By Grace D. Chong, the Philippines
For over 20 years, I worked in a company that arranged words in garden-fresh, creative ways to sell products—I was a creative director. Every day I’d work with creative writers, art directors, and producers to develop commercials for products and services from A to Z, literally. A for airline, B for bank, C for clothing, D for detergent bars to MSG, pizza, soaps, to a zoo. It was an endless wordsmithing—re-arranging words, words, words.
Words were my staple for breakfast, lunch, supper, and meriendas (snacks) too. I breathed words every hour of my life. And I counted every one of those words. To sell a brand, we had to distill a lifetime worth of research on consumer insight into a 30-second commercial—which is no more than 40 words.
But one day, I, a wordsmith of the world, by divine intervention, suddenly had an epiphany moment. I turned the corner and faced words of a different kind—The WORD. I left writing words for a living; from that day forward, I started writing about how grace found me. My view of ordinary and mundane things, as though by magic, has turned extraordinary and surprising.
When you decided to be a writer, you transformed into WORD PEOPLE as well. We may have come from different wombs, different eras, and different experiences, but we are all now WORD people—you and I. Our one goal is to produce and market that one special commodity, or in Marketing, “product.” And that product is The WORD.
This product was launched on CHRISTMAS. It was on this symbolic day that the world witnessed an astonishing self-humbling: God almighty made Himself in the likeness of man. The greatest act of grace.
Jesus Christ became flesh in a manger. Through this human birthing, God revealed this truth: only through Jesus can man go on living in a glorious eternal home. No WORD PERSON of this world can ever fathom or write enough about this astounding act of grace delivered on Christmas day.
Grace remains the greatest mystery of all time. In fact, His birth was not explained. The angel simply said, ” . . . Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.” (Luke 2:10 KJV)
But Scripture, THE WORD, gives us wonderful clues—clues like believing in our Savior, born on Christmas, also births a new spirit in us. “But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name . . .” John 1:12 (KJV)
Like in a manufacturing firm, we wordsmiths develop this product by using our individual voices for various demographics: preschool kids, grade school children, Gen Z’s, millennials, working people, middle managers, Baby Boomers, church workers and retired seniors.
But Ernest Hemingway said this of writers, “We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.” If I may add, since Christian writers have a master goal, we must try to be masters of our craft—because we write about the Master of all.
How? I read up on tips from various published authors on how to be a better writer, and I am surprised that I share with them these seven attitudes:
Be simple. Einstein said, “If you can’t explain it to a six-year-old, you don’t understand it yourself.” The Bible is for all ages to understand.
Be clear. The difference between a writer and someone who writes is that a writer enlightens the reader, while someone who writes confuses the reader.
Be excited. Nothing should bore nor stump you when arranging words.
Be perceptive. More than having a rich vocabulary, word people must know the nuances of meaning that distinguish, say, “scriptural” and “Biblical.” Or the difference between a relevant idiom and an empty cliché.
Be open. Let’s handle criticism professionally. Editors always criticize draft copy. If the editors feel they must walk on eggshells when dealing with writers about edits, productivity suffers mightily.
Be precise. The devil is in the details of grammar, punctuation and syntax. From a careless writer, readers see a careless author. We must not let editors do all the clean-up work for us.
Be your own editor. There is always something—a word, a phrase—that could have been said better after the book has been published.
And this is what makes Christian publishers unique, different from different from all publishers. Our raw materials for the only product we produce and sell, come from only one Supplier—the Supplier of Truth, which is The WORD, birthed on Christmas.
Grace D. Chong left advertising creative work in the year 2000 to write full-time. As of 2015, she had 50 published books in two genres (inspirational and children’s books), and has received recognition from the Philippines’ prestigious Palanca Awards (6); Gintong Aklat Awards (2); and the National Book Awards. Educated in both the Philippines and the US, Grace and her husband have three sons, a daughter-in-law, and a grandson. Grace is a former Trustee of MAI-Asia and an MAI trainer.