On Monday the NY Times ran a nice piece on the archives of John Updike. I was eager to read the piece, thinking it would provide an insight into how Updike edited his material. Although the author did reveal a bit, he was not nearly expansive enough - for my tastes at least.
Editing seems to be a lost art. I find at least two grammatical errors in the Times each day - this is saying something from a writer who averages three errors a paragraph. Contextual note: i have yet to find any error in the Times Picayune, they have excellent copy editors. I would love to have a personal editor for my sermons. (I have a personal goal that I know I have made it as a pastor when three things happen: there are enough men in the congregation to field a winning softball team, I have the summers off, and have a personal secretary). On good weeks the sermon process goes likes this: last sentence written first (I once heard Robert Caro on Charlie Rose say he could not write his biographies of LBJ until he had written the last sentence. I tried it and man is that an excellent practice), outline, first draft (freehand), reading of first draft, second draft (typed and preached), final copy, and copies printed for worship (about 12 people read along during the sermon). I have a colleague who goes into the sanctuary early Saturday morning and preaches his sermon to finalize his sentence rhythm; I like the idea but no way I am going to give up my Saturday morning...yet. But that it is a perfect week. Most weeks that does not happen. When it does not happen I feel underwhelmed by my delivery and final product.
I look back on former years and think how many times delivered first draft sermons to congregations. And folk wonder why churches are not growing! I honestly believe there will be a revitalization in classical Protestantism but it will only come by way of well written, and yes edited, sermons.