Home Row: Just Keep Writing

Patrick Schreiner On Writing

Episode Summary

Dr. Patrick Schreiner joins the show to talk about his ongoing writing projects, academic writing, and some really helpful writing hacks.

Episode Notes

Complete Manuscript from the show:


Jeff: All right, everybody. Welcome back to another episode of home row. And on today's show, I finally have Patrick Shriner joining us. Patrick, how are you man?

Patrick: Good. Thanks for having me. It's been awhile.

Jeff: been awhile. We were supposed to record. Oh, good grief. I dunno. Maybe it's gotta be close to two years ago.

Patrick: I think it's like 15 years ago when we were both toddlers.

Jeff: We were, we were both in middle school. How old are you? Oh, me too. 35 when's your birthday?

Patrick: August 26

Jeff: Ooh, you're older. October 23rd

Patrick: your blood type?

Jeff: I have no clue.

Patrick: Either door.

Jeff: must be our generation thing. People are like, I bet my parents and your parents, they know their blood type.

Patrick: That's right. That's right.

Jeff: Like what do I need to know that for? They just tested at the place, whatever that place is.

And they'll tell me what it is, what I need.

Patrick: So we would have been 2015 years ago. There we go.

Jeff: It's when we were 20 we were gonna do it. And where were you when you were 20. Were you at Louisville? Were you in Southern? Where were you?

Patrick: I was in Louisville at that point. I'm trying to exactly what I was doing at that point, but I guess maybe Western Kentucky university.

Jeff: Okay. All right. Nice. Where would I have been? I would have been here in Houston, still at the college of biblical studies, inner city Bible college. And it was a blast. very dispensational, which I learned while I was there. And yeah, so a lot of things have changed in my life.

A lot of things have changed in yours, but the reason we were going to record, I think it was about two years ago, we were scheduled to record  and it all fell apart cause I stopped at Starbucks. 30 minutes before we were going to record, to go pick up, you know, just to, it was probably a salted caramel mocha or who knows when those are in season.  I got to get them. And so I go and I see a guy there and he's wearing a black shirt and, and big bright neon green. It just says, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, three times. And I've seen this guy walking around my town. All the time carrying a huge backpack. I'm like, Oh, that's the Jesus shirt guy. And he's got his Bible open and I say, "Hey man,  what are you reading?"

And he's telling me what he's reading and everything. And then he starts asking me, "He says, do you have a job? "And I said, yeah, I do. He goes, "Do you make money?" I said, yeah, man, I totally, I, of course, I make money.  He goes, "You're sinning." As go, excuse me. He  says it is jobbing, like, what are you, it's jobbing.

He's like, yep, you're jobbing. And that's a sin. And he started confronting me about how I am not obeying Jesus because I have not sold everything I have and given it to the poor.

Patrick: Wow. You like to do a podcast where I don't make any money, so you know, I could do that.

Jeff: Yeah, that's true. I'm, I'm, I'm there and I couldn't believe it. And so I think this ended up being like an hour or two hour. Then his, a friend of his came in that, so these guys have decided to be homeless together. Then they're not together, but they eat, they've each decided to be homeless. They've sold other stuff, left their parents behind.

One of them has a, girlfriend that he got pregnant and have a kid. He left them all because Jesus said, if you love me, you've got to hate father, mother, brother, sister, and sell all that you have and give to the poor. And so these guys have chosen to be homeless and think they're following the true Jesus way.

So that was why we couldn't record.

Patrick: I just remember sitting on the other end. We had like, I must've gotten the wrong time.

Jeff: Well, no, that that was today. That was me today where I messaged you, said, Hey man, I'm on Skype. Oh wait, I'm an idiot. Pacific is two hours behind.

Patrick: Being in the Pacific Northwest, I've always doing math with people though, and many times I do it the opposite way. I, I've canceled many meetings that I don't have to cause I'm like, yeah, I gotta do this other call. And then I'm like, Oh, it's two hours. The other way I always forget though.

Jeff: I told my wife, I was like, Oh, I gotta do this podcast right now. Sorry, I can't. I'm like, Oh wait, nevermind. It's an hour. What do you need? I, I've, I get East and West coast confused. It's just crazy. but, and I don't even know what day it is. This is, this is the life in quarantine.

Patrick: It could be Sunday,

Jeff: Hey, it could be, yeah, it could be.

I'd be in my pajamas still watching the quote live.

Patrick: watching your

Jeff: Yeah. Watching my live

Patrick: You do, you watch your sermon.

Jeff: define, watch.

Patrick: Do you sit down with your family and the service? Yeah.

Jeff: do. Yeah. Yeah. I, I don't look at myself. I listened to myself. it's very inception to be watching. Be watching myself and I feel I got to participate. You know, my kids are watching.

Patrick: Oh, for sure.

Jeff: you know, I got them. But yeah, it's brutal. I hate watching myself preach the first week of doing that. I realize, okay, there are a lot of hand motions I don't want to do anymore.

Patrick: That's all right. That's why I don't read my writing, you know? We were going to get to that. I

Jeff: Yeah. Well, yeah. Why are we?

Why? we here? Why are we on Skype? What are we here for? Yeah, man. So here we're here to talk about writing and you have written all kinds of stuff, and you, you sent out a tweet. I mean, you've got books, you, of course, you've got journal articles and blogs and all kinds of stuff that you do.

