Inside MAI Blog: Thoughts on global publishing

Not clowning around

At last week’s writer workshop in Mexico City, we had a clown. I mean a professional clown who works in the circus. Sometimes critics call writers “clowns.” But this was the first time I’d had a real one in a writer workshop.

Alicia wrote a moving account of her Christian conversion story, and I was reminded you don’t need a seminary or journalism degree to create material that will impact readers’ lives. The key is having something worth writing about and being able to tell it well.

Everyone at the Mexico workshop wanted to develop skills to write for publication. Besides Alicia, the group included several pastors, a women’s ministry leader, some school teachers (including one who is blind), a couple of business people, students, and a woman who has three different blogs. These participants had unique life experiences and insights about which only they could write. None had a journalism degree, to my knowledge, but all were eager to build their writing skills.

An editor in a particular country once told me her publishing house would continue to publish mainly translations from the West. “We don’t have Christians who are mature enough to write,” she explained.

Hmmm… By that, I think she meant her writers must be theologians or people with advanced degrees, and we do need highly qualified people to write things like reference works and Bible commentaries. However, if Scripture set the bar this high, we’d have a pretty thin Bible. Say good-bye to the books written by fishermen, shepherds, tree-tenders and tax collectors.

God gives writing talent to men and woman from many backgrounds, and it takes hard work and commitment to develop those talents.

Alicia, the professional clown, does tricks with dogs. None of them write. But I hope by the end of the Mexico workshop, she and the other aspiring writers would agree “you can teach a dog new tricks.”

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