foundation laying in Spring

Spring nearA friend sent me a series of audio lessons on the ministry of words. Focused teaching on how to be a profitable and successful ghost-writer/commercial copy-writer/editor/consultant/writing for fund raising etc. I am thankful. Occasionally I get invited to write for a church or a non-profit organization the appeal letter or web pages for donations to good course. The lecturer started as a humble unknown script and ad writer and went on to join a Christian organization to be their pamphlet and online web-page writer for sometime before he was finally given an opening to ghost-write an autobiography for a world famous evangelist. he has since been commissioned to write more books under that big name. He is of course now lecturing and having his own consultancy for others in the same writing industry. Will any of the others get this kind of exposure and opportunity? I have no answer. I have forwarded an article of his to another person struggling to raise funds for the Christian charity organization he is currently attached to. Knowing and actually producing results are two different things. I know from my own experience. One trusted way of learning is hands-on practicing what we learn. I am thankful for the exposure and opportunity I have personally encountered. My advice to my readers is, “Hands on and press on.” My personal conviction: Never look down on even a small opening. I never know what the next turn will bring. I like the analogy of building a house. I start by laying a foundation. A small opening is like adding a rock to the foundation. It counts.

Zechariah 48 Moreover the word of the Lord came to me, saying:
9 “The hands of Zerubbabel
Have laid the foundation of this temple;[a]
His hands shall also finish it.
Then you will know
That the Lord of hosts has sent Me to you.
10 For who has despised the day of small things?
For these seven rejoice to see
The plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel.
They are the eyes of the Lord,
Which scan to and fro throughout the whole earth.”

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We preserve words. Merely.

keeper of wordsI have in recent years encountered this question reading, writing, talking, interviewing and pondering over the matters of communication using words. In previous times it was very simple. We used a note/exercise book with lines and recorded our personal thoughts and we called it journaling. Journaling is good like a medicine or a therapy or a hobby or a physical training of the brain cells etc. It is good even on its own without any agenda or defined purpose. The mode that I have adopted up to this point is a free flow note/jot/scrawl/scrabble/put on paper of words just for its own sake. There is no agenda. No defined purpose. No motive to put the product into a book or publish. No marketing strategy. No customer-oriented or niche-focused intention in the production process. Nothing commercial whatsoever. In a way, this is exactly like the doodle I used to do on the margins of all my school texts and exercise books. I did it naturally without concern or even any conscious effort. While the teachers talked I doodled. This is a lifestyle. I started as a pre-schooled kid. I have built this into a whole life occupation without being consciously affecting, effecting, exerting, asserting and directing. Was I bored when I doodled or wrote? Or was I filled with passion and dreams in a un-physical zone? When I try now to analyze I admit I do not know. Is it strange not to know like the highly knowhow-oriented commercial publishing zone when every process must be precise and practicable and proceeded with robotic formula based on publishing industrial best practice and tested ROI  (return on investment) if any? Yes, it is somewhat strange. Not so to a non-profit-oriented journal keeper. To be honest, many of us are mere keepers of some words which do matter to us a lot. We do not want to forget. We preserve words. Merely. We preserve life.

a strange sight: trade writing demand

cropped-letter-writing.gifWriting is not what it seems to be. I used to think that being a writer means you have to be an author of books, fiction or non-fiction. I thought it would be difficult to make a living unless you are pretty good and/or popular. I thought most writers, given a chance, would have chosen something more stable and more widely in demand in terms of earning stable monetary return. However, one day I registered myself with a job hunter and am now on their mailing list for writing/editorial/reporting jobs. Daily I receive an email advising available related jobs. I do not apply them. I just look at them as a way to gauge the writing profession as a viable gainful commercial employment. The list of jobs looking for candidates to fit in is an eye-opener. Writing is not what it seems. The scope and demand for good or relevant writing are beyond imagination. All sorts of commercial and non-commercial corporate organizations and a wide range of trades and industries are looking for persons who can write or rather copy write their information and promotion materials, online or in print. Another kind of data processor. This influx of new demand amazes me. Writing is not such a bleak and lonely lofty industrial island after all. You become part of the corporate team, working with all departments and become a know-all-generalist. Suddenly you have stepped onto the fast track of the corporate machine. There are various related jobs like: Online writer, Content marketing,  Social media marketing,  Modern web writer (infographic). Commercially speaking, “one of the best things about starting a copywriting business is that copywriters are always in demand and you can start your business with little up-front cost and even run it on a part time basis.” Someone said. Indeed, the Word Business. It requires nothing except you.

