“Have you ever heard of Robert Benson?” This question was posed to me in a recent conversation with Gloria Penwell, the Assistant Director of the CLASS Writers Contreat. Gloria had just returned from an event where Benson had spoken on his book, Dancing on the Head of a Pen. She was quite excited about this book. I made a mental note to get a copy and then properly filed it. You know what I mean.
Robert Benson’s name was not new to me. I was first introduced to Robert and his writing when speaking at Ann Downing’s Middle Tennessee Women’s Retreat many years ago. Presenting on the same program was a delightful southern lady, Peggy Benson. Miss Peggy, as she was lovingly called, spoke with pride as she told me about her children. “And my son, Robert, is a writer,” she said. And indeed, he was and still is. He has written nearly twenty books, many on the topics of prayer and spiritual formation. A number of these books reside in my personal library. So one would think I would run right out to get a copy of his latest book on writing, but this was not the case.
Then one day a couple of weeks ago I had reason to be at our local Christian book store and there it sat, right in front of my face and my feeble mind reminded me of Gloria’s words. “You’ve got to read it.” So I took a copy home. That evening I climbed into my favorite chair with a cup of cinnamon tea and began to read and I didn’t stop until I came to the last period on the last page.
Like most of Benson’s books, Dancing on the Head of a Pen is filled with wit and wisdom, brilliantly woven together with stories and quotes. Peppered with personal anecdotes that perfectly exemplify the writer’s life, the challenges, the doubts, the joys and the triumphs, this book also leads the reader on a spiritual quest. It made me ask some hard questions.
But Benson does not just write to entertain or inspire, or even to provoke us spiritually. This book is like a toolbox for writers. It is filled with practical helps. Some of these were new concepts to me, others new twists on old philosophies. All were tried and true ideas based on Benson’s personal experience and that of other writing colleagues.
Reading a Robert Benson book is very much like taking a long walk with a good friend or sitting at the neighborhood coffee shop over a latte. You feel comfortable with the conversation as you discover that you have much in common and he has much to share. This book is no different.
It the responsibility of a writer is to open the world, or at least some small part of it, for others to see, Robert Benson’s Dancing on the Head of a Pen does this beautifully. And like Gloria Penwell said, “You’ve got to read it.”
To get your own copy of Benson’s Dancing on the Head of a Pen, click on the image below.