James Watkins on the psalms

Jim is an award-winning author of over twenty books and 2,000 articles, who has spoken across the United States and overseas. He has served as an editor and editorial director at Wesleyan Publishing House, an editor with the American Bible Society, taught writing at Taylor University for 15 years, and has guest-lectured at Liberty, Regent and other universities. He is currently writing and speaking full-time as well as editing for ACW Press and other clients. His most important roles, however, are being a child of God, husband, dad and “papaw.”

Tell us about your newest book.

The title is almost as along as the book. The Psalms of Asaph: Struggling with Unanswered Prayer, Unfulfilled Promises, and Unpunished Evil. The writer of Psalms 50 and 73-83 watched the glorious rise Israel and the building of the magnificent Temple as well as the moral collapse and complete destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple. His writing is filled with raw, honest anguish as he struggled with unanswered prayer, unfulfilled promises, and unpunished evil. Not unlike we do today.

What genre do you focus on and why?

From high school journalism class to grad school courses, “Write tight” was pounded into my little brain. So, I have written a few short stories, but when I attempted a novel, I was done in ninety pages—and that was after I threw in a car chase. So, 99 percent of my writing has been nonfiction with lots of humor.

Why do you write? What drives you?

I’m not sure of the deep, dark subconscious drives that make me a writer, but I simply cannot not write. I feel like the prophet Jeremiah who wrote, “If I say I’ll never mention the Lord or speak in his name, his word burns in my heart like a fire. It’s like a fire in my bones! I am worn out trying to hold it in! I can’t do it!” I believe it’s God’s Spirit that motivates me to share, as my tag line describes, “hope and humor.”

What does a day in your writing world look like?

Generally, I try to spend an hour or so with Scripture, devotional reading and journaling, then devote the rest of the morning to serious writing. After three or four hours, my mind turns to Silly Putty, so I get an afternoon nap, then use the rest of the day on writing that doesn’t require intensity or creativity like email, social networking, website maintenance.

What is the hardest part of being an author? Why?

Writing.

What’s the best part of your author’s life? Why?

Having written. That and the joy of receiving feedback of how my writing has effected readers. An email from a young woman made writing on suicide so very worth it: “Thank you for saving my life.”

What is the craziest thing you’ve experienced as an author?

Probably writing two books on death. The research included watching an embalming, watching people die, and going to a goth teen’s funeral. That was a long ten months!

What are you most proud of?

That my adult children know Christ and are in full-time ministry. As far as writing, I have several book and editing awards, but the absolute best affirmation was a note I found on the podium where I was speaking. “Jim, we can see Jesus in you.” No better compliment!

What is your favorite pastime?

Probably being a news junky.

Do you have other books? We’d love to know.

I actually have had twenty-plus books published. Your readers can go to www.jameswatkins.comand click on the BOOKS tab for free excerpts from them.

What are you working on now?

I’m between books right now. Letting my brain cool off. My agent is pitching a sequel to my modernization of Thomas a Kempis’ The Imitation of Christ which will be called Intimacy with Christ.

Website: jameswatkins.com

Link to book: jameswatkins.com/asaph/

Social media links: facebook.com/ipastor52 

Instagram @jameswatkinsauthor

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