Saturday, June 11, 2005

What Motivates Your Writing

When each of us sit at the keyboard or pore over a manuscript, we have a certain motivation. It might be to simply get it done for a deadline. It might be the material itself and its potential impact. Or it might be simply a job to make money. For me, it’s always been about the impact—much more than the money. Compensation is good and necessary but not my primary reason for moving my fingers on the keyboard.

I’m thinking about motivation today in light of some news I received this morning. It will resound today around the world—the passing of Dr. Kenneth N. Taylor. While the director of Moody Press, Ken and Margaret Taylor had small children at home. At one point they had five preschoolers and three in diapers. Ultimately the Taylors had ten children. As they read to their children, Ken lamented the fact there was no book that covered the entire Bible for children. When their children brought home Sunday School papers, Taylor handwrote stories to match the pictures. Encouraged with the responses, he submitted that material and ultimately Moody Press published The Bible in Pictures for Little Eyes, an all-time bestselling children’s book.

While few people remember it now, at that time, the King James Version of the Bible was the only Bible. Today we have numerous modern day versions. Ken Taylor wondered if he could paraphrase the entire Bible for adults as he had for children. Each day he commuted on the train from his home in Wheaton to the Moody Press offices in downtown Chicago and he used this travel time to modernize the Scriptures. It took him seven years to paraphrase the New Testament Epistles. He was unable to find any publisher interested in printing this material so Ken took a $2,000 loan and privately printed the book. It didn’t take off in terms of sales until Billy Graham recommended Living Letters from the pulpit. The success of this first book led to the founding of Tyndale House Publishers and the completion of a much loved book, The Living Bible.

His motivation wasn’t money—which eventually came—but to capture the Bible in a readable way for everyone. It was my privilege to interview Dr. Taylor several times for magazine articles. I was writing a round-up article on children’s Bibles and I caught up with him on the floor of the Christian Booksellers Convention. This huge trade show had rows of publishers selling books to retailers. I pressed him saying, “Dr. Taylor, don’t you feel the competition? Look at all of the different products which have come out just this year in this area.”

The gentle man shook his head and smiled, “Oh, Terry, if it’s the Bible and people are reading it to their children. That’s all that matters.” May each of us find such a pure and simple motivation for our writing.

3 Comment:

At 10:30 AM, Anonymous Anonymous Left a note...

Terry, that is such an interesting and motivational message about Ken Taylor. Thank you for letting us CWFI folks know, and for writing this special insight into his life.
Helping people want to read more of God's word is an awesome blessing and to hear his response on that is pure joy.
He lives on in those powerful pages of my weather-beaten Living Bible .( I actually dropped it in a puddle of water getting out of a car- and dried the pages.) It opened up God's word to me since I was a new believer when I discovered it.
Bless you, and thank you,

At 6:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous Left a note...

Thank you for sharing your thoughts about Dr. Taylor. I consider him the most humble man I have ever met.
For 12 years, as the owner of a small Christian bookstore, I attended the CBA convention. Early in that era someone introduced me to Dr. Taylor. Every year after that he excused himself from conversations with authors, publishers and other important people to approach unimportant me with a big smile, handshake and genuinely warm greeting. I will never forget him.
Barbara Thompson

At 12:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous Left a note...

Terry, I grew up in a period when the King James Version was "it." When a verse of Scripture pops into my head at a needy moment, it's always in King James. I do remember how The Living Bible turned Bible-reading into a joy. Suddenly, passages flowed more easily, and the message was more readable by the masses.

Dr. Taylor contributed so much to our world. What a great legacy! Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the man and his life. I still have my worn-out Living Bible, and use it and The Message often. Bonnie


Post a Comment

That's the writing life...

Back to the home page...