Wednesday, April 11, 2012

“An unfinished manuscript cannot….”

You’re probably like me: a few choice one-liners have danced around in your mind for years.

Take, for example, Lee Roddy’sAn unfinished manuscript cannot change lives.” Years ago I read it for the first time in Marlene Bagnull’s Write His Answer, and it has always stuck with me.

Here’s Roddy’s entire quote:

“… An unfinished manuscript cannot change lives. Even a finished one cannot minister in a drawer or filing cabinet. Only in published form can a book go where you and I will never go, to people we will never meet. Only in published form can a book make a difference in eternity.”

(Interpret Roddy’s use of the word “published” as “finished and in the hands of your readers.” Today you have dozens of ways to publish your stories, so please don’t assume you have to find an agent and publisher for your memoir. We’ll consider your publishing options on another day.)

Roddy’s words hit close to home since, as you know from Saturday’s post, I’m struggling to write a vignette about Tom Durr. My heart and mind tell me that my kids, grandkids and, in the future, my great-grandkids need to know Tom’s story.

Like Andrew Zahn said, I have this story in me that’s begging to get out.

“Having a story of redemption and deliverance
isn’t enough.
It’s the telling of my story that brings victory.
As I put words to what God has done in my life,
I continue to overcome.
But if I keep it to myself,
God doesn’t get glorified in it
and I don’t move forward.…
We have to put words to our testimony.
You’ve got a story to tell.
Tell it."

by Alece at Grit and Glory blog,

Many thanks to those who left comments and advice for my vignette. I’ve taken every message to heart and you all have encouraged me to continue working on the story.

I’ve also puttered around The Bookshelf Muse blog, especially their Emotional Thesaurus, where I’ve found specific words and phrases to use in my vignette. (You’ll find a link to The Bookshelf Muse toward the bottom right column.)

Since your stories and mine serve as a ministry to our family and other readers, praying for God’s help is a must!

What else is a must for your writing?


  1. Discipline!
    How easily I let the mundane take over the eternal. After an inspired "start," I'm struggling to put in the time necessary to type out the words of my story.
    "Please help me LORD!"

    1. "An inspired start." I know what you mean.

      And now may God give you an "inspired middle and ending" too! Bless you as you find the time and just the right words. Thanks for stopping by, Jess. :)


  2. Oh, I needed this today, Linda! Thanks for the push!

  3. I wish you could know exactly how much that quote meant to me today. I've been working on an outline and some draft chapters for a book for cancer patients. Today I was having one of those days where I hit a roadblock, questioning and doubting what I've written so far, having a hard time getting started with the next bit of writing. I saw your blog post with that quote from Zahn and it was as if those words flipped a switch in my psyche and got me back on track. A heartfelt thanks for being my Muse today.

  4. Lia and Cathy, isn't it amazing the way God can speak just a few words of encouragement and inspiration into our hearts and minds--from total strangers? --from people like Andrew Z. and Alece and Lee Roddy. I love it. Always remember God can use your words to bless others! What fun it is to take these writing journeys with you dear ones. :)