June 21, 2019
Time for Writing
There Is No Lack of Ideas
Whenever I sit down to write, I must focus on one thing, and set aside a shelf of other clamoring topics and ideas. For as long as I can remember, ideas and responses to words have kept popping into my head. I don't mean what are sometimes referred to as logismoi, which are thoughts that fly in unbidden like birds through an open window (these are usually bad, requiring monitoring and resistance).
I mean, for example, my thoughts in response to a troubling news story on the radio. This often occurred when I was driving a truck from 1992-1997 to supplement my part-time work for Touchstone. I distinctly remember one day, in great (and logismoi-riddled) frustration, I slammed down a notepad I kept for writing down a few phrases I wanted to remember, and asked, "Why do I keep having all these ideas for writing when I don't have the time to develop most of them? Will I ever have that time?" I thought it best if I just stopped thinking about things. But I couldn't stop, though I did calm down.
Later, God granted a wonderful answer to my prayers through a generous donor by allowing me to quit my delivery job and devote full time to Touchstone. I wrote more for a while, but as the publication grew and as internet traffic increased, it seemed writing time diminished.
In an unplanned move a few years ago, I ended up writing this column once a week. This is how it happened. Twice a year, near the end of our fiscal year (June 30) and near the end of the calendar year, I sent out fundraising appeals by email that were effective in helping us continue publication.
But after doing this for a couple of seasons, it bothered me that the only messages I was sending out by email by and large were about fundraising, twice a year. I wanted to dispel any impression that I only write to ask for money, so I began to write for a few weeks on things that occurred to me that might inform, encourage, or edify readers.
I started (was it four years ago?) sending out what turned into "Friday Reflections." And I kept going. I may have missed one or two Fridays since then. (I'd love to hear your comments and ideas!)
It takes time to write, edit, and revise each column. Sometimes I have an idea that ends up going in a different direction by the time I've developed and trimmed it. Sometimes I move from a starting point onto to something different yet related in an important way. Sometimes I write commentary on a current event. I most enjoy spending time reflecting on a biblical text, attempting to probe its depths with my little theological teaspoon.
Once again, I am experiencing, but with less frustration, an overabundance of ideas at this point in my career as an editor and writer. Some of the ideas are large and would take a book. Others would make good short articles, or blog posts.
But my writing time seems restricted. I must manage many ongoing business details of the Fellowship, conference planning (which I love), fundraising, and much more. The internet made things easier and harder at the same time--so many quick emails, so little time. I wish for more time to reflect and write.
I've thought of taking a break from Friday Reflections so I can start a larger project. Ideally, I'd want to take a full 6-month sabbatical and complete a book that's been gestating since 2002! But that would mean hiring someone to take over lots of work. Periodicals do not let you get away so easily!
The funds he raised last year helped us keep Doug Johnson on staff, who is really engaged in our mission and "gets it." He is a now Deputy Editor of Touchstone, but still bears his original burden of raising funds to help us hire the help we need for me to transition from CEO to semi-retired Senior Writer--or something like that.
Doug and I know we can do none of this without God's grace. To help Touchstone and the Fellowship pay our bills and reach new goals, I ask you to consider making a financial contribution today. And I wish to thank many who have already done so!
Any gift you can make, large or small, will directly support this column and keep our publications strong. (And probably keep any logismoi at bay!)
Yours for Christ, Creed & Culture,
James M. Kushiner
Executive Director, The Fellowship of St. James
James M. Kushiner is Executive Editor of Touchstone: A Journal of Mere Christianity, and Executive Director of The Fellowship of St. James.