Quote It! Chuck Colson

Chuck Colson, of Watergate fame, has formed an evangelical ministry, and the current class of "Centurions" graduates this weekend in Leesburg, Virginia.“At the root of what makes us good, just, and decent, is a recognition that we owe a debt to those who have gone before us.”

–Chuck Colson, Watergate figure who emerged from the country’s worst political scandal a vocal Christian leader and a champion for prison ministry, spent the last years of his life in the dual role of leading Prison Fellowship, the world’s largest outreach to prisoners, ex-prisoners and their families, and the Colson Center, a teaching and training center focused on Christian worldview thought and application. Colson died in April of 2012.


Last night, our small group finished the study Doing The Right Thing. This quote from Colson was one of the last statements made in the video.

I can’t get it out of my mind.

The statement is truth for each of us, but for the Christian the debt both deepens and enriches. In a Kingdom economy, the debt we owe is one of love:

8 Don’t owe anyone anything, with the exception of love to one another—that is a debt which never ends—because the person who loves others has fulfilled the law.

(Romans 13:8, The Voice)

Kim Peterson, Writing Instructor

Kim Peterson

But what does it mean to me as a writer? Certainly I owe a debt to my parents and siblings who nurtured me–and to my wife who never fails to believe–but also to my writing teachers from first grade (Mrs. Oyer at Hawthorne Elementary) through college (Kim Peterson at Bethel College).

But many others have invested in me as a writer and editor–including many of you who are reading this now. To each I owe my thanks, but also my commitment to use what you willingly gave from your storehouse. There is one other thing: I owe to those who come after me, my own willingness to share, encourage, and educate.

Together we make a chain–and we make each other “good, just, and decent.”

Colson’s quote was one of the last things the video lesson shared. The last thing was this:

“Gratitude is the mother of all virtues.” — G.K. Chesterton


Michael Ehret, for Writing on the Fine Line

Mike-9Michael loves to play with words and as editor of the ACFW Journal, he is enjoying his playground. He also plays with words as a freelance editor here at WritingOnTheFineLine.com, where he often takes a writer Into The Edit, pulling back the veil on the editing process. He has edited several nonfiction books, played with words as a corporate communicator, and reported for The Indianapolis Star.


Goals Can Get You There

Alice in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll, is one of my favorite books.

An exchange between Alice and the Cheshire Cat perfectly illustrates the importance of goal setting. Alice asks:

“Would you tell me please, which way I ought to go from here?”

smiling_catThe cat replies, “That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.”

“I don’t much care where—”

“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go.”

“—so long as I get somewhere.”

Here at Writing On The Fine Line, we recognize the value of goal-setting. We’re here to help you get to where you want to go as a writer. Whether you want to polish your manuscript for a contest or to snag an editor’s or agent’s attention—or all of the above—the editorial services offered here can help you take that important next step.

But I’m not just an editor—I also write. I have goals for my writing and my editing in 2013:

  1. Revise my current manuscript and research the next.
  2. Start writing my new manuscript.
  3. Read The Art of War for Writers and one other craft book.
  4. Deepen my relationships with God, family, friends.
  5. Increase the traffic here at WritingOnTheFineLine.com.

What are your resolutions—goals, if you prefer—for the coming year? Share them here or join the conversation today at my post on Novel Rocket.

Michael Ehret, for Writing on the Fine Line

Michael Ehret loves to play with words and as editor of the ACFW Journal, he is enjoying his playground. He also plays with words as a freelance editor right here at WritingOnTheFineLine.com, where he often takes a writer Into The Edit, pulling back the veil on the editing process. He has edited several nonfiction books, played with words as a corporate communicator, and reported for The Indianapolis Star.

Feeling Like Stretch Armstrong

The Web is full of admonitions to stretch before working out or engaging in any kind of exercise. Why? The plusses are many:

  • Stretching helps prevent injuries.
  • It keeps your muscles in good working order.
  • Tight muscles are less capable.
  • It just makes you feel good.

Plus, if you stretch first you’re less likely to have to listen to your wife laugh (under her breath, of course) while you’re on the chiropractor’s table.

