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Posts Tagged ‘Australian novels’

My husband and I can often be found with our noses in a book. Our taste in reading matter is quite different—and it is even more different when it comes to brain teasers, puzzles and the like. While I revel in The Times Big Book of Quick Crosswords, with their almost cryptic challenges and many references to history and literature, my husband loves The Times Super Fiendish Sudoku! Neither of us is in any way tempted to tackle each other’s puzzles—and I would be a dead loss at sudoku anyway!

Twice recently and in very public settings, the different tastes we all have has been brought home to me in no uncertain terms. The first occurred while giving a talk on my writing journey and the books I read during my early years. As soon as I mentioned the Australian novel We of the Never Never by Mrs Aeneas Gunn, a lady right at the front called out loudly with great vehemence.

‘Oh, I hated that book—I absolutely despised it! It was terrible—terrible!’

For a moment, I was floored. How could I pick up momentum after that? In the end, I pointed out how well her comment demonstrated that we all have different tastes and that writers have to let go of the idea that their own wonderful book will please everyone. Even before I had begun speaking that day, I sensed this lady was somewhat antagonistic towards me. Yet now there she was, nodding enthusiastically. Phew!

IMG_20190504_102706212The second occurred during a recent tour of the beautiful, old St Saviour’s Cathedral of the Anglican Diocese of Canberra and Goulburn, considered one of colonial architect Edmund Blacket’s greatest achievements and a fine example of the decorated Gothic style. Our group listened attentively as our guide pointed out various interesting aspects about the cathedral, such as its huge, marble font, its massive pipe organ, the wonderful stained-glass windows featuring the twelve apostles, and the bishop’s chair, the tallest in the southern hemisphere, intricately carved from oak. I myself was in awe of the skills of all those craftsmen who had laboured over each beautiful piece and whose work had stood the test of time. But then I noticed some of our group frowning and whispering together.

‘It’s all lovely, but imagine what it cost to build! And imagine how much all the upkeep costs now. It’s such a waste really,’ I heard one of them say, as she shook her head.

I could see her point—after all, there is so much need everywhere in the world around us. Yet I could also appreciate how those craftsmen must have wanted to create this beautiful building and all it contains to honour God and enable others to worship.

What would your response have been?

Yes, we are all different, with different tastes, different abilities, different priorities in life and often different ways of worshipping God too. May we learn to celebrate these, as we serve God in our own unique way and faithfully do the things God has called us to do!

There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men. 1 Corinthians 12:4-6

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I almost didn’t go to the meeting that day. It was on the other side of Sydney and I was tired. Yet, I loved the women I knew would be present. They are all very committed Christian leaders from different denominations who are doing amazing things in our city and nation and even internationally. I knew I would come home inspired, so off I went.

After arriving, I chatted with several women sitting nearby and was interested to hear the main speaker, but felt too tired to engage in any deep conversation as we later mingled over lunch. I was happy to stand back and observe, until a friend noticed me and announced: ‘Oh, I was just talking about you and your books yesterday to a friend!’ However tired I was, I couldn’t let an intriguing statement like that go, so enquired further.

It turned out her friend is the librarian at a large Christian school. While chatting at a swimming carnival, my friend had mentioned she knew me. Her librarian friend had then told her they had had trouble getting copies of my books for their library.

If anything is destined to grab my attention, it is a comment like that. You see, while bookstores might run out of copies of my books or decide not to stock them, I always have adequate supplies. How frustrating it is then when I hear that potential customers can’t source them! I therefore hastily asked my friend the librarian’s name so I could contact her and let her know her quest was over.

On arriving home, I decided to email her straight away, despite my tiredness, explaining how my books are available via my website and that I would also be happy to visit her school. I prayed something would come of our contact, but admittedly not with any great confidence.

The next day, I received an urgent email from a minister’s wife from the other side of town. She had chosen to review one of my novels at a women’s breakfast that coming weekend. She had tried to get hold of twenty copies to sell there but the bookstore had sent her the wrong book and had none of the right book in stock anyway. Did I have the copies she needed, she asked.

Later that day, she phoned. I had offered to take the books to her workplace and soon discovered this was at the same school as the librarian whom I had previously emailed.

‘That’s how I knew to contact you,’ she told me. ‘I was telling the staff about my dilemma when the other librarian mentioned your email to her.’

In the end, I was invited to attend the women’s breakfast myself, talk about my own book, then sell them! And I did—nineteen copies of that particular novel, plus a few others. All this came about because I ‘happened’ to go to a meeting I almost backed out of and ‘happened’ to talk with a friend there who had ‘happened’ to speak to her librarian friend who ‘happened’ to be able to tell her colleague I had supplies of my books!

Do you think God had a hand in all this? I do! After all, in Isaiah 55:8-9, God tells us:

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.

“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

I’d rather have God’s thoughts and God’s ways any day, wouldn’t you?

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If there’s one thing I have a slight reputation for, it is being a bit of a workaholic. Now I don’t always see that, but I must admit that when I get my teeth into a job, I do like to finish it. Why leave things half done? Why not have the satisfaction of seeing a job completed and knowing you have done your best? Not that I’m a perfectionist or anything – but that’s another label altogether!

I’ve discovered in my writing journey in particular, that being a workaholic can come in very handy at times. In the past few weeks, I have been working on re-editing not one but two of my manuscripts. A potential publisher suggested both needed quite extensive revision, which caused my heart to sink at first. But then my fighting spirit cut in – for a while at least – and I decided I would do it, come what may! I managed to knock over one revision, but not far into the next, I received various forms from the publisher to complete, which took me many hours all up. Now I knew this information was needed, yet I found I wasn’t quite in the right headspace for such tasks. My mind was still in my novel, trying to work out how to put the required changes in place. By this time, I had again become well and truly embroiled in the lives of my characters, wanting to do justice to them and not mess around too much with their thoughts or words or emotions. So I began grumbling. Were these changes really necessary? Would my potential readers care – or even notice – if I left things as they were?

Right at that point, an even worse thought snuck up on me. What if I do all this work and one of these manuscripts or – horror of horrors – maybe even both are rejected by my potential publisher? What about all the hours I will have wasted, not to mention the emotional energy expended, trying to work out how to put things better?

And then I read Colossians 3:23-24:

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord and not for men, since you know that you will receive and inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

Straight away, this made a big difference to my attitude. You see, these words caused me to step back and remind myself of the bigger picture. I believe God called me to write – and I believe God can touch people’s lives through my books. In essence, I am not working for any particular potential publisher or any editor. I am working for the Lord. And that changes my perspective entirely.

But these words and the timing of my reading them also reminded me that God knows about all this editing and is right in it with me. And one special, delicious little touch that shows me this is that the novel I am editing is entitled – wait for it – The Inheritance! Now I know Paul is talking in this verse about our heavenly inheritance. Nevertheless, I like to think these words are a lovely, gentle, humorous promise from God about my own novel as well.

What do you think? Do these words of Paul’s change your attitude to work?

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