I'm still at the stage of "hours on end to tweak and prune and snip and clip and trim while I edit my latest literary book-child to the point of delivery." Thank you, prayer partners, for your faithful prayers. I'm trying my best to "leisurely walk" through this manuscript rather than writing in the fast lane as is my habit.
The final editing of the chapters of WRITING FOR THE SUPREME EDITOR should be finished soon and nearing production. The chapters titles are: Beginnings and Before, Launching my Writing Career, Selfie Writing, Spreading My Wings, Over Mountains and Plains and Seas, The Joy of Psalming, Passing the Writing Baton, God's Empowering Touch, From Cave Walls to Cyberspace, Legacy on My Mind, Pursue Your Dream and an Epilogue titled Afterglow.
Below is an excerpt explaining my analogy between the skilled master craft of blacksmithing and creative writing wordsmithing.
As I use the term, a wordsmith is similar to a master craftsman like a blacksmith. The blacksmith uses a hammer, an anvil, fire and water as his tools today in much the same way as they were used in past centuries. His raw materials are metal, iron and steel. The wordsmith's tools have morphed through the ages. His words originally were spoken and orally passed down. The yearning for permanency impelled him to change his medium through the centuries as the medium was developed. Mankind has always had wordsmiths—and always will. There are wordsmiths in every language group and they adapt to the times in which they live.
I found definitions of a wordsmith in various dictionaries which expands our understanding: “One skilled in using words, a fluent and prolific writer who manages language very well, someone who can inspire others through the use of brilliantly crafted words or phrases, one who makes up words intuitively, creatively, or purely by accident, one who can turn a tedious story into a magical and merryful story, one well-gifted in the art of writing, one who carefully selects just the right word and word order, a word expert, a creative communicator.”
Ah, how I would love to qualify as a wordsmith as described above! I can only aspire, dream, practice and press on to be counted worthy to bend low in the company of those who do merit such high-sounding descriptions.
Analogies to Blacksmithing
I see many analogies between wordsmithing and blacksmithing. I can only whet your appetite for such an understanding by briefly mentioning a few of them. First, let's look at what a blacksmith does. A blacksmith is a person who uses mega-strength to hammer hot iron on an anvil to change the shape of the material in line with his mental image. The heat in a forge must be intense enough to soften and shape the formerly rigid and unyielding substance. As iron heats to higher temperatures, it first glows red, then orange, yellow, and finally white.
Eventually comes the finishing process. Depending on the master smithy's intended use of the piece, a blacksmith may finish it in a number of ways: Filing brings a piece to final shape, removing sharp edges and smoothing the surface. Heat treatment and case-hardening achieves the desired hardness. The wire brush—as a hand tool or power tool—can further smooth, brighten, and burnish surfaces. Grinding stones, abrasive paper and emery wheels can further shape the material. A range of treatments and finishes can inhibit oxidation and enhance or change the appearance of the piece. An experienced smithy selects the finish based on the metal itself and on the intended use of the item.
All for the Supreme Editor
I look upon my lifetime of wordsmithing in a twofold way: first, the creative words I have been forging into some medium of communication, and second, myself as God's workmanship. He has been forging me into the person He planned for me to be from before the foundation of the world. (Ephesians 1:4) “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10). I am being worked on by His Holy Spirit, and God is working through me and I with Him to write what He wants me to write.
As a wordsmith who is a Christian I have a unique relationship and responsibility to work for and with the “Master Smithy” whom I call in the title of this book, “The Supreme Editor.” He is my Lord, the Omnipotent God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ to whom I am accountable as a good steward. He has the overall plan for any writing project to which He assigns me.
I regard myself in a sense as His amanuensis. The dictionary defines that as a person who assists another to write what the other person desires. Of course God doesn't literally “dictate” what I am to write, contrary to what some “wannabe writers” claim about their fledgling literary works. In further definition and personalizing it, I am at my Master's personal service, “within hand reach” to perform any command. Further defined, an amanuensis is “an intimately trusted servant; like a scribe; a lowly clerk specializing in producing at royal command whatever the Sovereign wishes to write. I like that aspect. I look to the Lord for His nudge, His impression, His ideation for my writing. I try to listen carefully and “do whatever He says” as the Blessed Mother of Jesus instructed the wine servants at the wedding at Cana.
At times my Supreme Editor has said no or not yet when I presented an idea or manuscript to Him. I have not argued with God about it but simply obeyed. I didn't want to end up with a permanent bad hip like Jacob did when he wrestled with the Angel! As a case in point, it was more than thirty years ago that I chose the title for this book and outlined what I had in mind to write. God stopped me. I thought I got a no but it turned out to be a not yet because that was not God's time or mine. I had much more living to do and many difficult and joyous experiences to live through and many more books to write and publish before I was ready. Now He has given me the green light—due time has come!
In my wordsmithing God provides the tools, the material on which I work, the fire, the heat, the energizing strength to soften the hard task of working with words and making them malleable to sculpt for His intended use. At times it is I who am the unyielding iron on which God is working and intense heat is not pleasant but necessary. Sometimes there are difficult writing projects where the heat needs to be intensified. At times in the wordsmithing process the Divine Smithy allows the hefty, muscled “Striker” (the Adversary in this case) to administer a blow to make me more pliant and compliant to His will, as He allowed His servant Job in the Old Testament to go through. All the while He is loving on me, carefully holding me, keeping me safe and steady with His "divine tongs" so that I won't be harmed but perfected.
The Supreme Editor reserves for Himself the process of Finishing and polishing the product or writing project upon which we have worked together. He ordained its intended use. I leave it to His discretion how long the case-hardening finish is to take. At times that might mean an unexplained (to me) delay before a book is published. There have been times other than the example above when twenty years or more elapsed between the actual completion of one of my book manuscripts and the day it rolled off the press—seriously! It might have been me who was in need of the filing of my sharp edges or my finding the better choice of words to communicate His message or a different readership. I concur with the Supreme Editor's insistence on multiple editings. As in blacksmithing, the finished wordsmithing product must be presented shining brightly.
My life assignment from my Supreme Editor has been to learn how to communicate His thoughts to those who read my writings as a skillful blacksmith would as he hammers out iron into steel in the white furnace heat of his forge to create a product of His own choosing.