January 24, 2014

Crossing the Finish Line

By Dr. David & Lisa Frisbie

With our 24th book safely written –– we’re waiting for a first glimpse of the cover art –– we are definitely finding our rhythm as writers. We’ve been down this road a few times before: contract, advance, write, edit, here comes the deadline, submit. We know the drill. 

Although we still feel like rookies at times, we’re learning what works for us and what doesn’t. We’re especially learning how to be more efficient in those last few weeks before the deadline crashes through all our protective barriers. When it’s crunch time, we need maximum productivity.

In the last few weeks before a deadline, what works for us is to get away.  We unplug our cell phones and tablets. We stow away our surfing gear and paddle far from the web. We leave behind everything familiar (and all those unfinished projects) and get out into the wilds of nature. We go Amish.

One of our author friends calls this process “going into the cave.” We have no idea if he intends a Platonic reference or if he’s just being witty. Either way he’s right on the mark. We may not hide away in an actual cave, but we definitely develop tunnel vision.

What this looks like in detailed specifics: a writing cabin out in the woods somewhere, a reliable inkjet printer, a few extra ink cartridges, several reams of recycled paper, and multiple mugs of steaming hot coffee. We do a week or ten days of caffeine-fueled, round-the-clock editing. Like pulling weeds from a garden, we uproot phrases that are too archaic or too artsy, preferring the simple and direct. We get ruthless and unemotional and focused --- at least with the words. With each other, we do our best to stay kind and gracious. (Our results vary.)

Annie Dillard writes from the San Juan Islands, watching stunt pilots do barrel rolls in the sky. Our writing locations tend to be a bit less exotic and a lot more primal: we’re on a budget here. We do reserve the right to island-hop if our sales get anywhere near the land of Dillard. Until then our take on “crossing the finish line” involves getting unplugged, leaving home, finding some quiet space in a natural setting, then working until the last bean is roasted and the last mug is down to steam and vapor.

We cross the finish line exhausted, collapsing in a heap of adrenaline, sweat and caffeine.
The book is done. The deadline is met. We never want to do this again.

But we will.
Dr. and Mrs. Frisbie are the authors of 24 published books with seven publishers, mostly on topics of marriage and family life. David and Lisa jointly serve as executive directors of The Center for Marriage and Family Studies in Del Mar, California. In addition they serve as Coordinators of Marriage and Family Ministries for the global Church of the Nazarene. They were contributing authors to "Marriage Ministry in the 21st Century" --- an anthology of research and learning released by Group Publishing in Colorado. Dr. David Frisbie teaches family studies and gerontology at Southern Nazarene University. He is a frequent speaker in chapel services, retreats, and conferences.You can connect with them at They have more than 16,000 direct, first-level connections on LinkedIn. Dr. David Frisbie is an adjunct professor at three universities;teaching courses in family studies, marriage therapy, and gerontology.

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