And, but you put out a tweet the other day about how you have stayed, so productive or trying to stay productive during the pandemic, but before, but before we get into that, let's talk about how you became a writer. How did that happen?

Patrick: Yeah, I mean, my parents, I grew up and they read to me all the  time. So we were a family that loved books. I remember my dad reading Lord of the rings, the Hobbit, Greek mythology, Chronicles of Narnia. I mean, you know, all the classics for any homeschool Christian kid. we did some public school homeschool and Christian school, but so we just really liked literature.

And. So growing up reading, if you, you keep reading. And I, in college I kept doing literature, American lit, British lit, and I just really liked the side of writing that that could be, cause I'm terrible at math and you know, you just kinda gravitate that way. but I really felt like it was in college when I started taking some writing classes, I was getting encouragement that I just realize, I just really love to write, and I ended up majoring actually in journalism at Western Kentucky university. It's a, it's a great program for journalism, and so I ended up doing that just because I thought it was a little more practical. Halfway through. College, I realized I wanted to go towards ministry, but I do remember, just some like creative writing and things that I do that I really enjoyed.

So I think it started very early on just being interested in reading, and reading good books and being interested in literature. I mean, I go through classics as much as I can. That's kind of fallen off just at this point in my life, but I still try to do audible books as much as I can. And so, yeah, I think the love of reading and then that just translates many times into writing.

I find, at least in the current stage of my life, I mean in terms of even a calling, I know people use that term in different ways, but I sometimes feel like I'm wasting my time if I'm not writing. So it's like one of those things where nobody has to tell me, you sit down and write. It's, it's what I do when I get everything else done and actually work towards getting everything else done to write, if that makes sense. So it's, it's like that compulsion.

Jeff: Did you know that you were going to lean towards academic writing?

Patrick: No, not really. And you know, sometimes I want to move towards a little more popular level writing. so even, even the book on the kingdom that I did, you know, it's more for people in the pews in the church. And so I like to do a little bit of both. I, the thing that I want to say about academic writing is, you know, most people think that you, if you do academic writing, it has to be stodgy and boring and hard to read.

And I just really rail against that. I think the writers that can communicate deep things in simple ways, that's, that's really the goal. so you think of a person, obviously, like C S Lewis, I mean, Ernest Hemingway. Even as you look at some scholars out there who are writing, I mean, think about the Bible.

Johannine literature is the perfect example, right? So he can write in a very simple way, but it's very profound and deep. And so. I even got critiqued on my dissertation, on a few reviews, or at least one review. I remember reading one where he's like, well, this style just didn't really fit a dissertation.

And I, I took it as a compliment because I used analogies and maybe that comes from preaching and, and being in the church. But, I think even when I was working with in my dissertation, just to pause on that for a minute, I remember I sent it to, Greg Alison was one of my readers. I think it was in Rob Plummer. And he was like, I didn't get the theory you were using until you use the example of Rosa parks. And he was like, that's what stuck out to me. And that's the only thing I'll remember. and you know, that just kind of spoke. I mean, he's a world class scholar, great thinker, and I was just dealing with something that was pretty complex.

And. Honestly, it wouldn't click for people until I use some sort of example. So I don't even remember what your original question was, but in terms of writing, I do think I'm trying to do a little bit of both in terms of academic and for people in the church and, but I do believe at the academic level as well, you, you need to write so the people can get it and they can understand it.

And I mean, really, why right a book where a good majority of the population, even who are interested in this can barely understand it. Like, that's not going to reach many people. And it kind of seems like a fool's errand, in some sense. so, so anyways, I, I think we need a push. Helen Sword has a great book on this, stylish academic writing, which I require for my students in the THM program where she just shows like you, you don't have to write in a way that.

Is boring and dull. You can be creative. I mean, there's a difference between being creative and cute, and I always have to kind of tell my students and tell myself to find that balance. Like if you're being too colloquial, if you're being too funny in an academic type paper, yeah, you're going to get dinged on that.

But there's a way to write, I think with analogies and with illustrations and with varying your sentence length and so forth and so on, that actually makes it enjoyable to read and people get a lot more out of it. So.

Jeff: man. Absolutely. I, As I think I may have shared this on Twitter, that I, I got accepted into the PhD program at Southern for  biblical spirituality. And that was one of the things in the interview that we talked about, is that obviously I've done a lot of popular level writing and that it, you know.  How do I view the challenge of now having to come into academic writing? what do I think about that? And I said, yeah, I think it will be a challenge. when I had to do some master's leveling work, that was one of the comments I got was, this paper's great, but it's too  lay level, too popular level, too a funny, like you gotta.

Got to make it more like academic writing. And I thought, okay, this is going to be, this is going to be a, a struggle, to, you know, to grow in. But, so one guy, he just told me, Hey, you gotta do what you do for the papers and stuff, dissertations. But then when it comes to. The actual writing, after seminary, then, you know, have fun. Get after. Right. You know, like Kevin Vanhoozer, Michael Bird, he's got a, his commentary. Yeah. Like bird's got his commentary on Romans. He's talking about being a bacon, a bacon chomping Gentile. Like, you know, that's just great.

