The Archbishop on writing.
Here are a couple of clips:
I started out as a theologian thinking that it would be fairly straight forward to write large books about Christian doctrine. I’d spent quite a few years reading them as a student and, you know, it looked fairly straight forward. You started at page one and you went on until you stopped and in some cases, as with the work of the great Karl Barth, it was a very long time between the beginning and the end. And somewhere along the line, I suppose, I wouldn’t say I lost my nerve as that’s not it, but I began to realise some of the dangers of writing large books about Christian doctrine is in the risk of supposing that when you have done it you might think that you’ve done it.
And as the years went by, I found myself, yes, writing a fair bit about theology but never really being able to go very much beyond writing relatively short essays on the subject because of this – I hope its a – godly fear of rabbiting on too much with the fantasy of thinking you’ve got it wrapped up. I don’t know but maybe one day I will find it in me to write a big book such as I fantasised about when I was a student – but I rather doubt it.
When do you have time to write for lectures and poems?
You’d probably have to ask my colleagues from Lambeth Palace about that! It’s very difficult with what you might call ‘commission writing’ when I have to write a lecture about something. It’s just a matter of being sensible about the timetable, trying to find out an adequate time both to think it and to write it, and just occasionally there’s not enough time for the former and only just time for the latter! And there’s more and more of that “I don’t know what I think yet”. Poetry though I find I can’t plan. I can’t say “Well I’ve got a morning free I’ll get on with some poems” because it is very unpredictable and the obligation to do it will take over. But I do find plane journeys very good for writing poems, or polishing poems or thinking through, because in a plane you’re nowhere in particular for a while. And it quite helps when you’re doing that sort of writing to be nowhere in particular.