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Sunday, July 15, 2012

A Basic Flaw - M. Laycock

I did a risky thing recently. I spontaneously sent an excerpt of a very old manuscript to a very well known agent and made an appointment to speak with him at a writers' conference. He liked the excerpt and asked to see the full manuscript. I was, of course, elated, but panic set in when I arrived home. You see I hadn't even looked at that manuscript in several years and when I did open it I realized it was nowhere near being ready to be sent to that agent. So I got to work, re-writing.

The process of editing a very old manuscript has been at once humbling and encouraging. Humbling because there are so many "amateurish" mistakes, and encouraging because I realize how far I've come as a writer in the past fifteen years.

One of the biggest flaws in this manuscript was one I did not realize I was so guilty of - switching points of view. I counted five different perspectives in one chapter. Oy! What was I thinking? I asked myself that question as the long process of re-writing began. I chuckled as I answered it. I wanted to play God. I wanted to be omniscient, to know all things from all angles. It's a common flaw in amateur writers and a common flaw in our human character.

The Bible tells us it was the flaw prominent in the descendants of Noah as they began to build a tower now known notoriously as Babel. They had been told to scatter across the earth and multiply, but they thought they knew a better way. They decided to build a tower that would reach to the stars and give them all knowledge - omniscience - just like God. So God had to devise a plan to make them do what he had commanded. He gave them all very different points of view by giving them different languages. The result was literally babel and confusion and eventually their plan was abandoned and yes, in the end, they scattered across the earth.

Too often we try to play God in our lives, making plans and decisions as though we knew it all, without consulting God. Our society is guilty of this flaw as our governments allow "professionals" and ordinary "educated" people to make decisions that would be best left to the One who knows the bigger picture.
As in writing, it would be best if we acknowledged that, in the end, a limited point of view makes us stronger, because it is the way God has designed life to be. We are neither capable nor wise enough to take God's place. Perhaps if we acknowledged that more often we would not only be better writers but more humble, willing servants of the One who really is in control of it all.
Marcia Lee Laycock writes from central Alberta Canada where she is a pastor's wife and mother of three adult daughters. She was the winner of The Best New Canadian Christian Author Award for her novel, One Smooth Stone and also has two devotional books in print. Her work has been endorsed by Sigmund Brouwer, Janette Oke, Phil Callaway and Mark Buchanan. Her second novel, A Tumbled Stone was just released. An ebook devotional for writers can be downloaded here. Visit Marcia's website


  1. Thanks for this, Marcia. Great insight.

  2. Thanks, very interesting. So where in central Alberta are you? Three Hills?

    1. Hi Marianne - I'm near Red Deer, 2 hr. north of Calgary.


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