How I Write with Alice Patterson

BRPD - Front Cover - 2012.10.12How I Write — Interview with Alice Patterson
Author of Bridging the Racial and Political Divide

I had the privilege of working with Alice to publish her book in 2010 with a second printing in 2012. More than any other book, her writings have helped me to understand race relations in politics; the power of repentance, reconciliation, and prayer in the governmental arena; and the spiritual influence on political parties and platforms.

Alice is a woman of integrity, trusted by leaders on both sides of the aisle. Below is an interview with Alice about how she writes. I think a big takeaway from her writing process is the power of story in the context of a nonfiction book. Also how keeping a heart-felt journal can help you write from the heart when it’s time to write your book.

You can read an excerpt from her book on my website here.

Why did you write your book?
My book started as a research project because I had to understand what God was saying to me. When I shared what I had learned with friends, they encouraged me to write it down. If the topic was important to me and others I trust, I knew it would be important to a broader audience.

What do you like the most about the book? What will other readers find interesting?
I’ve been amazed at what readers have found most interesting. It’s like the Holy Spirit makes different parts of the book come alive based on the reader’s need. One reader received grace about a past abortion. I’m not sure how she got that out of this book, but I’m glad she did. Another learned the principle of corporate pain. It was new information to him and important for people in politics. Others have been set free from racism. A pastor of a Hispanic church took a worship declaration about the greatness of God from the book and starts his Sunday morning services with that.

How did you write the book? What was your writing process?
I tried to put together an outline but couldn’t. I had taken several writing courses but struggled to follow those instructions. I heard someone talk about the power of story—that it’s stories that people remember. I can tell stories, so that’s how I wrote the book. The final book is in the order I wrote it and when I was done, I was done. I enjoy having an assignment to write. I like having a topic and a deadline, but sometimes the hardest part of writing is figuring out what to say. The beginning process is the hardest. Although I didn’t have a outline for the book, I just started writing stories.

What was something that really helped you write the book?
I really feel God helped me. I knew the combination of government and spiritual topics would be scary to some people. But I felt that people who understand the political arena would get my message, especially as the Lord helped me understand, research, and write the initial impression I had from Him.

What did you find was the greatest hindrance to getting the book done?
The biggest was the outline or structure I thought I had to have before beginning. (David Sluka’s note: Just because Alice didn’t use an outline doesn’t mean she didn’t have a plan or structure. Her goal was to tell a story, which she told chronologically, and teach as she told the story. This functioned like an outline—giving her the focus and organization needed to write a great book.)

What do you feel is your greatest strength as a writer?
I’m practical. I enjoy taking complicated issues and simplifying them so people can walk them out in their lives. That was my goal in writing this book—to help people bridge the racial and political divide in their own lives and provide practical ways they can make a difference in the world around them. 

What is an interesting fact about you as a writer?
I feel as though I communicate better in writing than speaking, but I actually don’t like to write, so I procrastinate.

What is one tip or trick that has helped you that you can share with first-time authors?
Forget about all the rules and write from your heart. Since 1976 I have kept a prayer journal. I’m not writing for anyone and no one has ever seen it. It’s just where I am at that moment with God. I can say things better in writing than I can say verbally so I have used this tool to write from my heart. I encourage all writers to tell the story they’ve experienced and write from their heart.

Who should read this book?
Both Black and Hispanic readers have told me they have received healing by reading this book. One white member of my extended family emailed me when she was just getting into the book and said, “I don’t know why I’m crying, but I can’t read your book without weeping.” Those who have a heart for our nation and/or interested in the political arena will enjoy this book. Also, those who want to know how to pray for our nation will benefit from this book.

Buy the book
You can purchase the paperback or e-book at Amazon.com.

Alice New PicAbout the Author
Alice Patterson, founder and president of Justice at the Gate in San Antonio, Texas, is dedicated to empowering believers through reconciliation and education in God’s presence to impact our nation through prayer and through the power of the ballot. Alice has been involved in the civic arena since 1984 as President of Permian Basin Eagle Forum, Field Director for Texas Christian Coalition and in various political campaigns. In 1996 she founded Pray Texas to encourage pastors to pray and work together for community transformation. She served as the Texas Coordinator for the United States Strategic Prayer Network for 6 years and served on the U.S. Civil Rights Commission State Advisory Committee for 10 years.

Alice has been described as a “divine connector.” She brings pastors and leaders together across denominational, racial and social lines. As the granddaughter of a Ku Klux Klan member, Alice has publicly repented for overt and unconscious racism in the white community. She is working to undo the harm done by her grandfather and others like him. Alice serves as a bridge between Christians of various cultures as well as between the church and the civic arena.

She convened a group of Hispanic leaders to pray and strategize together to form a national Hispanic organization, which led to a meeting of over 700 Hispanic pastors and spouses in Austin with the Governor of Texas. She hosted a summit of 300 African American Pastors and Leaders to meet with the Governor and other elected officials about the plight of Black children in inner city schools. Alice’s heart is to train pastors and leaders in various ethnic communities about how to access governmental power by taking a seat at the decision-making table regardless of political party.

Connect with Alice at www.justiceatthegate.org.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are not constructive and specific to this conversation. If in doubt, read My Comments Policy.