Before I say this, just know that I am not bragging. I am sure that this is not anything to brag about. But you and I are friends and I always endeavor to be honest with you so you should know the truth.
When it comes to my books — there are six now — I have a hard time remembering precisely what I have written in each. My best defense is to say: I write what I write then I move on, with hardly a backward glance. I head into the next book, next column or next speech to be written.
In full disclosure, I must tell you that I am not talented. I am, instead, blessed by divine inspiration so that anything I write that is clever, wise, witty or well put-together does not come from this feeble mind of mine. It is owing to the grace of the good Lord when He chooses to overtake my lack of ability, gives me some well-selected words and graciously allows me to take credit. Since the things I write are not wholly mine but rather holy given, these words apparently pass through my mind like a sieve. This is particularly interesting since I have an incredible memory yet I cannot recall everything I have written — especially if it’s good. It’s as if the words don’t belong to me. I don’t possess them, so I don’t hold them near to my memory.
I rarely am impressed with anything I write. When I was in the studio recording the audio version of one of my books, I was struck by the lyrical, poetic writing of the first chapter.
“Where,” I asked myself, “did that come from?”
Unlike some writers, I do not read over my stuff repeatedly. I don’t think that much of myself as a writer, but I do know I have an instinct for finding and telling a good story. This has become abundantly clear to me lately. A novel I made up a few years ago is being made into a movie. Over coffee in Beverly Hills, the writer assigned to the project, waxed on about characters and intricate turns in the plot.
“This is such wonderful writing,” she said with genuine enthusiasm. I tried to mask the blank stare in my eyes, unable to recall some of the most “wonderful” bits she loved about the book. It was akin to being in senior English literature and having Miss Kelly ask me about Moby Dick, a book I hated and, therefore, had skipped through most of it. I knew just enough to bluff through any question she asked.
When I got home, I said to my husband, “I’ve got to read that book again.”
I’d like to be able to say truthfully that is rare, but it’s not. With my last book, freshly written and filled with my favorite stories of inspiration, I hit the road for a three-week book tour. The publicist with my publisher had scheduled media interviews and numerous talks and book signings. I had just written the book on a tremendously tight deadline after it sold at auction among several publishers. I had read through three rounds of edits. Still, I had to sit down and read it again before hitting the road. And make notes, too.
A while back, a lovely young lady approached me and, without introduction, recited several lines of wise, well-written prose.
“That’s lovely!” I gasped. “Who wrote that?
She was taken aback and stared for a moment before finally answering. “You did. It’s in your first book.”
Well, apparently, that’s another book I need to re-read, too. The good Lord must have done a good job on that one, too.