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What do you know about writing? What do you know about publishing books?

It's not complicated, but there are many steps involved. Whoops -- perhaps that sentence is self-contradictory. Let's rephrase it: It may be complicated, but it isn't too difficult.

To write a book, we start with the manuscript, called the MS. (Plural is MSS.) The term manuscript comes from manuscriptus. That breaks down into manu (hand) and scriptus (written).

Many folks still write by hand, which is a great skill. I stopped hand-writing long ago because I write so fast and it becomes difficult to read. (Okay, I tend to write sloppily.) Therefore, I learned to type on the typewriter, but I now type (write) using the computer. (I write notes to myself, but later, I type them into the computer.) I encourage people to use the computer because mistakes are so easy to fix. It's also easy to modify, add and delete things.

I've heard a great many people groan, "I'm not a writer. I can't write." But that's simply not true. They might not have a desire to write, they may not have confidence in their ability and they might not have time to write. But they CAN write -- or type, as the case may be.

The first step in writing is: You have something to share, or talk about. Everyone who is living has something interesting they can talk about. I remember my dad telling me about a friend (We'll call him George.) whose school teacher gave the assignment to write/type a 5-page, single-spaced paper about a dime – yep, a 10-cent coin – and give a talk about it. George complained that there wasn't enough information for the assignment. However, his grade depended on it, so he dove in.

The second step: You want to share it. As George checked the books out of the library (this pre-dated the internet), he began to realize that life was tremendously larger than the little world he grew up in. Getting interested, he forgot about the 5-page limit and wrote 15 pages about that little dime. He studied the serrated edge, how the serrated edge was made, why President Truman's image was chosen, how the image was created, what metal was used, why it was chosen, how it was mined and smelted, and so on. He became excited about the topic. As he was finalizing the paper, he couldn't reduce it down to 9 pages, let alone 5. (He got an A+ anyway because it was packed with real information – not fluff or filler.)

The third step: Create the time to write. Like most of us, George's calendar was full. However, as he prioritized his schedule, he realized that several items were not necessary. Some were posted merely because he had nothing else going on. Our problem is this: once something is on the schedule, it becomes important. Therefore, we need to think about and clean up our schedule periodically.

The fourth step: Sit down and write. This is actually the hard part – until you have trained yourself. Back in 1964 when my wife-to-be and I were in college, I truly enjoyed studying, but I hated writing. (These were pre-computer days.) I trudged along fitfully. After we were married in 1966, I continued my education -- and still hated writing -- but I had a helper. I studied and took notes, and Carol helped me do the writing. She taught me well, and I've become the writer in the family.

The fifth step: Learn to write it well.

If we tell/write in a lively, interesting manner, people will want to hear us or read what we write. My brother, Paul, created and taught a university course called Creative Non-Fiction. The definition of that title is: A true story, well-told.

For example, I could say, "I went to the store but was delayed for two hours."

Or, I could say, "Almost out of food, I had to brave the blinding snow-storm. Three miles from the store, I was delayed for two hours because of a four-car pile-up! With two fire trucks, four ambulances, and police cars everywhere, traffic wasn't moving!"

You see what I mean? The second part is true – non-fiction – but told in an interesting manner.

You, dear reader, can write, and someone might want to read your story. The Siloam Springs Writers Guild can help you. For more information, see contact info below.

In a future Reflection, we'll talk about publishing your story.

-- S. Eugene Linzey is the author of 'Charter of the Christian Faith.' Send comments and questions to [email protected] Visit his website at The opinions expressed are those of the author.

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