On “Good” Writing (blog by me)

When I first began writing, I used http://www.duotrope.com to discover new publications. I submitted every piece of writing to the editors of the publications I found there. To stay organized, I created three folders in my email for their replies to my submissions: a) rejections, b) rejections that requested additional writing, and c) acceptances.  Of course, the rejections folder was filling up the fastest. Although the number of rejections was disappointing, it drove me to learn more about the publishing industry. In particular, I wanted to know: What do editors consider “good” writing? As a more experienced author and editor, I now understand the most important factors of good writing.

  1. Good writing is subjective. Even though my writing was rejected by one editor, eventually some other editor would love it and publish that same rejected piece of writing. This led me to conclude what we all know but (as writers) cannot hear often enough.  As individuals, we all have different opinions of what is good. If you have a piece of writing you love, keep submitting it. You just haven’t found the right editor yet—or maybe the right publication.
  2. Good writing should uphold the mission of the publishing company and fit the theme of the publication.  The mission statement of the publishing company is usually stated plainly on the website. Reading the mission and considering it can provide you with the necessary insight to submit the most fitting piece of writing to that particular publication. (Draw Near’s mission is clearly stated on the MISSION & CONTACT page, and the most recent theme appears on the CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS page.)
  3. Good writing follows the rules of punctuation and contains no spelling errors. Although some writers might think breaking some punctuation rules or making a spelling error is no big deal, it actually is problematic to editors. I strongly recommend regularly reviewing guide books on punctuation and researching every questionable rule of punctuation that surfaces as you write. Additionally, read your writing several times for spelling errors prior to submitting. The competition in the writing industry is fierce. Do not let yourself lose an opportunity based on technical errors.

I hope these tips I learned during my writing journey will help you to get more of your writing published. Don’t let rejection letters steal your hope to become a successful writer. Instead, use those rejections to drive you to hone your skills and to become a more savvy writer. Have a great day and God bless!

 

On Writing Poetry (by me)

I have not written many poems lately because I am currently reviewing poetry submissions for a new project called Blessed Creation: A Christian Poetry Collection. This publication will provide writers the opportunity to spotlight an aspect of God’s creation with their poetry. If interested, please visit the Call for Submissions page. In today’s blog, I want to share my process for writing poetry.

I usually start my poetry writing process with a memory. If I am not inspired by a memory, it could be a dream, a beloved animal or flower, an art piece, a sermon, or someone I saw on the street… Really the possibilities for inspiration are endless! From this inspiring idea, I develop and jot down one or two lines for the poem.

Next, I try to decide if what form the poem should take. (See http://www.shadowpoetry.com to learn more about poetry forms.) If my primary purpose is to communicate a concrete message, I will often choose free verse. Mangling a message to fit into a rhyming or syllable form simply will not do. However, I love expressing flexible ideas through rhyming poetry forms like a sonnet or rhyme royal. Rhyming poems can be fun, beautiful, and complex. I personally prefer to use near rhymes instead of obvious rhymes to make it sound more sophisticated. (Visit http://www.rhymezone.com to access near rhyme suggestions for your own poetry.) Syllable poetry forms like haiku and sijo are useful to capture the short attention span of new readers. (Visit http://www.wordcalc.com if you don’t like counting syllables by hand.) When no poetry form seems suitable, I simply invent my own poetry form! Creative people create. We can’t help it. Once the form is selected, I can add more lines to the poem until it is complete.

Once the poem is finished, I reflect on the message of the poem. For me, there is always a balance to be struck. I review and ask myself questions like:

  • Does the poem honor God?
  • Is it original?
  • Was I transparent and “for real” about my true emotions?
  • Would it be considered offensive or judgmental?
  • Does it reveal God’s heart for His people?
  • Is it too syrupy sweet?
  • Does it glorify sinful practices in any way?
  • Does it speak truth according to the Word of God?

If I don’t like my answers, it is time to rewrite the poem to ensure the integrity of my work as a Christian writer. In obedience to what God has called me to do, one thing is certain—I keep writing. My readers here on this site really encourage me to fulfill my calling as a writer. I could not continue day in and day out with your supportive likes and comments (which I can read although they do not publicly post). (If you seek an encouraging poetry community, you can find one at http://www.poetrysoup.com.)

That’s it! I hope the review of my writing process helps you in some way. If you landed here because of your interest in writing but do not consider yourself a Christian, please visit Draw Near’s About God page. Additionally, I am happy to read and reply to emails if you simply have questions or concerns about the Christian faith. (See the Contact page.) Maybe there is a more significant reason you landed on this page. Thanks for reading and God bless!

Call for Submissions

“God saw all that he had made, and it was very good….”—Genesis 1:31

Draw Near is currently accepting Christian poetry submissions for a new free ebook. The theme is CREATION so poems about anything created by God will be shown preference. The theme could include a variety of subjects such as a man or woman, an introspective view into yourself, a character profile of someone else, a relationship, an animal, a plant, a continent, a country, a landscape, etc. Write about something you love and how it relates to God. All forms (except shape poetry) will be accepted. Draw Near desires to showcase a variety of rhyming, syllable, non-rhyming free verse, and newly invented poetry.

