Thoughts on Publishing: What Would the Wright Brothers Do?

“If we worked on the assumption that

what is accepted as true really is true,

then there would be little hope for advance.”

~Orville Wright

A lot of hoopla surrounds the publishing industry, these days more than ever. In the midst of the business, it’s easy to forget the original dream and heart of the artist.

This is not a new phenomenon.

Nor is it unique to the publishing industry.

Take the Wright brothers, for example. I wonder if Orville and Wilbur had today’s airplane industry in mind when they first sketched out their dream to fly. I assume they were two wildly imaginative, brilliant brothers who had a knack for ingenuity, and who simply wanted to feel their feet leave the ground. Who simply wanted to fill their lungs with air free from the heavy, constant pull of gravity.

Sure, they must’ve been pleased to see the initial progress of their invention, how flight began to morph into bigger, stronger vehicles which allowed others to feel weightless freedom, too.

But what would they think now?

Of the pushing and shoving and security detail in airports? Of gunfire, like rain pouring from silver wings? Of hijackings? Of crashes? Of bankrupt airlines? Of their beautiful, wooden machine used as weapons of mass destruction on 9/11 nearly a century after liftoff?

Of course, modern-day airplanes are still a marvel. Their massive engines bring orphans into the arms of adoptive parents; soldiers into the embrace of waiting wives and newborns; food to the starving; medicine to the dying; peace to the war-torn; relief to the hopeless.

All of these things–the good and the bad–began with a dream which lolled around the hearts of two gangly boys for years, and which eventually tamed the winds on a lonely, sandy beach.

And so it is with the publishing business. A single page of script begins as it did with the Wright brothers, with a small dream in a great, big heart. From there, the dream takes flight. And after that, it becomes a part of the industry–an industry which carries words to distant places.

Some stories give life and hope.

Others tear down and destroy.

Much ado is made over the various branches of publishing: self, electronic, traditional, mainstream, Christian, small press, large press, and on and on and on. I suppose this is not new. But the industry is merely a vehicle for syntax to take flight.

Our job as authors is to keep the original dream alive, despite commercialism, competition, money, and what all the writing blogs say.

If you’re an author (like me) who follows Jesus, our job carries the even weightier responsibilities of strengthening, encouraging, and comforting. As Christ-followers, we must choose building up over being edgy for the sake of being edgy. We must choose loving accurately over nosediving into the murky waters of what itching ears would have us say.

Write brave, yes.

After all, neither flying nor faith are safe.

But write with prayer, precision, and while feeling the weight of the cross on our wrist.


“The desire to fly is an idea handed down to us by our ancestors who, in their grueling travels across trackless lands in prehistoric times, looked enviously on the birds soaring freely through space, at full speed, above all obstacles, on the infinite highway of the air.”

~Orville Wright


What about you?

How do you stay true to your dreams and the truth you long to pen upon blank pages?

How have the Wright brothers (re)impacted you today?

23 Replies to “Thoughts on Publishing: What Would the Wright Brothers Do?”

  1. I love this Amy: Write brave, yes.
    After all, neither flying nor faith are safe.
    But write with prayer, precision, and while feeling the weight of the cross on our wrist.

  2. Great post, Amy. For me, staying true to my dream means remembering He called me to this. My role is to write the stories He gives me and to trust Him to take care of the rest.

  3. We write as encouragement to others. To make unbelievers curious about the Christian worldview, to encourage other believers to a closer walk with Him. And our prayer is that all will see Jesus in us and desire to reach out to Him.

  4. Amy, I never think of writing as a blank page. My assignment is to write the things that the Lord has taught me over many years and these things are already written on my heart. I can’t help but believe that the Wright Brothers had many things written on their hearts before their actual building began. Many of the things we write now may not have value until a much later date.

  5. Very nice post. It is frustrating that a lot of contemporary ya and mg novels aren’t being published unless they are “edgy” and I just can’t/won’t write edgy. I am hopeful that there are publishers/agents that still want nice stories, but it is frustrating. However, if you don’t try you’ll never know, right? 🙂

    1. That IS so frustrating! Finding a balance with all that for any genre is more of a challenge, the farther along into the publishing journey I go. It was a challenge in my liberal arts college writing classes too!

  6. What a thought provoking, encouraging post, Amy. It’s important for me to keep truth ever before me, growing, stretching, and studying diligently, so I rightly divide the Word of truth (2 Tim.2:15) while encouraging, benefiting and building up readers according to their needs (Eph.4:29).

  7. Miss Amy, what a splendid analogy you’ve shared here today. The encouragement from yesteryear and reminder that we answer to God, even in our writerly life, are great.

    Thank you for this piece.

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