The winter issue of B.C. BookWorld lists 25 B.C. couples who both write books. No, Gary and April Yamasaki aren’t listed there with historians Roderick and Jean Barman or poets Patricia and Terence Young. We’re just too far outside the literary scene, but between the two of us, we’ve had 10 books published (April’s books, Gary’s books), with my writing on-line here and Gary over at perspectivecriticism.com. Here’s a glimpse of our writing lives with questions I’d be curious to ask the literary couples in B.C. BookWorld.
How did you publish your first book?
April: I sent a proposal to a publisher who expressed interest in seeing my completed manuscript. But when I finished writing Where Two Are Gathered: Readings for Shared Devotion, the publisher turned it down, and I sent it out 8 more times before it was accepted for publication by Brethren Press/faithQuest.
Gary: A colleague who teaches at a nearby university sent my dissertation to an editor at Sheffield Academic Press (which has since merged as part of T & T Clark, an imprint of Continuum International Publishing Group). At that time, Sheffield often published dissertations, and they responded within a few months, asking for some revisions. My revised dissertation was published the following year: John the Baptist in Life and Death: Audience-Oriented Criticism of Matthew’s Narrative.
What is your current writing project?
Gary: Insights from Movie Making for Analyzing Biblical Narrative will be one volume of an upcoming series by Fortress Press entitled Reading the Bible in the 21st Century. My deadline is the end of the year, and I hope to finish a first draft by the end of summer.
April: I’m doing final revisions on Spark: Igniting Your God Given Creativity. It’s a series of twelve Bible studies to be published this year by Mennonite Women USA and Mennonite Women Canada, but written for a wider audience of women exploring faith and creativity.
When do you write?
Gary: I’m tempted to say all the time since I’m running the current material through my mind all the time. But I’ve tried to establish a weekly rhythm of teaching prep and marking on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, with Friday and Saturday devoted to the book project. Monday is a swing day for working on one or the other, or both, or taking time off.
April: Morning, afternoon, evening – really any time is a good time to write. I sometimes write after midnight or before 6am, although usually not in the same night! In an earlier post, I address “How do you find time to write?”
Where do you write?
April: Anywhere, but most often at home, either at my desk beside the kitchen or the computer desk downstairs, lying in bed or sitting on the couch – I’m starting to experiment with a makeshift standing desk.
Gary: Always in the same place…an office set up in the basement where I have minimal distractions.
What’s a successful writing day for you?
Gary: 1000 words a day.
April: It depends on the day and my priorities at the time, so success might be completing a blog post, or confirming details for a retreat I’m leading, or working on a certain section of a longer project. I mainly think in terms of writing tasks or projects, and seldom have a set number of words or hours in mind.
What advice do you have for someone who wants to publish a book in your field?
April: Persevere, be patient, learn all you can about publishing, explore both traditional and hybrid publishing.
Gary: Basic training in biblical interpretation is a foundation, but it would be difficult to get published by relying on just those basics. Build on that foundation by digging into newer interpretive approaches that are outside the mainstream.
What have you learned about writing from one another?
April: Gary is an incredibly disciplined writer with academic precision, and that inspires me to sharpen my own thinking and writing practice.
Gary: April shared something a long time ago that has really stuck with me: “There’s no good writing, only good re-writing.”
That quote from Justice Louis Brandeis makes a fitting conclusion. Thanks, Gary, for joining me today!
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