As for me? I thought I have left the selling scene before.  It seems quite attractive and interesting to re-enter. Perhaps on piece-meal. Freelance. Just to test the water.

words of conscience: a writer’s nightmare

conscience writing Sometimes I sit here and ask, why am I writing? The answer is: I am working on a project for others. I am doing an autobiography on behalf of someone. I find it hard not to think the way I think or put in my own values in others’ lives. My perspectives. My conscience. Why am I writing another person’s “autobiography”? Why is she not writing it herself? It is her story. To be fair it should be her burden. Her own conscience. Not mine. Why bother? For money? No. I do this project for free. For fame? No. It is her name and not mine that will receive all credits and fame. For relationship? No. She was a stranger until I was invited to write for her. She is still a stranger. I have not been able to know this person. I only know what she says she is from the transcription done by another former journalist based on her audio recording. She does not really say much of what she thinks. She merely tells stories and accounts from her life experience with others. Others’ stories mingled with hers. When I interviewed her and tried to gather more so that her memoir has more factual depth and soul reflection about her, I failed. It was like I was confronted with a blank wall. I never realized the difficulty caused by the superficiality of intermittent stories which insist on being put into an integral book calling itself autobiography or memoir. My conscience says, No. This is not how the book should be written. If she writes it herself, she can call it whatever she reckons it to be. She can tell stories and other stuff based on her own imagination, perception, and recall of a past real or imaginary. It will be her conscience and not mine at stake. I read my favorite guide book, written by my best friend, God Himself, the Bible. Everyday He speaks to me through some verses specifically. One day I was shown this verse which I had never paid any attention before. I was reminded of Apostle Paul’s conscience. This is what he wrote:
[From the Bible 2 Corinthians 1:12-14 New King James Version Paul’s Sincerity
12 For our boasting is this: the testimony of our conscience that we conducted ourselves in the world in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom but by the grace of God, and more abundantly toward you.
13 For we are not writing any other things to you than what you read or understand. Now I trust you will understand, even to the end 14 (as also you have understood us in part), that we are your boast as you also are ours, in the day of the Lord Jesus.]
The exact advice I received therefore from the Apostle Paul for writing (or copywriting) is: write in simplicity and godly sincerity.
This is the most difficult challenge for a writer. If I am writing my own memoir I can fall back on my conscience (and values). But if I am writing other’s memoir how can I? This has become like an endless nightmare. Is the language boastful? Am I misleading others? Because the book has a purpose to raise funds for a charitable course the burden is heavy. If I had followed the original audio transcriptions it would not sell. It would not appeal to the heart-string that pulls the purse. What am I to do? Follow or not follow?
Since I had agreed to this project and had spent the last seventeen months on it and had already produced the book in English language last May, and now working on another book in another language, I cannot back out. Languages and cultures differ in terms of telling stories and reading stories. The language with its own prejudicial presupposed-value and cultural preferences create further complication and distortion on the truth.
An English writer or copywriter or translator attempting to write in another language knows the almost impossibility of writing truthfully trying to retain the original English meaning in another language. Not only that readers of another language have different words they think differently and have different values. We need to get into the mind and life of that language to be truthful. Such are the challenges of a dual-lingua writer. First you get into the language and life of your English story-teller. Then you get into the languages and lives of your readers of both languages. Suddenly you become a split personality. We are not just mere pen-wielders. We are livers (or experiencers) of others’ lives and words. Willingly or not, we have no option except to follow the flow of the language we write in. Coming back to my initial question, how to write in simplicity and godly sincerity? My resolution is to be humble and trust the ultimate Writer Himself to pull me through. After all, He created languages and words.