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Product Categories Archive: by Rossiter
Why do you write?
Brian: The simplest and most honest answer to this question is that I write because I have to write. It is in my nature to constantly work through ideas—whether that be of the philosophical, theological, biblical, etc., nature—and to communicate those ideas openly. If I keep my thoughts to myself, then of what use can I be to others? On the other hand, I do write for very personal reasons. If not for the ability to put my thoughts onto paper, I would feel an utter sense of internal claustrophobia: a conscious gnawing that cannot otherwise be alleviated. Writing is the ultimate outlet for the beliefs I cherish and all things that work to shape my worldview.
Wayne: In truth, I’ve never been much of a fiction guy. I most write to convey or discuss ideas, concepts and information. I write because I have things I want to share with the world, and I want to bring them to the table of ideas, and discuss. My hope is that others find my ideas useful.
How would you describe your writing method?
Brian: First, I would say that I am not typically a “brainstormer” (though perhaps I ought to be). When I approach a topic, I tend to start right in on it, tunneling away at the most critical aspects of the topic. After I have finished with the essentials, I will then begin to go back and build layers of depth and detail. I would think of this as adding musculature and tissue to the skeleton. Being that I operate this way, it is not at all uncommon for me to copy/paste large portions of the text into different locations as I go. Essentially, I am not overly teleological in my writing; often, some the main purposes are only visible after the product has been completed. At times, this creates havoc in my writing, requiring me to do more editing than I would prefer. But the freedom this approach allows me typically results in a much more satisfying finished product.
Wayne: It’s very organic. I am constantly scribbling thoughts or ideas on notebook, in my truck, at my desk, one a hike, etc. As those ideas take form, I then begin to build around them, organizing them into some logical or cohesive arrangement, and placing them in the context of other related ideas (which usually come from what others have to say about a topic). It took me roughly three years of thinking to produce my first book. Yet, it took me only eight days to write the first draft. It was really just a waiting game until I had a complete story to tell. Because I have co-authored my second book, much of its production was really just putting to paper the things that we were constantly talking about. Typically, I’m unhappy with my first draft. I take some time away from it, and then read it with fresh eyes. This typically leads to drastic overhauls in the architecture of my manuscripts.
How would you respond to the classic question, “Is there Christian art, or artists who are Christians?”
Brian: I get the sense that this question may set up a false dichotomy: a “one or the other” proposition that need not be so. On the other hand, it may simply be a distinction without a difference. To the Christian, all pursuits that are pure, true, and worthy of our time would be part of God’s work and God’s kingdom. Art is no different. That being said, it seems quite natural to say that both propositions are true. There is such a thing as Christian art as a category (art that is pure, true, and worthy God’s kingdom), and there are artists who are Christians (the ones doing such work).
Wayne: I think the answer is yes in both cases. Clearly, there are artists who are Christian. The question is whether or not the art itself is somehow made Christian by the artist. I am reminded of a powerful lesson I learned from David Smith (of Calvin College). He put chalk to the board, and said, “There’s no Christian way to hold chalk . . . is there?” His point was that it is not the words written during, say, a lesson on German grammar that makes us Christian. It is the purposes, goals and reasons behind our efforts that make them Christian.
Do you have any words of wisdom for aspiring authors?
Brian: With Mind Over Matter being my first published work (though I have others prepared for publishing), I’m perhaps not fully equipped to provide others with many deeply profound insights into the process. There are certainly a couple of suggestions I can offer though. The first is that simply getting a book published should never be an author’s goal. There are a variety of ways to publish a book, and simply having a manuscript go into print will ultimately be unsatisfying. The purpose of a book is to get it in print, get it pressed, get it into the hands of other people, and make a difference in people’s lives. Getting a book printed is not a huge accomplishment in this day and age: making it a useful tool in God’s Kingdom is. Second, I would tell others not to become deflated if they are unable to quickly find a publisher or if they do not see the type of success they would want right out of the gate. Becoming successful is a building process, so don’t get discouraged. Rather, do as much networking as you can and exhaust all of your resources in order to get your book/s in the hands of those who may be able to help you.
Wayne: You can’t force creativity, but you can nurture it. It takes practice, and some are much better at thinking outside of the box than others. But, these days, being a unique thinker counts for a lot. You have to practice your craft, learn from mistakes, and learn from others who are masters at it. Believe that what you have to say is worthwhile, and then be persistent. As a scientist, the fact is, nine out of every ten experiments (or ideas) fail. But, you often learn more from failure than success. The power of a single success can far outweigh an army of failures.
Which of your creations has brought you the most joy?
Brian: To this point, I would say that Mind Over Matter has brought me the most joy. There are two main reasons for this. The first is that the book is a finished product. It is in its completed form, and it’s available for purchase and distribution. The second reason is a more personal one. Mind Over Matter is the product of two heads rather than one. My brother, Wayne Rossiter, and I created this book together. In a sense, the book is also a testament to the close friendship we share. For that reason alone the book is very special to me.
Wayne: Well, in so much as I played a part in the “creation” of my two kids, that’s the greatest and most wonderful thing I’ve ever been a part of. Hands down. While I am a scientist by training, and now an author on the side, I have to say that playing and creating music brings me the most joy. When I sit down at a drum kit and work through a playlist of jazz fusion tunes, I just go into the zone. I don’t think, I just act and really let myself go into cruise control. That feeling of being “in the pocket” is like no other.
Which has brought you the most heartache?
Brian: The creation I have spent by far the most time on (called The Death Myth) is the creation that has also brought me the most heartache. The Death Myth is my most cherished document in terms of the number of hours I have spent producing it, and I feel that its topic (the appropriate way for Christians to view the afterlife) is as important as any out there. The heartache comes from the uncertainty of knowing what the future holds for the document. Will it get published? Will anyone care if/when it does? Though I have spent more time studying the subjects involved within the Death Myth than anything else, I cannot help but wonder how many will share my enthusiasm for the issue. Perhaps there will be many. Perhaps there will be very few.
Wayne: I think any time you invest in something and it doesn’t take off, or isn’t accepted by your peers, that hurts. I’ve had my share of those experiences, and none hurt any less than the others.
Is there anything you’d like to say?
Brian: Being a Christian author is a tremendous blessing, and also a tremendous responsibility. It is our duty to check our egos at the door, making sure that our efforts to write come from a genuine desire to serve God and to serve others. Every effort made for self-exaltation will ultimately fail, if not during this age then certainly in the age to come.
Wayne: I thank Athanatos for giving me the opportunity to publish with them, and I hope that Mind Over Matter does great work for the kingdom. But remember in all of this, we are all already blessed, and people make the difference in this world, not books.