Patrick: I mean, it mentions like the Kardashians and his like systematic theology or something like, right. I mean, there is a, there is certainly a difference and you can't spend pages and pages telling a story, and doing things like that. So you ha, you have to know there's a genre, you're writing in certainly.

But I do think genres can be pushed and genres can be molded to do what we want. Like.  sometimes we think about genres like, well, it's academic, so you have to stay in this lane, like who says we have to stay? Like, where's the genre king telling us we need to stay here. so, so I think we can make the genre what we want it to be.

And, and I, I just going back to like more people will find it interesting and readable if you do make it more readable and, and where you tell some analogies. And so with that more academic stuff, I try to keep those shorter. And I try to keep, I try to keep the argument tight and so forth and so on, where if I'm writing a little bit more for, for church people or, or just a wider audience, I'll, I'll spend maybe a little more time on the stories and so forth and so on.

So it is a different style, but I do think you can take many of those principles. I mean, honestly, what is writing? It's communication. And so if you're having a conversation with people that are not there, through your writing, and hopefully helping them in some ways. And if you're sitting there and you're boring them out of your mind, that's not a very good conversation.


Jeff: Yeah. Amen. And listeners, if you don't know, Patrick mentioned Helen Sword. You can go listen to my interview with her. that's a few episodes back, maybe 20 or 30 episodes back, and we talk about her book, the writers diet, and zombie nouns and all that great stuff.

And I was such a great episode. It's probably my favorite. Episode. She was just such a wise coach and just teach her on writing. It was, it was outstanding.

Patrick: Yeah. She's great. All her books are so good. I just, again, require them for all my ThM  students because they're just so helpful.

Jeff: yeah. Now, what are some of your, writers that have just been, maybe mentors for you, people that would, beyond kind of your riders, Mount Rushmore, your own personal, writers Rushmore.

Patrick: Yeah. Well, in terms of, in terms of academic or

Jeff: Anything. Anything

Patrick: anything. Okay. Well, you know, in my PhD, a big influence was Jonathan Pennington. And he really pushed,  you're in the PhD program there at Southern. He's going to really push you on writing, and so he was really helpful in terms of just walking through writing and making sure it flowed very well.

So he, I remember this line that he gave me, he maybe still uses it. It's a funny analogy, but. He, he used to say to me like, you should let your reader like kind of slide down this like butter slide without any rocks hitting them on the way. So you shouldn't ever be jostling your readers like, Oh, what was that like?

What are you saying here? I don't quite understand. Like it should be a smooth ride always for your reader. So he was, he was always pushing me in my writing. He said, some of your ideas are good, but you're not getting them. Across well and half of the half the battle is getting them across well. And so I, I found that to be true.

Like the things that were most captured by are spoken or written well. So I look at his writing, I think his writing is very good. So, I look at Jamie Smith's writing. Jamie Smith's writing is very good, just in terms of how he uses analogies from movies, from TV, from music, so forth and so on. And he just not, not only does he have great ideas, not only does he.

Oh or write in a way that just captures your mind, but it captures your imagination. And so I think the combination of those two for someone like a Jamie Smith, even an N T right? Honestly and T right is popular. Partly because he knows how to write, partly because he takes concepts that are so difficult.

I mean, his chapter on second temple Judaism and his and Mike bird's most recent introduction is, is the best summary of second temple Judaism I've ever read because it's readable. Like it's fun to read. And so NT Wright is popular partially because of what he says, but partially because how he says it.

So, Kevin Vanhoozer, Jamie Smith and NT Wright, Jonathan Pennington. Ernest Hemingway, is, I would look up to him in terms of his style because he's so simple. And so one of the things, John Calvin, my father, brevity and clarity are just really what I strive for. And so I, I, I really work at trying to make my sentences short and kind of pop.

Yeah. But I don't do that always, because if you do that always it gets a little, you know, you're kind of like just duh, duh, duh, duh, duh, duh, duh, duh. So you really want to vent, vary your sentence length. But I think what most people struggle with is, getting a sentence in there that's three or four words.

And so I, I'm even writing a commentary right now and I'm just working on looking at my sentences and saying, can I shorten this at all? Can I make it pop anymore? And if I have a long sentence right before it. I really want to put a short sentence or a few short sentences right afterwards just to kind of make it pop.

So, so those are some of the people I look at. I mean, obviously I love C S Lewis, JR Tolkien, severe, very, they're great writers. Alexander Dumas. he's great in terms of just storytelling. He, his books on three Musketeers, man in the iron mask. Those are some of the books, like in the past a lot. So, in terms of classics, those would be some of the people I look up to.

Jeff: Yeah. I think the, the varying of of sentence length, man, that is just a writing hack that if, if people could start implementing right away, it'll, it'll, I think it does revolutionize your writing. It just gives the reader variation and speed, and let things sink in. Like I, I think there are three people who have, who do amazing job at it, and they're all related. Ray, Cortland, Gavin, Orland, and Dane, Orland, all three of them. I'm reading Dana, Portland's gentle and lowly right now, and he just does a masterful job at having these longer profound sentences. And then a very short, abrupt, the sentence right after that that kind of lets it all sit.

It's kind of a nice shave and a haircut and then give any six bits right at the end. I mean, it's just, it's so good.

