Dealing with the Unspoken

[Thornton] Wilder taught me that what a writer deals with is the unspoken, what people see or sense in silence. (from Sol Stein in “Stein on Writing”–Chapter One)

The other day I went to the grocery store for my wife. She’d given me a list of items to purchase and I immediately set it down on the counter. Later she left for school, and in the other car I left for the store. Having forgotten the list I ran back to the house, grabbed the paper off the counter, and started back to the store. As I walked into the store I retrieved the list from my pocket and glanced at it. It was a shopping list, but not for the grocery, but for a few items needed from the drugstore. I’d picked up the wrong list.  Continue reading

Lessons Learned from Ruth Graham

Ruth Bell GrahamOne of the great pleasures of my life was knowing and working with Ruth Bell Graham for more than 20 years.

When I first meet authors with whom I may work, I always ask them to name their favorite book. It’s a test to see a little bit of the character of the author. When I asked Ruth on our first meeting, without hesitation she answered, Men of the Covenant. Surprised, I responded, “Do you mean Alexander Smellie’s book about the persecution of the Scottish Church?” She just smiled and I suddenly realized it was more a test of me than of her. From that moment on we became fast friends.

Over the years I served Ruth as book developer, editor, agent and occasionally as the collator of her notes into rough chapters. We spent many hours talking books, poetry, theology, as well as details of her life. She also always asked, and showed interest, in the mundane details of my life.  Continue reading