The Joy of Getting Published

Added about a month ago by Richard Noble

GUEST BLOG: Ever wondered what it is like to dedicate yourself to researching and writing a book, and then to have it published? For Richard Noble, author of The Writing on the Wall, all the hard work was definitely worthwhile.

Getting this writing “onto the wall” was fun. It all started seven years ago with a reading of the King James Bible from cover to cover in my local church to celebrate the 400th anniversary of its publication. I was intrigued with a phrase from the book of Job: “by the skin of my teeth”. Everyone knows what it means, but the words by themselves make no sense. While I was writing a brief piece about how the phrase is used today and its Bible context, I mentioned what I was doing in a chance telephone conversation with a Hebrew scholar. He told me that no one really knows the meaning of the Hebrew word translated as “teeth”. He was fascinated by what I was doing and encouraged me to investigate more Bible phrases. And so the idea was born to use familiar phrases that have their origin in the Bible as “keys” to “unlock” the books that make it a whole, many of which are however seldom read nowadays.

With the limitless resources of the internet, the research for this kind of endeavour is much easier than it used to be. As an engineer, this is just the sort of exercise that appeals to my analytical but creative mind. I discovered that many of the most commonly-used Bible phrases come from only a few of the 66 books of the Bible, namely: Matthew, Exodus, Genesis, Psalms, Ecclesiastes and Revelation, with by far the majority from Matthew. Eventually I identified representative phrases from each of the 66 books, and set about writing for each a short piece about its Bible context and the book itself, followed by another, exploring the life of the phrase in literature and culture. The result was printed locally as a fundraiser for my church with a successful sponsored book launch in 2012. It created a lot of interest and several readers suggested I should try and get it published. In this I was fortunate when a helpful person at one of the big publishers said that although it was not really up their street, it would be worth trying Sacristy Press.

The editorial process was an entirely new experience for me and although it involved a whole lot more work, it was definitely worthwhile. The book grew about a third in length and was much enhanced, both as an introductory guide to the Bible as a whole and in covering the everyday use of the phrases. In the earlier version, the Bible context of each phrase and its secular usage were on facing pages. A simple but important suggestion from the team at Sacristy Press was to run the chapters on without page breaks, allowing more emphasis to be given to the main Bible books and some of the phrases. This also allowed more space for helpful guidance and look-up references for readers seeking a simple introduction to the Bible. It seems the short introductory sections are found particularly helpful in giving an overall picture, especially the one about the period between the Old and New Testaments. The book launch took place at Durham Cathedral in 2015 during the Durham Book Festival and was extremely well attended.

There have also been several by-products from the creation of The Writing on the Wall, not least the additional funds raised for my local church. My research uncovered hundreds more phrases that have entered everyday use following the publication and widespread distribution of the King James Bible, many of which appeared first in earlier translations. Sacristy Press set up a Twitter account that tweets phrases with their meanings on a daily basis, as well as a website that acts as a catalogue of themed phrases for use by sermon writers, linguists and others. There is also a website of my own, which provides lots more information. With Sacristy’s encouragement, I have presented a number of illustrated talks around the country generating both interest and book sales. One of these was arranged at King’s College Cambridge, whose Dean, Stephen Cherry (a Sacristy Press author himself), invited me to speak on a theme from the book at Matins in May 2017. It was quite an experience to climb up the steps into the pulpit under the vast expanse of the world-famous fan vaulted roof and address a congregation of over two hundred! I have thoroughly enjoyed publishing this book, and hope that you enjoy reading it just as much.

The Writing on the Wall is our #BookOfTheMonth for October 2018! The King James Bible is a treasure-trove of idioms and clichés that have entered everyone’s vocabulary—and yet few are aware of the Bible as their source. Taking a phrase from each book and exploring its origins and modern usage, Richard Noble gives a fascinating glimpse into this “inestimable treasure”, the first mainstream English translation and still unequalled in linguistic beauty.

Get your copy today for just £7.99.

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