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Posts Tagged ‘Ecclesiastes’

At times, walking into bookstores can be a bit daunting for authors. There are just so many books out there already other than our own. Perhaps the writer of Ecclesiastes knew something way back around the tenth century BC when he declared: Of making many books there is no end … (Ecc 12:12). So why am I trying so hard to add to their number? Well, there are several answers I could give, some more noble than others. Take self-interest, for example. It is definitely gratifying to see my very own books on the shelves and to have people buy and enjoy them. But if that were all there is to it, then I suspect the novelty would soon wear off.

For me, my main motivation is that I believe God has called and gifted me to write. And as I pursue that call, I have found that writing for me is utterly liberating and fulfilling. Yes, it has its testing times and frustrating days, but it also has the power to make me feel fully alive. And just when it threatens to become that little bit too difficult, God specialises, I’ve discovered, in sending unique morsels of encouragement my way.

A few days ago, my son handed me two large boxes with the comment ‘Happy Christmas!’ Inside were two long awaited Braille copies of my third novel ‘Laura’, which tells the story of a girl who is blind. My son was simply delivering them to me from a friend who had persevered over many months in arranging the transcription of my manuscript into Braille, for which I feel so indebted. I had promised another friend who originally inspired this novel that I would try to get a Braille copy for her – and I can now fulfil that promise. And this also enables me to lend the second copy to others who have enquired – like a contact who wanted a friend who is both deaf and blind to be able to read it.

Then this very same week, I also received the news that the dedicated workers at Christian Blind Mission in Melbourne have now completed the narration and recording of each of my first three novels – ‘Heléna’, ‘All the Days of My Life’ and ‘Laura’! This means my books are now available in Daisy/MP3 format for anyone with a print disability to borrow from CBM’s audio library (see www.cbm.org.au). I am so delighted that those for whom reading books such as mine would have been a huge challenge, if not an impossibility, are now able to access and enjoy them.

In all of this, I am reminded of the words of 1 Peter 4:10:

Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.

That’s what I believe I am called and privileged to do – to be faithful in allowing God’s grace to bless others through my books. That’s why I write. Yes, there may be many and much better novels out there already, but God has a plan and a purpose for mine as well, I believe. Even – or perhaps especially – for those who are visually impaired.

I am humbled by that – and so grateful.

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My eyes are bulging. My shoulders are aching. Everywhere I look I see words in front of my eyes.  You see, I am almost at the end of a final edit of my fourth novel ‘Jenna’ before it is published next month by Ark House Press.

My editor has worked hard on the manuscript too, typing her suggestions in red. My job has been to check all these and change them into black if I agree with her suggestions. But it is often not as straightforward as that. If I want to change anything else or give an alternative to her changes, then I am to type in bold blue.

Now on some pages there is a veritable ‘sea’ of bold blue – especially at the beginning, where I have written a whole new first chapter and altered the second to tie in with it. What will my editor make of all these changes, I wonder? After all, she has already thrown some ‘curly ones’ at me. For example, which is correct – ‘She was one of the few who were still single’ – or ‘She was one of the few who was still single’? And what about the phrase ‘for a while’? Should it be written ‘for awhile’ instead? Is ‘any more’ written as two words or one? And is it better to use double quotation marks around direct speech, with single quotation marks for anything else needing quotation marks within those – or vice versa?

All these things are important, I guess. But in the end, how many people will notice? More than that, how many people will really care?  Of course it’s hugely important to write an interesting beginning for a novel – after all, I might lose my readers before they even get past the first page! But in the end, it may simply come down to a matter of preference.  So how much more time and effort should I put into playing with the words on the screen before me, putting them this way and that, cutting some out and adding others in? I guess until I’m sure that what I have written will draw people into the story and not inhibit their experience or enjoyment of it in any way. I know, as the writer of Ecclesiastes puts it, that ‘of making many books there is no end’ (Ecc 12:12), but ‘Jenna’ is my novel!  I believe in its potential to challenge people and change lives – in short, it has important things to say.  ‘Jenna’ is my ‘baby’ – and I want to see her brought through this birthing process with the minimum of pain or damage to both of us!

I also believe with all my heart that God has called me to write at this stage of my life – so if that involves hours and hours of editing and rewriting, then so be it! The birthing process is never without pain – and my eyes will no doubt eventually recover.  Besides, Jesus told us the path would not be easy, didn’t he? In John 16:33b we read these words:

In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.

I know Jesus is right there beside me with every word I write – or edit out. And he will help me, whatever the challenge – he has overcome the whole world, as he has said!  So I will ‘take heart’. I will turn on my computer yet again and apply myself to the task before me. And in a few weeks’ time, God willing, I will joyfully welcome ‘Jenna’ into the world!

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