Patrick: There must be something in their blood. You know, one person said, you can do, and maybe you've done this is you know, when you're writing just the, how long your sentences are, you can look and see. But if you double space between each one for like for a page, you can just see in terms of visually how long your sentences are going.

Does that make sense? So like keep your, do one double space, go to the next sentence. And so just after you've written it, go through and say, Oh look, all of my sentences are like. 10 words, that means you're not very like, it's going to be the same length on your, on your page. That makes sense. So,


Jeff: did that? Somebody shared that on Twitter and that they make their students do it.

Patrick: I don't remember. I feel like somebody else had told me that, so I do that sometimes as well. I just, I more look at it now and just say, okay, how long is the sentence? But it's, it's something I'm always looking for.

Jeff: Yeah, that's a great, that's a great trick. yeah. So man, you've written, Matthew, the about the discipled scribe. you've got, your book on kingdom through in covenants and stuff are no nuts on it. Kingdom and glory in the cross. What's the title of the book from Crossway?

Patrick: for God and the glory of the cross. Yeah. And there's a big debate going around about gospel. So you know, you can just pick up that book and get all your answers.

Jeff: Go pick that up. 

Patrick: it.

And then. Is that it right now? I mean, I have my dissertation out and then I have a book on the Ascension coming out this summer.

Jeff: I'm s, I'm pumped foor that.

Patrick: And then a few, quite a few other projects

Jeff: Yeah. Yeah. So let's, let's go through the, the, the, your tweets. So at 9:57 AM my time, I guess. April 16th, 2020

Patrick: Yeah.

Jeff: at PJ_Shriner says, a few people have asked me what I'm working on during hashtag quarantine life in regard to books, projects there. The sit below, here comes the

Patrick: And I think that there's the, there's the edit you need in there somewhere. Tweets are terrible.

Jeff: One, I'm putting the finishing touches on my Ascension book with Lexham press @Lexhampress coming out in July, which may, I can't wait for it. And you say the second tweet, in it argued Jesus' work would be incomplete without his ascent to God's right hand, not only a key moment in the gospel story. Jesus' Ascension was necessary for his present ministry in and through the church. And that's in the snapshots of theology. A little series that Lexham puts out. Actually have Larry Hurtado sitting over here, Todd, 

Patrick: it's great. It's a great book. That's a great book. I, I mean, part of the reason I'm excited about that series, it's just because that book was so formative and helpful like we were just talking about. I mean, he's done so much work. That's a snapshot of, I mean, years and years of his work, so that's a great book.

Jeff: Yeah. Destroys or the gods is outstanding.

Patrick: I love that book too.

Jeff: two, you said in June, the book Baptist and the church tradition releases where I contributed a chapter on hermeneutics. Three, I'm about to turn in a manuscript for a commentary on acts with B&H pub that looks at the book from a more theological, narratival and ecclesial way.

My guess is should be late 2021 for I midway through a book with at moody publishers called the visual word. And illustrate a guy to the New Testament books. I'm a very excited to see how this project show people this project based off my visual outlines I've posted on Twitter. That's gonna be very cool.

Five I am working on a proposal for a book on the gospel that is tentatively called the political gospel, and that's all I will say about it at this point. And I forgot to add, I just signed another contract with  Crossway to do a New Testament biblical theology of Acts. I sketched out two chapters and we'll try to use the second half of the summer to work on it.

Dude, fill up your schedule, man. You got, you know, you need to find some stuff to do

Patrick: That's what my wife keeps saying. She's like, why are you doing this? You don't make any money off this.

Jeff: a man. She is preaching

Patrick: she knows though that like I, I just love to do it. Like this is not, this is not a chore for me. And you know, some of these are related. So my Acts commentary is birthing both the Ascension book and the ax biblical theology. So, you know, some of these things are spinoffs. So if things that I've thought through and I'm like, I can't put all this in this commentary I got, I got to do something else on this.

So. So many of these things are related, but, and they're different. You know, I'm, I'm trying to, one of the things I like to do is just write in different, at different levels. So the commentary is a little more academic. It's not, it's actually not a technical commentary, but it's still more academic. the essential book is more like the kingdom of God book and glory of the cross.

And then the acts book will again be more at that level. and then the visual word one is totally different. If you've seen Ryan Lister stuff, I think you've had him on here actually, right. So I'm using the same artists from humble beast and designing all of my kind of outlines in the new Testament.

And then I'm going to summarize the whole new Testament book in two paragraphs and then link to the icons that he's making for each section of the book. I'll have a paragraph summary. So what we're hoping that's going to be is someone sits down, they're like, I'm going to preach through Romans. Like you can look at it, outline the front of a commentary, but honestly, my eyes just go cross eyed when I see things like, you're like, what in the world is happening here, so we're going to fit the outline of every book on one page that's a more minimalist. You can kind of look, I mean, you can't look at it probably in 30 seconds and get it, but you can look at it for maybe two minutes and kind of get the flow and read a very short summary just to kind of have a sense of where this is going and how, how it's put together, and I'll use like a, for Romans, I put righteousness of God for Matthew, fulfillment for Mark, the servant King. So kind of get the theme up there and just, this is what I think the theme is for this. This is, if you, even if you're going to do a preaching series.

