Thank God I am a journalist

d3_315 Lekan writingNigerian journalist Lekan Otufodunrin is online and special publications editor at The Nation Newspapers. As president of Journalists for Christ International Outreach, he wrote this devotion to encourage other writers. Lekan is also a Trustee of the newly-formed MAI-Africa.

At an interactive session with a group of students recently, Nobel laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka revealed that one of his career dreams was to be a journalist. He actually sat for a test to be employed as a reporter at the defunct Daily Times Newspapers but was not hired because, according to him, he was told he wrote a short story instead of a news story.

On reflection about his failed attempt, Soyinka is glad he ended up a literary writer and not a journalist. “Thank goodness I did not become journalist” he told the students.

I want to believe that Soyinka comment is not meant to disparage journalism as a profession. I will rather align myself with those who think he probably believes that he would not have been able to accomplish his global literary status if he had been a journalist.

If God’s purpose for Soyinka is to be a literary writer and not a journalist, so be it.
God indeed has a purpose for all of us. The scripture says before we were formed in our mother’s womb, He knew us.

However, I know many journalists who are not happy that they found themselves in journalism. They wish they were practicing some other perceived more rewarding profession.

But for me, I thank God I am a journalist. I have no doubt that I am fulfilling God’s purpose for my life. Instead of being ungrateful to God for making me a journalist and been envious of some other professionals, I have learnt to discover God’s purpose for me in journalism and make my calling and election sure.

I know that my goal in life should be that I be what God wants me to be and not what I want. I am too sure that He that called me to be a journalist [and] is faithful. I know that He will provide all my needs according to His riches in glory.

I know that the God I serve is no respecter of professions. What He makes possible for the Doctors, Lawyers, Bankers and other professionals, He will make happen for me too as long as I abound in the place of my calling.

My desire is not to be accomplished for personal reasons in the eyes of the world by opting for any profession other than that which God has ordained for me.

On the Day of Judgment, I want to stand before God and be told, “Thou good and faithful journalist, enter into your rest.”

Share your comments with us and Lekan here.

Invisible Handwriting: What editors need

By Julie Ackerman Link

The role of an editor is to correct an author’s writing, which introduces the potential for conflict. Editors must convey to authors that the manuscript they worked so hard to write still has areas of imperfection. They must then show authors how to fix the flaws. Some authors are eager to receive help; others are not.

So when you are prompted to pray for editors, here are five things that editors need every day:2-editors-discussing-manusc 3

Wisdom. No two authors are alike, so editors need wisdom to know the best way to work with different personality types. Being a good editor requires more than editorial skills and language expertise; it requires an understanding of people. Pray that editors will have the wisdom necessary to convince authors that the changes they suggest are made with their best interest in mind.

Discernment. Not every editorial change is worth fighting for. Pray that editors will know when to insist on an editorial change, when to negotiate, and when to go with the author’s preference.

Humility. Editors work behind the scenes. Readers never know how much work editors do to make authors look good. In fact, editors seldom get credit for all the improvements they make, but they likely will be blamed if they allow a mistake to slip through. Editors need grace and humility to accept this reality and remain free of resentment.

Patience. Knowing what’s right can lead to impatience if the editor has trouble convincing the author. Pray that editors will be patient with authors and not lose sight of the fact that their task is to create good, God-honoring books for readers, not win arguments with authors.

Respect. Most editors are trained professionals, yet in some settings they are treated disrespectfully because their experience and degrees are considered less prestigious. Pray that editors will be treated with the respect they deserve.

Behind every good book is an invisible editor who works without recognition but who needs your prayer and encouragement.

Julie Ackerman Link is a co-founder of Blue Water Ink, a book-packaging company that provides writing, editing, designing, typesetting and consulting services for publishers and authors.  Julie also serves on the Board of Directors for MAI.

Photo above courtesy of Michael Collie, SPCKA

Write from the Heart

Are you writing a book that exposes your soul?  Different writing techniques are required when writing a book from the heart.  These books are not designed simply to present facts or information.  Award-winning author Robin Jones Gunn cites a few tips to keep in mind.

1)       Pull stories from your own heart. The story that comes from the heart touches the heart.  God gave us His story in one book, the Bible, and He gave that story from the heart  (“For God so loved the world . . .”).  We, too, want to convey the story of the Gospel by giving more than facts, theology or doctrine.

2)      Draw from your own experiences.

3)      Be vulnerable.  It stays with the reader for a longer time. A story comes alive when it comes from the heart.  When an author writes in this way, she is participating in something even greater than what she can understand.

What writing has pulled at your heart recently? Tell us.

This LittWorld 2012 video was shot and produced by Good News Productions in Nairobi, Kenya, for MAI .

Are you stuck?

Where do new ideas come from? Michael Collie of SPCK Australia challenges you to “think outside the box” with these creative tips.

The brain was designed to think habitually.  If we want to think creatively we need to circumvent this.  Three ways to avoid habitual thinking include:

1)       Introduce a random idea. Example:  When designing a book cover about worship, introduce an unrelated item such as a curtain pulley.  Connect the object to the theme.

2)      Reduce material to essential content. Example:  When choosing a cover for a book about letter writing, simplify the theme to “expressing intimacy.”  Visualize something that introduces loneliness.

3)      Invert the idea to create something new. Example:  When writing a comic book about Joseph use a female protagonist, Josephine, instead of a male protagonist.

What other ideas do you have for getting “un-stuck”?

This LittWorld 2012 video was shot and produced by Good News Productions in Nairobi, Kenya, for MAI .

Is your workplace too serious or boring?

“All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy,” so the saying goes. Our director of publisher training, Ramon Rocha III, shares pointers for building a successful publishing team that has fun while achieving results.

How do you build a publishing team that achieves results while having fun? It starts with you.

You set the tone in every nook and corner of the office. Are you wearing a frown? Your staff will too. Are you a fun person to be with? Are you real or wearing masks, fun, caring or humble? These qualities will make your staff feel at ease with you.

Ensure your team is on the same page. Do you share the same goals, mission and vision statement? Are you building a corporate culture that sets the tone of who you are? Your culture reflects your values.

What values do you hold dear as a company? Agree as a staff and commit to your core values.

Ensure everyone has ownership of goals and targets, rather than just imposing the objectives from above.

What do you do for fun as a staff? Activities can unite everyone and keep them at ease. Have a picnic or a retreat at a beach or mountainside. Some companies have executives serve breakfast to staff. Think about pursuits that will energize the staff and make them smile.

You don’t have to be serious all the time to achieve results at work. Don’t just sing “O Holy Night;” sometimes you can sing “Joy to the World”! Achieve the results and have fun!

Please share your ideas for creating a fun atmosphere with us here.

This LittWorld 2012 video was shot and produced by Good News Productions in Nairobi, Kenya.