The Finishing Touch of The Art of Wisdom
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. —Philippians 4:5–6
Each day when I sit down to write, I say a prayer to set my heart and my mind on things above so that the Lord can accomplish his work through me. When it came time to start the publishing aspects of The Art of Wisdom, I definitely needed his direction. I lacked a vision for the look and feel of the book. Writing a book is one thing, publishing it is another. One adds content, the other a finishing touch. Together they make a great product.
The first inspiration came when my husband and I visited a church to support a friend who is the pastor. As we sat in the foyer before the service, a coffee-table book titled The Acts of the Apostles lay on a shelf near us. Because of my memorization of the book of Acts, curiosity got the better of me and I had to pick it up and open it. After flipping through a few pages, I said to my husband, “I love the size of this book.” Before I knew it, my husband had ordered it for me and it became the creative influence for The Art of Wisdom, a 12x9 inch coffee-table book.
Because of prayer, my eyes were open to see what was around me.
Next, I, with the help of a girlfriend, needed to delve into the layout for each proverb’s story, photo, and riddle. I prayed that morning before we met up: “Lord, may this time be fruitful. May you show us how the book is to be laid out.” After assessing The Acts of the Apostles, we collaborated together and finished the mock-up in less than two hours. However, when showing this publishing finishing touch to a few people, some didn’t like the picture bleeding off each right-side of the page.
So, I returned to prayer. “Lord, is this really what you want? If so, please let me know why?” I cannot say I heard his voice directly, but my heart did find peace in the months that followed. What I had come to learn is that the layout of text, images, and white space is its own form of art. Consider our placement of the pictures in The Art of Wisdom, the book design can hold a riddle, too. Notice the placement of the pictures. Pictures for the odd-numbered proverbs align within the margins. Pictures for the even-numbered proverbs bleed off the page. The former resembles the wise person who lives within the boundaries of the Lord; the latter resembles fools who go astray and make their own way. Not only do the stories communicate how we make wise and foolish choices, the picture displays do also.
Because of prayer, I gained insight and understanding.
As part of the book design, the publisher also chooses the combination of fonts and type styles. One particular choice caused me pause: the typeface for the penetrating question directed at the reader at the end of each proverb story. First Kings 19 came to mind. Elijah went to Horeb, the mountain of God, where a great and powerful wind came. The Lord was not in the wind, nor was he in the earthquake or the fire that followed. But he was in the gentle whisper. Elijah needed the whisper to turn around and head back the way he came.
In turn, we avoided bold black letters (representing the power of the wind, earthquake, and fire) and opted for a light gray italic font, a whisper to gently turn readers around when they have chosen to follow a foolish path. These questions then become welcoming and completive, not accusatory or critical.
Because of prayer, we acquired a sensitivity for others.
When it came time to work on the book cover–the publishing task that caused me the greatest anxiety–I had to pray. A good cover generates wonder and causes a person to stop and open the book. An added dimension came with The Art of Wisdom being a coffee-table book: living room decor. The cover needed to invite, inspire, and harmonize with the room. Who would display a book that clashed with their home’s interior? “Lord, will you create the masterpiece. We have so many thoughts and ideas. Direct us.”
As my girlfriend and I finally sat at the computer to design the cover, we implemented none of our former ideas. Instead, we constructed something totally different. We made two designs, actually, each holding a riddle for living out proverbs. We sent out the mock-up designs, asking for feedback. Overwhelmingly the picture with the sea, rock, and timepiece won. Some comments were:
A. “The colors are lovely, the title stands out, and the picture is intriguing but hopeful.”
B. “It has a sense of mystery with the distant shoreline and perhaps a sense of curiosity or discovery.”
C. “I’m drawn to the light colors and photograph of the landscape, which intrigues me and generates curiosity around the title and content of the book. And from what I know, I believe the color blue represents thoughtfulness and calm.”
Because of prayer, I had confidence of God’s hand in this design—and confirmation, too.
My final prayer for the publishing touches for The Art of Wisdom happened when I received the printer’s pre-production sample for approval. “Lord, is this how you want the book to be presented?” Hours passed as I became uneasy about the white endsheets (the inside pages attached to the cover). I had wanted colored ones but could never settle on a color, so I left them white. Now I needed the courage to ask for this change. Due to time restraints, my choice was limited to only white and charcoal gray. With certainty I said, “Let’s do the charcoal gray.” I got off the phone and cringed. I hate gray—it’s never been a favorite color. Then a thought came to me: between the gray areas of life, wisdom can always be found. The Lord knew I would never have picked gray if given multiple choices, so he put me in a place where I would.
Because of prayer, what I hated became what I love.
One might say that the finishing touches of The Art of Wisdom is in publishing. But because of this journey, I would say that the finishing touch of The Art of Wisdom has been prayer. Prayer for eyes to be open, for insight, for a heart of others, to see his hand at work, and to change what one hates to what one loves.
Tammy Lea Fabian
President of Time in the Desert, LLC
Author of The Art of Wisdom
 All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©2011 by Biblica, Inc.™