I'm trying to think for preachers, like what, what would be a good, almost like title for your sermon series? people can do different ones obviously, but I'm thinking, especially for pastors for that one. So that's been really fun and really difficult because it's a new skill because I have to think of what image I've got to instruct to Anthony who is working with me.

Like what image do we tell them about to do second Corinthians? What image do you do for comfort? Like, that's so hard to do. It's a totally different skill. So we get on, we get on once a week and I say, this is what it's about. And then we bounce around ideas for what kind of icon or image would fit for it. And, usually he helps me more than I help him because I'm like, man, I have no idea. Let's just put a cross for all of these and go.

Jeff: That's, that's, that's pretty funny. Okay, so you, you got all these, all these projects, that have, you know, some are done, some you're working on, some are, are almost completed. How do you keep these things straight? How do you organize, what does the writing week look like for you?

Patrick: Yeah, well, it's, it's not even the main thing I do because I'm a teacher and I run the THM program here at Western seminary, so that, that's the first thing I do. And so I, I make sure I have my classes and my grading. My interactions with students, and I'm in pastoral ministry. I'm an elder at my church. So those things certainly come first.

But, in terms of all the writing projects that I, I try to do, you know, each one's at a different stage and I find it helpful to, hopefully, I can continue this. I'm, you know, I'm new to this. I'm still figuring it out, but, So, so my Acts commentary right now, like I'm editing it right before it goes to the publisher.

My Ascension book is the fine editing, like the final stage where like just about done with it. So I just saw it typeset. We're still finding very minor errors, so forth and so on. So I enjoy every stage of the writing process. And. The other books. so the visual book, I'm more in the middle of it. I'm still writing, I'm still composing. The Crossway book I just composed like two chapters. So for me, if I sit down, like let's say I have a whole day to write because I, I've gotten everything else done. If I sit down and I try to compose all day long, like just write on a blank screen, usually I'm pretty much done in about like three to five.

Like I'm sapped, right? I could sit there and produce pretty quickly. And get something on paper. But after that, I pretty much need to add just because my brain is fried and it's a different, it's a different mental exercise to me. So actually with all these projects, I like having them at different stages because I just mentally can't be always editing.

Like I'm so tired of editing my Acts commentary right now. I'm like, it's killing me. But I know I have to keep editing it. And, and one of the things about my writing that I've learned, and this might be helpful for people, is. You know, people talk about different types of writers. Either you're kind of slow and clean, or you're like quick and muddy in your writing.

In other words, you either get stuff out really quickly and it's a mess, or you have a problem with getting things out, but when you get it out, it's gold. I'm definitely in, in the first case, I, it it out so quickly. I mean, I can. Like, I literally just signed a contract with Crossway and I got 20,000 words out.

Like, no problem. But it's a mess. It's a mess. Like it's, it's not even close to being done. Cause people are like, Oh my goodness, you got out 20,000 words that quickly. And I'm like, well yeah, but it's, I've got to edit this thing like 75 times after this.

Jeff: and that is not, yeah, we're totally inverse.

Patrick: You're, you're the different way. And that's, that's fine. Like, that's different personalities and that's how they work. So I, I can get stuff on paper, but man, I have to work at editing and I'm not, I don't think I'm a great editor. Honestly. I need help. that's where publishers helped me a lot. But I, I literally read through my manuscripts so many times.

Probably. there's no, there's not too many times that you can read through it, right. But, I read, I feel like I've read through my Acts commentary 30 times now, just editing, editing, editing, editing. And then what I try to do is I send it to people who are nice enough where they will read my stuff and you get different eyes on it and they see different things.

So. right now it's, it's gone out to a few scholars and a few friends just to say, Hey, help me out with writing and help me out with content. Help me out with whatever you want to help me out with. If you, if you have any time, give me feedback. So

Jeff: Man, I'm with you, I remember, you know, writing Humble Calvinism and then having to edit the chapters over and over and over, and then eventually you just think, I don't want to look at this again.

Patrick: yeah, you get tired of it.

Jeff: I don't even like it anymore. I don't want to see it. Just editor-you take it if you're good with it, I'm good with it.

Like I don't even want to look at it anymore.

Patrick: It's usually when it comes out and you're like, I'm so tired of this

Jeff: Oh yeah. But then when I got the first box of like author copies, it's like, Oh, cool. Open it up. I'm like, man, that's a great cover. They did a great job. I flipped open. I start looking at it. I'm like, that was dumb. Why did I put that in there? This book stinks.

No one's going to read this dumb thing.

Patrick: that's right.

Jeff: this is a nightmare. Okay, so

Patrick: I haven't read that yet, but I've heard great things. I don't think you're right about that.

Jeff: a lot of people are liars. you know, that's what we, that's what we know about social media. The book stinks this is, this is me trying to be a humble, humble Calvinist.  So when you're going to sit down to, to write. Let's, let's now talk about, I this, I did this with Lore Ferguson Wilbert and I, I, I don't remember to do it. Whenever I sit down to do these interviews, I just sit down. I don't have any notes. I have nothing. And it's just a, just a conversation about writing. So I want to try to remember to do this with, with, with people on the show. this is like the MTV writers crib edition, remember that show cribs?

Patrick: Yeah.

Jeff: And so.

