An Encouraging Word – Let’s make it 15

Father J. Ronald Knott

Father J. Ronald Knott

“Writing the same things to you is no burden for me …” Philippians 3:1

“Let’s make it 15!” This is what I have been saying to myself ever since I started getting near the end of my 14th year of writing this column. Today marks the end of my 14th year of turning out these “encouraging words” for those who tell me they benefit from reading them.

“Let’s make it 15? Why?” This is the other question I have been asking myself. There are several reasons, I suppose. The main reason is that many people tell me on a weekly basis that they look forward to reading them and beg me not to stop writing them. Either what they say is true or a whole lot of people are lying to me on a regular basis.

The other reason is that writing these columns is good for me. Actually, I am afraid to quit because writing these columns gives me an occasion and a structure for intense personal reflection.

As the great Socrates supposedly said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” I am pretty consistent in examining my life and I love the fact that sharing my insights might be helpful even to people I have never met.

The third reason for writing every week is that putting my thoughts, opinions and personal history out there for people to scrutinize is a way of boosting my courage without having to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel every week. If you don’t think it takes courage to keep writing these columns, you have probably never had anything published.

Imagine several hundred invisible judges holding up score cards every week evaluating what you write. It feels good when it resonates with people and hurts when it doesn’t, but the only way to find out for sure which one is true is to stick your neck out.

I know for sure that I am not the best of writers, but I don’t care. I do not write for academic types anyway. I will never reach their audience, they will never reach mine and that is just fine with me.

I remember one academic looking over his nose at me and saying in a dismissive way, “Self-publishing is the kiss of death for an academic.”

Every month after that, I would go up to him and say, “I sold 200 more copies of my latest book this month, how many did you sell of yours?” I knew full well that he probably sold five at best — to some library somewhere. When it comes to arrogance like his, getting even is so much more delicious than getting mad.

Well, fans and foes, I never knew when I started just how long I would be doing this and now I don’t know how long I will continue. I do know that if I had a baby the year I started this column, he would be starting high school this fall.

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