And who hasn’t enjoyed a good shoulder stretch after hours of hammering away at the keyboard?

Writing stretches

Lately, I’ve been doing some serious stretching in my writing/editing life. For just over a year, I’ve served as the editor for a new print magazine for American Christian Fiction Writers, the ACFW Journal.

We have a great team pulling this together (and we’re having a great time, too), but I am being stretched, particularly in the areas of organization and time management. As we enter our second year, even more stretching will be required.

Which, since I’ve also launched a freelance editing business (right here at WritingOnTheFineLine.com) and have just started doing some editing for one of my favorite publishing houses, is adding to my feeling like Stretch Armstrong.

I have to plan, write, and schedule three posts a week for this blog, under a set of (self-imposed) guidelines—stretching me, again, in the area of organization.

Since organization is definitely a weakness of mine (I don’t really even know how to use Excel, but I’m learning), this has all been a great experience. It will definitely lead to me learning how to better use my time.

Strength in weakness

In II Corinthians, Paul writes about how he had asked the Lord to remove his thorn in the flesh, only to have Jesus tell him, “My grace is enough to cover and sustain you. My power is made perfect in weakness.” Paul then says to his readers, “So ask me about my thorn, inquire about my weaknesses, and I will gladly go on and on–I would rather stake my claim in these and have the power of the Anointed One at home within me. I am at peace and even take pleasure in any weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and afflictions for the sake of the Anointed because when I am at my weakest, He makes me strong” (II Corinthians 12:9-10, The Voice).

What about you? In what areas are you being stretched this year? What weaknesses are you being forced to face? And how will that both benefit you and further the cause of Christ?

Michael Ehret, for Writing on the Fine Line

Are You A Productive Sheep?

“Accountability breeds response-ability.”

—Stephen R. Covey

I fear accountability. There, I’ve said it. I need it; but I avoid it.

It hasn’t always been so. Early in my time at Bethel College (Indiana), I was invited to join a group called the Writers’ Accountability Network (WAN). You can still see me and the group here.

Members of WAN began each month by sharing their goals for the next four weeks. At the end of that time, we all reported on our success—and where we didn’t quite measure up. In between, we encouraged each other.

I’ve never completed so much writing! In fact, while a member of that group I wrote the first draft of my novel.

What happened?

As I took on more responsibilities professionally—a good thing—I soon found myself over-committed—a bad thing—and left the group.

I’ve worked on the novel sporadically since then, never with the intensity and commitment of those days.

What I’ve learned is I need accountability to be productive. As Proverbs 27:17 tells us: “You use steel to sharpen steel, and one friend sharpens another” (The Message). That was the benefit WAN provided.

I needed to make changes. I needed to embrace, again, the power of being a good sheep. Here’s how I do it. Maybe it will help you.

Setting boundaries

The biblical idea of Jesus as our shepherd and us as His sheep has always resonated with me. I have sheepy tendencies. In WAN, we were all sheep within the same pen. The fences (goal-setting, accountability, encouragement, and reporting) helped us be good sheep together.

These are the fences I’ve built now to get back some of that accountability.

  • Fence 1—Television: I can’t give up it up entirely, but I can cut back by at least an hour or two a week. (Can’t give up Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy—that’s good writer TV!)
  • Fence 2—Social media: It’s time to wrestle my e-mail, Facebook, and Twitter addictions to the ground. There’s an important place for social media, but too much of any good thing can be a problem.
  • Fence 3—Mornings: While in WAN I got up early to write for an hour before reporting to my job—and it worked. I completed the first draft. I need to repair the holes in this fence.
  • Fence 4—Accountability: This is the gate to my sheep pen. I need writing partners, other sheep, who will make sure I do what I say I’m going to do—and who’ll cut me no slack when I don’t.

Speaking of accountability: Who are you accountable to? If no one, would you consider an accountability partner?

Next Tuesday: One of my favorite authors, Michael Dellosso, will step Into The Edit with me. Don’t miss it!

Michael Ehret, for Writing on the Fine Line