Patrick: The scholars who do cribs would be, it would be quite disappointing to take, take them through the house

Jeff: So we're just going to do your writing area and your desk and your like habits. All right, so, so what's the place where you typically write? tell me, tell me two things on your desk that are there.

Patrick: Yeah. You know where I write the best is at coffee shops. So I go to Heart coffee on woods in Portland. It's great coffee, and I don't really drink coffee, so I get some tea. but yeah, that's another story. But they have, the walls are basically all windows, and I put in headphones. And I sit down just with my computer or with research and I began writing. So, I like, number one, I like to change the scenery because it gives me a new energy. And so every once in a while it change  coffee shops just because I feel like I'm in a rut and honestly, like a new seat and looking at new things will give, give me something, I don't know what it is.


Jeff: So if you're not at heart, where do you go? Do you go to Cova?

Patrick: Yeah. Well, there's a few coffee shops like in Sellwood, which is near us that I'm like, ah, I don't even, Oh, a fair lane coffee. So there's some like local coffee shops. Cova is further away from me, so I don't always go to that one. But there's some local coffee shops that I go, I kind of go around.

Sometimes I go to our. A local public library to write. sometimes I'll go to a restaurant and eat lunch there and just hang out there and write. Sometimes I'll do it in my office, but my office doesn't have great windows. But if I need resources and I need my books, then I'll do it in my office.

Recently, I've had to do it at home. That's worked terribly, with COVID stuff. So we just have young kids and everything's going on, and I never know what, what's my role here? Do I keep writing or do I let my son fall off the trampoline? You know, So, yeah, I think the place that I write the best is at a coffee shop with, this is the other weird thing about me.

I have like Epic  movie scores that I listened to while I write

Jeff: Not weird.  Not 

Patrick: no, that's not weird. Okay. So I have a Spotify playlist, like best studying scores, and I've actually posted on, Twitter a few times, but I have, let me pull it up right now. How many songs? I have 200, 206 songs.

Jeff: That's it.

Patrick: That's it. Sorry,

Jeff: How many hours? What's the hours of your writing playlist?

Patrick: 13 hours and 50 minutes.

Jeff: man, I have 466 songs.

Patrick: you killed me.

Jeff: 27 hours and 36 minutes.

Patrick: you got to share that with me

Jeff: Yeah, I'll share it with you. It's got explosion in the sky. It's not just soundtracks though, but there are a lot of soundtracks, so it's got the lone survivor sound track. social network.

Patrick: yeah, yeah.

Jeff: a lot of the, all of stranger things is in here. Anything Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross have done is in here.

Patrick: So I don't do the whole albums. Here's the difference. I just picked three songs that I love the best from certain ones. So you do, do you do a whole album

Jeff: I see the whole album and

Patrick: You cheated to win. That's appraised.

Jeff: Well, and, and like, yeah, you do, you, yours is more refined, but like, I have all the beautiful eulogy instrumentals in here.

Patrick: Oh, cool. Yup, yup.

Jeff: it's gotta be instrument, all the kinks, kaleidoscope, I mean, all that stuff. And then I just pop it on shuffle and just let it go.

Patrick: You know, and sometimes I can do just like indie music with lyrics, local natives. I mean, just whoever I'm listening to you, Bon Iver, honestly, I can write with, with even words coming through the speakers and it's fine. Especially if I know the music, if I don't know the music as well. Then it's a little harder for me, but, if I forget my headphones, I find it very difficult. I don't know. It's just something about my pattern.

Jeff: And like if I'm, if I'm at my, my home study, which is where I typically do most of my writing as I've got my, my vinyls over here, and sometimes I'll pop those on. That way I can get up, you know, you got to flip it. So I have, I'll have to get up that way. You're moving around and not sit in the chair for hours on end.

And, but I found out that one, the one artists I cannot write to is Stevie Ray Vaughan. He is too good. And I sit back at my chair, I'm making all the faces, like I'm playing with them and I start air guitar and I'm like, I can't listen to this and work.

Patrick: I thought you were going to say Drake

Jeff: No, I got enemies. you know, I, I can't, I don't, I probably didn't know how the rights to even say that.

Patrick: God's

Jeff: on here, God's plan,

Patrick: you should look at in some of my works, I try to sneak in footnotes like little, Easter eggs, you know, for people.

Jeff: I wanted to do that with a Seinfeld references.

Patrick: Did they cut them? Don't let people cut them.

Jeff: they cut it. They, I said something like a puffy white shirt. but it was a part of this argument I was trying to make maybe for definite atonement or something. I don't remember. And we just had too many words and so it had to be cut. So this whole like line of logic, I was trying to make like editors like this, this part has to go, I was like, Oh no puffy white shirt.


Patrick: Yup. Don't do it.

Jeff: but it's gone. So that dream, that guy, the dream, and I didn't do it for my first book. I was like, well,

Patrick: In the Acts commentary argue that God's plan is one of the main theological themes. So I had to footnote Drake.

Jeff: ah, so is that gonna make it?

Patrick: I have no idea. They haven't seen it yet, but I mean, I've got, I've got Kanye, I've got Drake in there. I've got, I've got a bunch of people that

Jeff: Kanye is good. Yeah. Kanye's a brother.

Patrick: I just slip them in there, so we'll see what the editors say, but I'll, I'll, I'm going to fight for him. I'm going to fight for him.

