Rick Hamlin is the executive editor of Guideposts where he was worked for over 25 years. His memoir, Finding God on the A Train (Harper) was a Book of the Month Club alternate selection. He has also published three novels, most recently Reading Between the Lines (Howard). His book on prayer, Ten Prayers You Can’t Live Without (Guideposts) was published in the spring of 2013. He was been a contributor to Daily Guideposts since 1985 and blogs about prayer twice at week at Guideposts.org. He and his wife, Carol, live in New York City and both sing in their church choir. They are the parents of two boys.
I’m honored to interview Rick Hamlin, the Executive Editor for Guideposts magazine. He’s one of the kindest people I’ve ever met—and he’s also my editor.
You are too kind, Julie.
Rick, what thrills you about reading a story submission? Please give us the secret.
The basics first: name, address, phone numbers, email right there on top. You’d be surprised how many people forget that. And then I’m looking for a story that surprises me, that offers the unexpected.
What is the wow factor you’re looking for in first person inspirational writing?
Passion. And someone who “shows” rather than “tells.”
Do you admire a writer who continues to rewrite and resubmit the same story or does it irritate you?
If you come back to me with another attempt at the same story, that’s cool. You’re telling me this is important. Heck, I might have missed something the first time around, and you might have missed something. But after a couple of passes no is no.
You’re an incredible listener, which is evident in your new book, 10 Prayers You Can’t Live Without. I have underlined my way through it. My favorite two sentences are, “Oh, to be heard. Oh, to be understood.” You possess the uncanny ability to listen on a deeper level. Is this part of being a good editor—to hear what a writer is afraid to write?
Hey we get so few chances in life. If I can really hear someone I feel like I’m doing a godly thing. But geez, I blow it all the time. I’m just as easily distracted as the next person. The gift an editor can bring is to hear something or see something you didn’t know was there. My editors, bless them, do that for me.
Being a writer is like being a person of faith – they both involve doubt. I doubt myself all the time when I write, but then I forge on ahead, like I try to do in my faith. You finally have to heed that inner voice, whether you call it your muse or the Holy Spirit. Not that it will take you to perfection but it will keep you honest. “Doubt is the ants in the pants of faith” said Frederick Buechner. That’s true of writing, too.
Tell us about your novels. I fell in love with Reading Between the Lines.
That book started with a shelf of my wife’s favorite novels, some of which she’s re-read almost a dozen times. I started to imagine a wife who wanted to communicate with her dense husband (we can be clueless at times) by scrawling messages in between the lines of the novels, knowing that if he loved her, as he does, he would eventually find them because they were a key to her soul.
Which is most difficult for you—writing fiction or nonfiction?
If I go by my publishing record, fiction wins hands down. For every published novel there’s at least one unpublished one in a drawer. They might have been fun to write, but they didn’t work. And yet, I always tell myself, “Nothing’s wasted. What you learned here is going to help you somewhere else.” Hope is the fuel for all writers. Isn’t your next book going to be your best yet? Mine is. Oh, if I could just tell you all about it…but that’s another rule of mine. I don’t talk about a book until I’ve finished a first draft. The talk should be on the page, not in someone else’s ear.
Thank you, Rick. It’s been an honor. Blessings on your writing and editing.
Be sure to check out all Rick’s writings—both fiction and nonfiction!
Reading Between the Lines (novel on Amazon) http://www.amazon.com/Reading-Between-Lines-Rick-Hamlin/dp/1582295786
Video 10 Prayers You Can’t Live Without Video from Guideposts website http://www.guideposts.org/video/how-to-pray-effectively/10-prayers-you-cant-live-without
10 Prayers You Can’t Live Without (Amazon) http://www.amazon.com/Prayers-You-Cant-Live-Without/dp/0824932188
Julie Garmon’s been a regular contributor to Daily Guideposts since 2003 and won a coveted spot to the Guideposts’ writers contest in 2004. She’s published with Guideposts, Sweet 16, PLUS, Angels on Earth, Homelife, Today’s Christian, Today’s Christian Woman, www.sober24.com, www.crosswalk.com, and www.urbanministries.com.