Dr Paula Gooder is a freelance writer and lecturer in Biblical Studies. Her research areas are the writings of Paul the Apostle (with a particular focus on 2 Corinthians), New Testament Interpretation and the development of Ministry in the New Testament Period.
Hi. My name is Paula Gooder, and I'm a writer and lecturer in biblical studies.
Well, part of my personal background is that I started doing theology as an undergraduate, and I went to Oxford. And my tutor, in Oxford, was Tom Wright. And one of the things about learning with Tom Wright is it's almost impossible to learn with Tom Wright and not fall in love with the New Testament.
So as a result of studying with Tom for three years, as an undergraduate, I then realized that what I wanted to do, more than anything else, was to spend the rest of my life studying the New Testament. So in a way what I'm doing now is simply born out of that love that I discovered almost 20 years ago, now, for a deep study of the scriptures.
Well, I think I went into writing partially by accident, really. In that, the very first book I wrote was an introduction to the first five books of the Bible, called the Pentateuch. And somebody said, would you write a book on the Pentateuch? And I wasn't very enthusiastic, but they asked me again and again. And in the end, I said, yes, OK.
And in the course of writing the book on the Pentateuch, I suddenly discovered that I love writing. And therefore, began to start looking around for various other things that I might do. But it took me about 10 years or so to gain confidence in writing. So that, now, I've always got one or two projects on the go. But it's taken me about 10 years, actually, to get the confidence to do that writing.
Well, one of the interesting things about when your books first come out is that just utter excitement of seeing your book, finally, with a cover on it. But of course, the terrible thing for a writer is that you open up the book and realize all the things you would have done differently, if you're writing it now. And I think, one of the great torments of being a writer is I think many writers are perfectionists. And I'm a perfectionist. And I will be regularly wanting to get the book back off people, and say, no, but I need to change this. And I need to change that.
And so, in a way, a life of writing is about constantly changing your ideas about what you want to say-- constantly readjusting and rethinking things. So seeing you book for the first time in print is enormously exciting, but it's also enormously frustrating. Because you, then, want to say, I would have done it in a different kind of way.
One of the things I find most frustrating about writing is the fact that when I'm thinking about the idea in my head, it a glorious idea. It has lots of levels. It's very exciting. The argument is very clear. And then, when you start trying to put it down on paper, it becomes more and more frustrating. You can't quite capture it. You can't quite put into words exactly what it is that you're trying to say.
I'm in the middle of writing a book at the moment. And one of the things that I find every time I write a book is I have to go down into the deep depths of despair about the impossibility of ever getting it down-- of ever being able to capture the ideas that you want to capture. And it's actually out of that despair that slowly, you can start to write. So writing is a phenomenally frustrating thing to do. But it's also enormously rewarding. And it's trying to balance the rewards and the frustration of writing.
Well, for me, the personal reward is if anybody tells me that they found something that I've written helpful. Because for me, the reason for writing is to try and get people to catch an enthusiasm, an excitement, an insight into the Bible. And so for me, the most moving and biggest reward of all is somebody contacting me and saying, I found it helpful when you said, or this helped me see things in a new kind of way. And frankly, if I get one of those per book, then it's worth having written the whole book.
February 10th, 2012 - Posted & Written by G M