NH: Come on In
I have nothing against baptism by sprinkling….really I don’t. Some of my best friends have been sprinkled. I was sprinkled too. It happened when I was seven. My parents decided I should be baptized and so one Sunday our rector baptized me by sprinkling some water on my forehead and appointing my godparents to watch after my spiritual life. This was, as you might imagine, a liturgical church. And looking back from my life now in a decidedly non-liturgical church, I sometimes miss the pomp and formality I knew as a child. I often miss the beautiful words from the Book of Common Prayer (1928 edition please!). What I do not miss is the wool suit I was made to wear every Sunday, with my pajama bottoms underneath the pants to stop the infernal itching.
By college I had drifted from my second-grade faith. I was spiritually aimless. But by my junior year I had become one of those maniacal Jesus people of the 1960’s. I loaded up on Larry Norman records, devoured my newly purchased Scofield Bible, and could whip out my Four Spiritual Laws with the ease of Matt Dillon drawing his pistol at the beginning of “Gunsmoke.” And, I was baptized again. This time by full immersion. And I made sure every bit of me went solidly under. I did not want even one strand of unsaved hair on my head.
Now I’m an editor and a writer. And I constantly meet other editors and writers. And among the writers I meet—wait, let me amend that—among the published writers I meet, I find that most of them have, like me, been fully immersed, not sprinkled, in their compulsion to be a successful writer. I meet many others who I suspect have been merely sprinkled. They enjoy writing (don’t they know real writers agonize at the process?), they dabble in this or that project, and they might even attend a writer’s conference or two.
What brings this to mind are two recent events I can’t quite shake. One of the events was meeting a writer who had a great idea for a book and was going to send me a proposal. Months later, I heard that she was no longer writing, but had moved on to something else. She had been sprinkled as a writer, but not immersed. The other situation was similar. This would-be author told about the book she was writing and as I listened, I just couldn’t catch the vision for what she wanted to do. But then she mentioned one of those “back-burner” projects that she had set aside. And it was a dynamite idea. I loved it from the moment I heard about it. I told her I’d be happy to look at a proposal as soon as possible. “That?” she said. Well, it’s now almost a year later and I have yet to hear from this author. She too had been sprinkled, but not immersed.
To repeat: I have nothing against sprinkling—either as a means of baptism or even as a writer. But regarding the latter, I can’t help but notice that I personally resonate better with writers who have been fully immersed. They hunger to be published. They’d wash dishes at Hard Rock Café for a month in order to go a writer’s conference. They write when they feel like it—and they write when they don’t feel like it. They understand and accept rejection. They don’t whine about the fact that it takes more than just writing talent to get published these days. They devour writing books like a new convert devours the Gospel of John. And they daily read the blogs of several writers whom they admire. They are immersed as writers….and they have a distinct edge when it comes to getting published.
So my word to aspiring writers is get immersed.
Come on in the water’s fine.
Nick Harrison edits fiction for Harvest House Publishers.