Inside MAI Blog: Thoughts on global publishing

A Writer's Tension between Private and Public Time

"I wanted my kids to know me," the late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs told a reporter, explaining why he authorized his much–awaited biography.

"I wasn't always there for them, and I wanted them to know why and to understand what I did," he said.

Seeing Jobs’s quote, I was reminded that writing, as powerful and personal as it can be, is not a substitute for direct, face-to-face communication. We need both—the written and the verbal communication. However, in the case of Jobs’s children, I suspect that while they will greatly appreciate their father’s book, they will also wish he had spent more time with them.

Like Jobs, writers face a constant tug-of-war in the battle between the demands for private and public time. How does an author carve out the necessary hours for writing AND for quality time with spouse, children and friends? What is the right balance?

I remember a gifted woman in Latin America who for years resisted the thought of writing because of the hurtful example she saw in her father. Editor of an important daily newspaper, her father began every day sitting in bed, reading through half a dozen other newspapers to get ideas for that day’s editorial. This private space was off limits to the children until their father left for work at 11 a.m., and then he didn’t return home until night after they had gone to bed.

Conversely, I think of emerging writers in some countries who don’t spend as much time writing as they should or would like. Here’s the popular reasoning: Since Christian leaders are in such short supply, how dare they spend hours alone writing when there are so many people clamoring for counsel, teaching or a personal meeting?

Finding the balance between private and public time is a lifelong tension for the writer. One writer’s solution will not necessarily work for another, but what has been your experience in this area? In the words of the psalmist, “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”

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Comments:

Edílzar Aguilar - October 18, 2011
yo voté por AMI. Bendiciones. que Dios prosperes su ministerio.

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