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Sunday, September 28, 2014

Week Fifty: Lori Soard

To Know Even One Breathed Easier

“To laugh often and love much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to give of one’s self; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; to have played and laughed with enthusiasm and sung with exultation; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived... this is to have succeeded”.
                             —Attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson

I first came across this quote at twelve-years-old. Something about the simplicity of only having to make a difference in one single life spoke to me. If a simple, everyday act of helping someone
 breathe a bit easier makes such a difference, then how much more can we accomplish as writers, parents, artists, employees, wives, husbands, sons, daughters, and neighbors?

Shortly after discovering Emerson’s keys to success, I wrote a poem about my great-Aunt Eula’s home in a holler in the mountains of West Virginia. Aunt Eula was my mother’s favorite aunt. Walking into her simple home, which lacked running water and a television, was like stepping back in time. She wasn’t loved for her delicious apple pies, or her homemade biscuits; it was the warmth in her eyes that drew you in and made you feel as though she’d been waiting right there for you specifically to come visit her. She and the rest of my family loved the poem. It brought tears to my mother’s eyes and I realized that I had brought back fond memories from her childhood. Although I’d always written, it was around that time the light bulb, which sometimes turns on over my head, clicked on and I realized I could touch others through my writing. If I could bring back a good memory, or offer comfort to someone who was grieving, then I’d made a difference. I didn’t have to be a best-selling author; I just had to make ONE life breathe easier. That was it, just one, and I would have succeeded.

It is so easy to get caught up in the New York Shuffle. You want an agent, so you can sell to New York publishers, so you can one day be a big star. It’s very easy to lose sight of the reason you began writing in the first place. For me, it helps to carry Emerson’s poem in my wallet. I also have it framed on my desk. When I feel discouraged or wonder why I spend four hours a day writing, when I could go out and get another job paying much more, I simply read back through the poem and remember why I began writing in the first place. And, if I can change one life, make one person breathe easier, raise my children to be happy and healthy, find my true friends, or even just create a nice little garden patch, then I have accomplished my goal.

Lori Soard has been writing professionally for about eighteen years. She lives in Kentuckiana with her family, a miniature dachshund and a tortie rescue shelter cat. She writes articles, designs websites and publishes novels. Her books are available on You can visit her website at

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Week Forty-Nine: Cecil Murphey

Three Writing Prayers

“Remind me that everything I am and everything I have come as gifts from you”–Cecil Murphey

I had signed a contract to ghostwrite a book, completed the interviews, and read all the background information. Then came the time to hibernate with my computer. The first six chapters flowed with energy. After that, the quality of the writing diminished. By the tenth chapter, I wondered why I had agreed to write such a book. By chapter fifteen, I was positive the publishing house would demand I repay the advance.

It wasn’t my first book—in fact, I had published more than fifty books—but this one was different. Doubts brought struggles I hadn’t felt before. What made me think I could write anyway? For nearly a month, each day I fought the temptation to stop; however, I stayed at the task and completed the manuscript because I had signed a contract. I went over the pages several times. It wasn’t good, but I didn’t know how to make it better. Finally, I said, “God, this is the best I can do at this stage of my development.” The writing could become better, but I didn’t know how to make it better then.

That simple statement freed me. The publisher didn’t ask for the return of the advance and liked what I wrote. That was in 1990, and the book was Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story. It still remains in print with about two million copies sold. I’m sure I could write it better today, but it was the best I could do then.

That was the first of three prayers I repeat each time I work on a new project.

A second prayer dates to the year 2000. I wrote a book; my agent loved it; at least a dozen editors said they’d like to publish it, but none of them made an offer. The subject matter wasn’t something they wanted to handle. I grieved over that book because I had put so much of my heart into writing it. One day, I heard myself praying, “God, I am passionately involved in the process but emotionally detached from the result.”

I must have repeated that sentence ten times, but I was able to let the manuscript go. The book still has not been published, but I know I wrote it passionately, and that day I emotionally detached from the result.

My third prayer came about after an editor called me a gifted writer. His words shocked me. And yet, even editors who turn down my manuscripts frequently comment on how well written they are. One day I realized that God gave me the ability to write well. Until then, I considered my writing as something I could do, worked hard at the craft, and loved the process. That’s when I asked, “God, is this a gift?”

In retrospect, it seems like a silly question. The facts that (a) I love to write, (b) I have published a hundred books, and (c) I still love learning how to improve indicate that God gave me this talent. Here is the prayer I repeat regularly: “Remind me that everything I am and everything I have come as gifts from you. That statement may not be profound, but it is true and it expresses how I feel about my writing."


Veteran author Cecil (Cec) Murphey has written or cowritten more than 135 books, including the New York Times bestseller 90 Minutes in Heaven (with Don Piper) and Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story (with Dr. Ben Carson). His books have sold in the millions and have brought hope and encouragement to countless people around the world. For more information, visit

Sunday, September 14, 2014