Jeff: It was, it was so difficult in my sermon that I preached last Thursday, that aired on Sunday, and I just started at First John. And when I said, he is the light. It was so difficult for me to not to say cut out all the lights. He the light.

Patrick: That's right.


Got pulled over, see the brights. Okay. now. So what we already talked about music, we talked about you don't have a writing desk.

so in either your study or your office at home or flip flop, whatever that may be, what are some objects in there that they just mean a lot to you? Either just, you know, cause they communicate a lot, you know, of truth and reminds you of things or this, you know, they're part of your personality.

Patrick: Yeah. I wish I had better answers to this. I, I've looked at like paintings that I want to get a, I don't have any of that stuff right now, so when I'm at the coffee shop, what means a lot to me is I'm in the city, let's just put it this way, and I'm watching people walk by. And I like being in the city because it just reminds me of where I'm placed and what's going on, and that very few care about what I'm doing.

So, but that, like, I'm writing to people who are ministering to these people, right. And I'm getting to them. So in terms of what's important to me, I usually have my chai with me. I have my MacBook pro, I have my music. And if you're at a coffee shop, you don't have any of your other stuff. So I actually don't have a lot of stuff like that in my office. I have my books around me. I have my standing up and down desks that I can stand up with sometimes. But, I've wanted to get some paintings. I just haven't decided what to, and they are. Yeah. I mean, I'm a, I'm a poor.

Jeff: I'll have to get a print framed. I'm like, good grief. And so,

Patrick: to steal them, you know? So,

Jeff: Yeah. National. It'd be like a, not national treasure. I don't know what it would be. Global treasure. 

Patrick: I you little, you might have like magical devices, like, you know, Paul and Peter, like you could touch their garments and you could be a better writer. I don't have any of that stuff. I just honestly have my computer and what I'm drinking and the headphones, the headphones are the key piece for me.

Jeff: Yeah. So we need  some, relics.

Patrick: A rally.

Jeff: need some writing relics. Amid Midwestern has them. They've got Spurgeon's hair follicles. they're

Patrick: it. I,

Jeff: in a tank. 

Patrick: cigar that he smoked before he died.

Jeff: his cherry wine  bottle opener too. 

Patrick: I did, like when I touched those things, I became a better preacher. So,

Jeff: I, I developed a, a British accent for the day when I, when I did it. So like, and my study, I've got the a, do you remember? You've, I know you've seen it. It's a drawing of Eve and Mary.

Patrick: Oh yeah, the controversial one now because of joe carter.

Jeff: Yeah. Where, you know, and,

Patrick: no, I'm, I'm for, I'm for you though. It's okay. it's a great image. I've, you know, at the beginning, I, you know, I'm totally interrupting you, but I've thought about getting that one, and then I thought, dang, it got controversial now. I don't know if I want to do it.

Jeff: I don't remember the controversy about it. 

Patrick: Whether it's to Roman Catholic,

Jeff: Too Roman Catholic. Okay. 

Patrick: I mean, what's the controversy like is marry ourselves nation? And I'm like, no, it's . It's like,

Jeff: baby in the womb. Jesus in her womb,

Patrick: Yeah, exactly.

Jeff: clear. But Mary is the one stopping the on  the snake. So I have that here, but I like a bigger version of it. So now, cause it was just like a little card

Patrick: It's tiny. Yeah.

Jeff: And so I found that, monastery, I think it's the, the word, the right word where they make them and they make them in a little bit bigger frame. So I have like an eight and a half by 11. Matted but not framed. It's leaning on a lamp cause I can't afford a frame.

Patrick: Yeah. I'm glad you're worshiping Mary. You know, that's, you can cut all of this, but.

Jeff: Well then it's right next to a Luther bobblehead. Yeah.

Patrick: There you go. There you go. You're just, that seems like it'd be very confusing to you. Like who am I right now?

Jeff: And then there's a James harden bobblehead adjacent to that.

Patrick: do you want to talk about the, what is it, 2014 Damian Lillard shot at all?

Jeff: man, I know there are some things I hope don't come up on podcasts, and that's definitely one of them.

Patrick: yeah, well, don't worry. We were, what are we? We're ninth in the Western.

Jeff: horrible

Patrick: Very horrible this

Jeff: Y'all are probably happy this season's probably going to get canceled.

Patrick: Oh, I mean, it gives time for everybody to get Nurkuic to get back up and we're, we're good. Yeah.

Jeff: I, I, I really do fear Steph Curry and all those guys too. But man, there's something about Damian Lillard that against the rockets, man, he's just stone cold. And I remember that night so vividly, a friend was, I think maybe two friends were over. We were dancing in the living room, all that jumping around.

And then when Lillard hit that shot, I mean, I literally fell to my knees.

Patrick: Yeah, I shouldn't have problem because you know the saints, when they beat the Vikings in 2008 or something like that, when we had Brett Farve, do you remember that game? And then the saints went on to win the Superbowl. That was like. They like stuck a dagger in my heart. That was the worst ever. They tried to injure Farve in that game.

They twist his ankle. Then he threw an interception at the end. But Damian Lillard, I mean, I'm watching the, you know, the last dance, I'm sure everybody, it's 6 million people are watching. Everyone's watching it. but Damian Lillard, he's not Jordan, obviously, but he's got that killer instinct

Jeff: right, right.

