Some months ago, I enjoyed a roundtable discussion with Dr. Greg Garrett, an English professor at Baylor University, along with a handful of writer friends. I remember asking him: “How do you know when you have an idea that could merit a book?” Not just a blog or blog series, as I and many in the 21st century have become accustomed to, but a book.
The answer: “When the idea won’t leave you alone. When it’s an idea that you haven’t seen written before in quite the way you envision. And you have reason to believe some people out there need to see it written in the way you envision.”
Well, I have an idea that won’t leave me alone.
There’s a document on my computer that’s titled “Brainstorming” and dated December 27, 2014. For 9 months, it’s been mulling in my mind like a baby in the womb. And for many more months, the life experiences necessary to have the idea have been accumulating.
I’ve finally begun to share the idea with my roommates and writer’s group, and announcing the conception of a book felt slightly like announcing a pregnancy. The writers around the table oohed and awed and asked “What’s it called?” And I laughed and shrugged and said “I don’t know its title yet. I don’t even know if it’s a boy or a girl!” I was even holding my stomach through this discussion, either out of some maternal instinct or (more likely) because we were eating our weight in tacos at the time.
So, here’s the idea — the most basic embryo of an idea at this point: a collection of memoir-style essays about my journey with diverse prayer practices.
Prayer won’t leave me alone. Writing won’t leave me alone. So, I’m putting two and two together and writing about prayer. Not a how-to, a self-help, a devotional. A story.
Moving forward, that means I’ll be trying to do a lot of the following:
- Research. I’m trying to read a lot of a) spiritual memoirs, to immerse myself in the genre I’m using b) materials on prayer, to immerse myself in the subject matter I’m addressing. This research is something I’ve already started, expect to increase, and dream of pursuing during a grad school program as well.
- Storytelling. During and after the research process, I’ll be practicing writing about prayer practices. Some of this will likely appear here on the blog.
- Prayer. Because how can I write about prayer without, well, engaging in prayer? As with any dream, there will be plenty of distractions and discouragements, no doubt. So I’d appreciate your prayers too!
Soon forthcoming: my reading list of spiritual memoirs and materials on prayer. Recommendations welcome.