Carefully read the following guidelines before submitting.
1. Email your poem to k.bondofstl@yahoo.com. Poems can be submitted in the email or as an attachment (.doc, .docx, .pdf). Avoid using special fonts and formats (such as centering, italics, etc). Include your poem’s title and “by” line in the email. (A pen name is okay.)
2. You may include a short biography (optional). If your poem is selected, Draw Near will share your bio in a blog. The bio should not exceed three sentences. One link to your personal website or social media is acceptable.
3. New or old poems will be accepted. Draw Near will gladly accept poems that you have published on the internet (on your website or a public forum). However, I am not interested in poems already accepted by other editors/publishers. Simultaneous submissions are accepted. Please notify Draw Near immediately if your poem is accepted elsewhere.
4. Submit a maximum of three poems. Only one poem submission will be accepted. Poems with indecent words or subjects will be rejected without consideration.
5. The deadline is November 20, 2016.
6. Unfortunately, you will not be paid for your submission. Please submit only if you wish to glorify God and help others draw near to Christ. All submissions will be read and acknowledged. However, Draw Near will only accept quality writing that adheres to these guidelines for publication.
7. PLEASE READ THIS IMPORTANT INFORMATION ABOUT RIGHTS!!! By submitting a creative work:
• you certify you are the author of the creative work.
• you agree to give the publisher rights to publish your creative work in a single publication.
• you authorize the publisher to make this publication available in print and electronic formats.
• you agree to allow the publisher to post this publication on this website and other websites designed for hosting print and electronic formats.
• you retain the copyright to your work.
• you will be credited for your creative work (either as your real or pen name).

Still interested? Send in your poem to k.bondofstl@yahoo.com today!

Submission

jam

When Christians hear the word submission, their minds may automatically jump to the controversial subject of submission of wives to their husbands. However, all Christians are called into a lifetime of submission. Christians are called to submit first and foremost to God as stated in James 4: 7 “Submit yourselves, then, to God….”.  Jesus lived in perfect submission to His Father. He never argued with Him about His rights or rebelled against Him. Instead, He yielded to His Father’s will because He trusted Him. He is our example.

We are called to submit to the government and other authorities. Romans 13: 1 states, “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.” This means everything from following speed limits to paying taxes. It means we cannot use our own judgment or take what is entitled to us.

Common sense tells us to submit to our bosses, but Christians are called to do even more than submit but to “serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people…” in Ephesians 6:7. Putting forth our best efforts is a testimony to our boss and coworkers that God is good. If you think you are being treated unfairly, do not seek revenge with poor efforts.

Christian children must obey their parents as it says in Ephesians 6:1 , “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.” This basic relationship teaches us to know our place.

Submission is an attitude fortified with humility and obedience. These are characteristics God wants to instill in us because we cannot live in a proper relationship with the Lord unless we are trained in submission. If we cannot submit to earthly authority, how can we submit to God?

Ephesians 5: 22 states, “Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord.” As women’s rights gained prominence, the above verse became increasingly controversial. Some non-Christians think it is demeaning to women. Even some Christians think this is a verse that was meant for the time period it was written in and does not apply to us. I do not think it is demeaning or outdated.

Our Creator gave a masterful order to the universe. He instituted the laws of gravity. Our Father in heaven also established an order in families. Jesus should be the head of every household. Husbands are called to submit to Him, wives should submit to their husbands, and children must obey their parents.

Women have been given the gift of beauty, the ability to bear children, and a powerful influence over their children’s lives. Yet, women are called to submit to husbands. This does not mean wives should become robotically compliant to their husbands. It means they should yield to their husbands.

Husbands should never misuse their authority to control or abuse women. Rather, they should delegate authority to other people in the household. They should seek the opinions of household members before making decisions. In this way, they become a good Christian husband and father.

Christian wives will become unhappy if they must assume a leadership position because a husband is refusing to lead. When both husband and wife struggle for power, households are too argumentative. Christians who feel their household is out of balance should seek their God-given assigned identity in Christ by meditating on Scripture and praying for ways to conform to God’s design for families.

Christians should have an attitude of submission towards God. Our earthly authority provides a great training ground to learn how to submit. When we submit to authority, we humbly obey God as we should. Whether it is the federal government or our boss or a husband, we respect God’s plan for order when we yield to their authority.

But what about when the authority figure or law goes against God’s Word? What then? God is the highest authority in the Christian’s life. Christians should always obey God even when authorities in your life command you to go against what God or His Word is telling you to do.

In the book of Daniel, we read about Daniel’s character. He was faithful to God and submitted to authority. He worked hard and behaved righteously. His qualities earned him a promotion. The jealous officials inspired a decree which forbid Daniel to pray to God. Yet Daniel ignored the decree that lead him away from God and kept on praying! He feared God more than man so God rescued him from the mouth of lions.

Christians must always fear God more than man. Christians should never depend on the law to tell us what is right or wrong, but we should rely on God’s Word. Believers should tell corrupt bosses they will not break the law to help their bottom line. Christian women should not quietly submit to abusive husbands but seek God’s will in their lives. Those are exceptions in which acting righteously and justly according to God’s Word is more important than submitting to authority.

In most circumstances, submission to authority is a useful tool to help us draw near to the Lord. If we love the Lord, we will submit to authority. In doing so, we are a good example and witness to others. Throughout our lives, we must remember our King in heaven is our ultimate authority. Our Father who loves us deserves our undivided loyalty.

PRAYER: Lord, Help us to draw near to You by submitting to authority. Give us the courage to stand firm on the Word when authority leads us astray. Thank You, Lord, that You hear our prayers. In Christ’s Name, Amen.

© 2015 Kim Bond

Draw Near exists to glorify God and help others draw near to Christ by providing free resources. Click here to learn more about God and here to access free Christian ebooks. Thanks for visiting. Stay blessed!