Life as research: Confessions, Part 1

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You know what I love about being a writer? No, besides all the beautiful babes. Seriously! It’s that you’re never wasting time. Any time you spend paying attention is helping you become a better writer. No time spent just observing is time wasted. No time spent reading is wasted. No matter what you’re doing as a writer, you’re doing research. That’s a pretty sweet deal, right?

I think I realized this sometime during college. After graduating, traveling, working, and getting married, in the end, I saw moving to Colorado Springs (of all places!) as little more than an extended research trip for us. That’s the God’s honest truth. The fact that it’s still going on six years later may lead you to some other mistaken conclusion, but my whole goal has always been to gather experience for writing. Which is the central reason for this blog, if you want the whole truth. And that I’m still young (and dumb) enough to be writing far-too-truthful things on this blog about my hare-brained ideas for influencing CBA, and being confidently assured something is going to come of sharing it with you here. Certainly, my experience in Christian publishing so far has been useful for such a lofty goal as being a paid writer, and ten times better than anything I got in college (no hard feelings Westmont). And the fact that there are people like you out there who are entertained by my idle prattle and evasive self-deprecation here convinces me to hope that maybe it hasn’t all been just a big mistake.

One can always hope.

Some of you know that when my wife and I first considered moving here from Seattle, having just been married a few months, it was for a job in the publishing department at Focus on the Family. Uh, yeah. Plenty of people warned us. And yes, it was for a low-level, assistant editor job, lowest you could go without being in the mailroom, but that was all beside the point. It was a job in publishing and the fact was it came with some good benefits and a nice relocation allowance. I wasn’t going anywhere as a house-cleaner/drink-slinger with an English degree. So we decided nothing more than a 2-year trial to get my feet wet and see what we could see. Now almost 6 years later, I’ve acquired some book-editing experience and I’ve worked with a select group of people who’ve taught me some incredible (and unrepeatable) things about making books work. And in the general sense, it’s been a little like reading Left Behind or The Da Vinci Code. Wonderful and horrible at the same time. But above all irreversible.

Along the way, I’ve gotten to spend some significant quality time evaluating what makes good books bomb and what shoots bad ones to the top, some of which I’ve pissed and moaned about here. Overall, the editing gig has been an experience I can’t recommend fully to people until I know why it is they’re asking. Yes, there are a few sad sacks who wonder if they might enjoy my job if I were to get run over by a truck or something, and it just happened that they were next in line for my life of luxury and glamour as a CBA acquisitions editor.

Cue nervous laughter.

Yet since it’s been my good fortune to live this extended research trip into the Christian mecca, I’ve strived to share a few things over the past months and years, particular to my vantage point and deepening education in American Christianity, books, publishing, and the CBA industry. I’ve alienated myself and also made some allies sharing my prejudices and fresh-baked assumptions, figuring my central purpose for writing books could serve for the blog as well: the more me I can share, the less me I have to die alone with. But why-ever you’ve come and whoever you are out there, whether waiting to take my position, or just hoping I’ll publish your book before the truck immortalizes me, make a venture back to this greasy spot on the information superhighway over the next few weeks for some never-before-shared confessions and (potentially useful) revelations, some of which will no doubt come in handy for that future job interview.

So there’s my irresistible set up. More to come…stay tuned.

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8 thoughts on “Life as research: Confessions, Part 1”

  1. Mick, I’ve lurked here for a while, but this is my first post. I gotta say, son, I like the cut of your jib. Your comments are always either thought-provoking or laugh-inducing (sometimes both). Like you, I’m doing my bit to see what mischief I can get into in the CBA (check my site and blog, if you’ve a mind to); so far, so good. All that to say, carry on.

  2. Yes! Life is research and people are potential characters. Especially annoying people you are forced to interact with often. When you look at them that way, you stop being annoyed and start observing them more closely. Then you secretly laugh at their absurdities, because you know you will someday put them in a book.
    Hmmm. I think I know what I want to write about on the Master’s Artist tomorrow. Thanks for sparking the idea . . .

  3. I suppose life is research for the writer! Too true. That’s why I tell my wife I need to keep my 6,000 comic book collection too. If Marvel or DC ever come calling, it’s research!

  4. love the honest mick. not that there is any other, but your genuine naivete is so becoming. just lovely.
    i needed a good laugh, and this was just the thing to cheer me up. so add that to your ever growing list of accomplishments.

  5. I love the site. As you know, I am an author with RELEVANT (The Jounrey Towards Relevance). I just wanted to let you know that my next book will be coming out late this Fall. I would love to send you a review copy. Please contact me if you are interested.

  6. Hi, I’m Audrey. I’ve been wandering around here for just a little while. I am so grateful to know that all of the hours I spend searching and reading and thinking are not in vain! But all in all, it seems to me that someone said one time, “A writer writes!” My pencil is dull, but hey, my mind is sharp!

  7. Well, we want to be excellent for Christ, right? Not shoddy, but toned and honed from skin to bone. I just saw a glaring error in an otherwise excellent book. I felt sad about it, let down for everyone concerned, author, editor, agent, reader. I, too, wonder how it got past everyone.
    We want to do better.
    And since we’re writing *Christian* fiction, let’s be sure we *know what we believe and why.*
    That way, however much of the Christian message we present, it’s not Revelation 3-Laodicean–that is, poor, wretched, miserable, blind and naked, but accurate and powerful and true.

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