Jeremy Sarber

Time, word count, and an aspiration to write books

In hindsight, I should have taken advantage of my flexible schedule as a full-time pastor. For the most part, I set my own hours, but I didn’t always utilize them to accomplish my long-term goals. Though I worked eight or more hours a day, my focus tended to err on the side of weekly or monthly needs—Sunday sermons, for example. How could I think about next year or the year after that when I had a message to prepare before the week’s end?

I’ll admit I’ve aspired to write books for a long time now, though I can’t tell you why. Maybe it’s vanity—you just want to see your name on a dust jacket—but I prefer to think of it as a genuine love for the craft. I enjoy reading books and would like to write a few of my own. Is that so wrong?

Over the years, I’ve written enough words to fill several books. I even published one title, a brief exposition of Jesus’s parable about the prodigal son and his older brother. If you search hard enough, I think you can still find a copy of the audio version. I will warn you, though, it’s not a compelling read. It did give me some self-publishing experience, however, so I don’t altogether regret it.

I’ve had the time and word count to publish a few volumes, but I haven’t done so yet. If you pressed me for an explanation, I might tell you I’m a perfectionist. Sure, I’ll send a less-than-stellar blog post out into the world, but a book demands a higher standard in my opinion. No one should have to pay for prose that barely qualifies as literature. Even if the subject and substance are worth your time, I still believe the overall quality should be—refreshing is the first word that comes to mind. Yes, refreshing.

Then again, maybe I’m making excuses. Perhaps I rode these excuses right into my present circumstance where time for writing is relatively limited and focus is in short supply. My job requires nearly eleven hours of my day if I include the commute, and most of the remainder goes to my family. Assuming my exhausted brain can manage, I reserve the final thirty minutes or so for studying and writing just before bed.

I’m not complaining. This confession is an acknowledgment of my former procrastination and current excuse-making. Writing books—writing anything worth reading for that matter—is both difficult and time-consuming. A would-be author can have no reasonable excuses. Either he sacrifices the hours and sweat to put words on paper or he doesn’t. If he does, mission accomplished. Chances are, he won’t be able to quit his day job, but he’ll at least find a semblance of accomplishment. If he doesn’t, well, he may find himself writing a blog post like this one.

If the aspiring writer has learned anything from his struggles—

If I have learned anything from my struggles, I’ll work harder. I’ll press on, plodding if that’s what it takes. I’ll strive through trial and error to discover a routine conducive to my current schedule. I’ll put words on paper, one after the other, until I have the right ones in the right order—some of them anyhow. Perfection is a lousy excuse, remember? And when the infamous writer’s block stands in my way, I’ll still write something. You are, by the way, reading that something.

Sweet dreams. My time is up, and my coffee cup is dry. I’m going to bed.