Tuesday, 12 May 2009
Some thoughts on the writing process:
1. It is so tempting to act as if I’m supposed to turn each chapter into a PhD. First time in my life I’ve ever been remotely interested in patristics. Knowing how far to go and when to stop is a real challenge.
2. Finding the right voice is also a bit of a conundrum. The book’s meant to be based on academic standard research but it is not to be an academic text book. I really want to make it readable and I’ve already come up with loads of what seem to me to be nice turns of phrase, neat, catchy and down to earth - Gregory, Greg and Basil as a Byzantine boy band for bishops anyone? Now this would work well in a sermon or blog but …
3. Constantine and what he did to the church: seems to me both sides of the argument are wrong. He was neither an out and out angel nor an unspeakable demon. Yes of course he was hugely significant. Yes of course the lust for worldly power screwed up faithful witness, big time. But it really wasn’t all down to the emperor. So easy to hang it all on a particular individual. Easy, but wrong.
4. Which brings me back to finding the right approach. Not so much style this time, but argument. Let’s face it, it’s far easier to make a splash and get a reading if you have a clear point to make and if you make it with a flourish. You know, forget the nuances, just ram it home. On the other hand the evidence has a habit of getting in the way of a good point. But how to be subtle AND communicate with force? Is truth always the price we pay for effective rhetoric?
5. The best way to get something written is to avoid procrastination and resist distraction. So I’m going to stop.