll publish it." I've heard variations on that one, but they all say something like this:

• "God gave it to me."

• "God dictated every word."

• "God awakened me in the middle of the night and said, 'Write!' "

My wife heard all the stories. For several years, she was the acquisitions editor of a devotional magazine. Even though she received a number of such manuscripts, she never found one worthy of publishing.

Here's my suggestion: If God gives you a message to write, don't tell an editor; let an editor tell you. Early in my writing career, I wrote an article called "Grace Builders," and I honestly felt God had given the article to me. I changed exactly one word after my first draft.

I sent it to a publisher and it was accepted. After that, 16 other magazines reprinted it. This is the first time I've ever said God gave me a message, and I can do so now because the results provide strong evidence for my claim. (I didn't tell that to the publisher when I sent the article.)

When I hear people declare they have received divine inspiration, I believe it's a defensive statement. It's as if the person says, "God gave it to me and you can't argue with God or reject God." God's words can stand scrutiny.

One editor told me she responds this way: "God may have told you to write it, but God didn't say I would publish it. When I prayed today, God told me to reject your manuscript."

If God inspires your writing, 
others will know because it will inspire them when they read it.

4 comments:

  1. Thank you for your wisdom, Cec. I once attended a writers' conference in which an editor recounted a similar story.

    A woman had submitted a manuscript which, she claimed, had been given to her verbatim by God. She demanded that the editor publish her manuscript under penalty of God's punishment if the editor did not.

    Admitting the possibility that God had, indeed, given the woman the idea for the manuscript, the wise editor responded, "Madam, God may have given you the idea for your manuscript, but if He also gave you the words verbatim, I would be constrained to conclude that God's writing has considerably deteriorated since He wrote the Psalms."

    To the woman's credit, she got the editor's message.

    Blessings,

    MaryAnn Diorio

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  2. Thank you Mr. Murphey for sharing this. I was one of those writers who truly felt like God had given me the words for a memoir I wrote. When I read in one of your books not to use these words with editors, my feelings were hurt. But as I have now gone to writers conferences and improved my craft, I can truly see how God may have prompted me to write about the subject, but had plenty of room to improve where I started. The truth may hurt new writers, but definitely words they need to hear. Thank you, again, Mr. Murphey.

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  3. Thanks to both Mary and Sheryl.
    About 15 years ago, an editor of a large publishing house sent me at least a dozen queries from writers, all of them insisting (not just stating) that God had given them every word, comma, and period. And they would suffer divine punishment if they didn't publish their books. T
    All of them weren't that threatening, but each one did insist on divine inspiration.


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  4. Such a great reminder of a time that I felt God miraculously prompted me to give my book proposal to an editor. I was at a Beth Moore/ Kay Arthur/Priscilla Shirer event. They mentioned their editor so I wrote down his name and figure that was the reason God prompted me to bring it to this arena filled with 10,000 people. Later that day, they mentioned their editor was at the Arena so I trekked down from the upper regions to the floor trying to spot someone who looked like an editor. I didn’t find him so when break was over, I gave it to God, I had been obedient, brought my book proposal and even left the anonymity of the stands I felt like I had done all I could. “God,” I prayed “if you want me to give this to the editor, show me his face.” Less than 30 minutes later, the speakers called their editor out from under the arena tunnel and his face was broadcast on the Jumbotron. I was able to lean over the balcony and hand my manuscript down into the tunnel. He graciously read my manuscript and explained though I didn’t have a platform to keep writing. As I pondered this God moment, I have been humbled not because I was supposed to be published by this publisher but because God wanted to encourage me to keep writing and to trust that just as he orchestrated these events at the Greensboro Coliseum he would orchestrate the steps of this woman if I was obedient and faithful.

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