Patrick: there's something about it, which, you know, we won't talk.

I just don't think LeBron has that killer.

Jeff: I don't. I don't think so either. And I, yeah, I don't think harden has it clearly. I feel like Westbrook has it more than harden does. cause he just so intense. And so I, I was very anti us getting Westbrook at the beginning, but now I'm, I'm thrilled that we have them and glad that we do. He's so much fun.

And I still think Harden's great too. At the Westbrook bobblehead has been upgraded. It's on my desk. I'm next to a Calvin bobblehead. I have a lot of bobbleheads

Patrick: We've got two of the probably best bat backcourts, right? I mean, McCollum, Lillard, Westbrook and Harden. That's, is there any backcourt that's better? I can't think of.

Jeff: Active. No.

Patrick: Yeah, yeah,

Jeff: Unless you know Steph and Klay, but I  would pick Harden 

Patrick: yeah, 

Jeff: Klay

Patrick: that's true.

Jeff: clay and depending on what needs to happen, I, you know, if I need the last shot at the game, I'm picking stuff. If I need somebody to care my franchise by themselves, I'm picking Harden.

Patrick: Yeah. Yeah. I would, Oh, we're talking too much basketball now, but I went a playoff game where stuff was coming back 2016 I think it was. He was coming back from an injury. And, yeah, we were beating them. I mean, it was a great game. The fans were going crazy. Playoff game, first round playing the warriors.

We were beating them the whole game. And Steph was, you know, he was kind of getting back from his injury. You could tell he was a little rusty. And then he turned it on the fourth quarter and over time it demolished, demolished us. And he was just draining threes. And I respected him, but I hated him at the same time.

Jeff:  man, I was at the game where Chris Paul pulled his hamstring.

Patrick: Oh, yeah.


Jeff: wife and I were in the stadium. I saw him hop up and grab the back of his leg and I just knew it's over.

Patrick: Yikes. Yeah.

Jeff: that would've been it. We would've, we would've won and the championship, we would have steamrolled those Cavs. Ah, man. And I got a lot, a lot of rockets, Miller memorabilia around here too. And so I think, is there anything left to say about writing?

Patrick: I'm sure there's a lot, but

Jeff: You gave so much great advice. 

Patrick: I may, main thing I'd say is edit, edit. You got to edit your work a ton. A ton. And that's especially for me because I write so quickly, but. you know, I have a document and another interesting thing about writing, I'll just add this. I have, a document in Evernote. I use Evernote to save some stuff and I just have a document called writing cuts.

And I literally, at the end of my writing, I go through and I search my, there is, there are, it is, it was my adverbs, my, that's my is I N G statements that was, that are very, anything that does doesn't need to be there. And I searched him. I don't take everything out, but I just look at all those and say, does that need to be there?

Like are usually a, there is, there are sentences are not strong sentences or it is, it was, it can be helpful in terms of if you're trying to make a point and being poetic or repetitive at times. But for the most part, I, I think it's a good thing to have those like things that you usually don't want in your writing and just control F.

And search those things, get rid of them. So that's one of the final steps I do. I just look for those things and try to strengthen my sentences.

Jeff: man, that's a great, great tip. I'll, I'll steal that and be frustrated at myself in the, in the process. Self-editing and self-loathing are very close friends.

Patrick: That's right.

Jeff: Well, Patrick, thanks so much for coming on the show, man. listeners, be sure to go to Amazon and search for all of Patrick's books. You can find Matthew, his, his book of Matthew, the disciple and scribe, there and also find his book on the kingdom and the cross from Crossway and all of his new books coming out.

And especially his Ascension book, which you will definitely want to grab. And then you'll also want to go. after you leave a five star review for this podcast, you're gonna to go to your podcast app and go over and find food trucks in Babylon with him and Todd miles is a great show, a lot of fun, a great theology, great guests, and fun conversations about food. Of course, it's in Portland and all that. Do you have a handlebar mustache yet? Or just just the beard.

Patrick: You know, I had one for a little while and then I just got rid of it on the quarantine time. My wife said, it's time to go so. I always grown it out. It was getting pretty big. I mean, to the point where, man, I was curling that thing. It was, it was going pretty high. I had an automatic like joker smile on my face all the time.

It was great.

Jeff: I have an automatic envy for everyone with facial hair, with a beard. Just my wife is a anti beard.

Patrick: Dr. Mohler at ETS was like, Hey, I see your hair's going every which way now, and then he walked away from me. That was him making fun of me for my handle stash. So. I just trying to think of something clever but to say back to him, but I couldn't think it up.

Jeff: So be sure to be sure to go listen to their their podcast about theology and a little bit about food, food trucks in Babylon. He goes, subscribe to that and go follow him on Twitter and Patrick, what's your blog? So you can tell people to go over there.

Patrick: I don't do anything on my blog.

Jeff: All right. Don't go there.

Patrick: Yeah, don't

Jeff: Go to mine, go to mine. I blogged there three times a year, jamedders.com

Patrick: There you go. 

Jeff: And of course you can find all of my books on Amazon as well, and follow me on Twitter at Mr Medders and I love to hear from you. Be sure to leave a rating for the show in iTunes and all that. Tell your grandmother and as always, just to keep writing.