All through the past month, as I have been building up my picture of the ideal book, I have been realizing more and more what a place I have put myself in. For it occurred to me – occurred after I had the excellent idea to define the perfect novel – that I am an author myself. It may be that my readership has connected two thoughts in a way I did not quite intend. When I described the ideal book, I did not mean that I, or that anyone else I know of, has actually written it.
I have indeed seen portrayed all of the characteristics which I described as belonging to this privileged novel, but I must honestly confess that I have not yet seen them within the covers of a single volume. In the general course of things, every author excels at one or two aspects more than others. The author who writes the perfect plot usually does it at the expense of character. The book with ideal dialogue may suffer in its descriptions. And sadly, some of the most brilliant talent of each generation has lacked the Christ-centred worldview which is so necessary to the really best books.
But this is not going to discourage me from keeping my ideal novel. Every time I open a fresh, promising book, I am going to allow myself the hope that the ideal does exist. It may not be the volume in my hand – but then again, it may! And consider all the really delightful books I have read along the way. If I never find the ideal book, at least I have found many which were good and great as a result of my search. It will have been a fruitful enterprise, even if I never reach my ideal goal.
And then, to return to the question I began with. Do I have the faintest, most improbable chance of attaining to this high mark in my own writing? Self-conviction cries out against the possibility of you, the reader, clicking on the FREE BOOK link imagining that you will find there the ideal book.
I honestly know that this standard is too high to be reached quickly or easily. If it is to be gained at all, it must have hours and months and years of experience, of patient practice, of faithful diligence in the progress, professional and spiritual, which alone can take any author to such a goal. And even with all the dedication which I can give, it seems ridiculous presumption to imagine oneself capable of reaching such an end. And yet a little spark, the hope which has given every author the desire to put forth their very best, will not be quenched.
Will I ever write the ideal book? It is not a question which I can answer. But every time I sit at my desk with a blank white page before me, and draw one long breath before I type the first word – in that instant, and through all the sentences and pages and chapters which follow – with God’s blessing, I humbly mean to try.
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