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Posts Tagged ‘fiction versus non-fiction’

P1040079I shocked someone last week by telling them I am usually reading three or four books at any given time.

‘Doesn’t that spoil the whole experience?’ this person asked. ‘And don’t you get mixed up?’

All I can say is it works for me. You see, it all depends on what I feel like reading. If my brain is alert, I will choose a ‘meatier’ non-fiction book such as the one I have just finished—The Discerning Heart by Wilkie and Noreen Au. I loved the many wise insights it contained about the ways God guides us.

If I am a little less alert, I might want to read something that will still give me food for thought but is slightly less ‘meaty’. At the moment, that book for me is Grace for the Good Girl by Emily P Freeman—one I have picked up and put down many times, probably because, although easy to read, it still packs quite a punch!

Then, when I am too tired for non-fiction, it’s time for a novel. Currently, I’m reading Sensible Shoes by Sharon Garlough Brown, which deals with the spiritual journeys of four women at a retreat centre. But sometimes a novel like this that contains much food for thought is not what I need. So I turn to something lighter, which at the moment is an Ellis Peters mediaeval ‘whodunnit’ featuring Brother Cadfael!

Yet, at the risk of sound trite and obvious, nothing beats my worn, old Bible for me. Whatever my mood and however tired I am, there is always some treasure waiting there in its pages. Today I read Matthew 9, where Jesus goes to see a ruler’s sick daughter in her home. For me, there was something so uplifting and encouraging about the calm, authoritative way Jesus acted here:

When Jesus entered the ruler’s house and saw the flute players and the noisy crowd. He said “Go away. The girl is not dead but asleep.” But they laughed at him. After the crowd had been put outside, he went in and took the girl by the hand, and she got up. (9:23-25)

Despite the mocking of the grieving, noisy crowd, Jesus went ahead and brought that girl back to life. If Jesus can do that, I found myself thinking, surely he can deal with the relatively small concerns in my life with the same power and love and authority, as I look to him. And surely I too can minister with more of that same power and authority as I rely on God’s Spirit at work in and through me. One little passage of Scripture—yet it contained, for me, both great comfort and strong empowerment.

Yes, I confess I am an incorrigible bookworm. I have enjoyed and learnt much from reading a wide variety of books over the years. And many of their authors, no doubt inspired by the Spirit, have ministered to me deeply. I know too there are many more books out there for me to explore—I keep a ‘wish list’ of those I would like to own one day. On top of that, I even write my own! But that tattered, old Bible of mine still wins hands down. And somehow I think it always will.

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This past week, I achieved a couple of ‘firsts’ again for me. I gave the final of ten talks I had agreed to give at various venues during May—a record number for me all in one month. And I also completed the final few edits of my next novel, The Inheritance.

Now I am so grateful for those ten speaking opportunities—I loved them all. I even look forward to more in the coming months. But it has felt at times a bit like a mini-marathon, as I have juggled preparation and editing. I completed the original version The Inheritance in May 2011, so it has been in my mind for a while—even through the writing and eventual release of my first non-fiction work, Soul Friend, last August. But now I again have a clean writing slate, so to speak. At last I am again on the brink of being able to dive in to another whole project—and that can be a heart-stopping moment, I’ve discovered.

You see, in one way, the possibilities are endless—almost overwhelmingly so. Of course, one key decision I need to make is whether to plunge into writing a second work of non-fiction or to opt for a seventh novel. Which should it be? I have ideas for both. In fact, I have the outlines or general concepts for three more novels already saved on my computer, each very different from the other. How do I decide?

And it’s at this point that, despite all those ideas running around in my head, I can hear that doubting little voice whispering away as well. What makes you think you can come up with yet another book? None of those plots you’ve already thought out are any good. Anyway, it will be such hard work—and you don’t have the time, in the midst of preparing for speaking engagements. As for another non-fiction book, what on earth would you say that hasn’t already been said? I know from past experience this is the enemy using my old self-doubt, so I close my ears to it all. But on it goes.

I turn to the Scriptures, wondering what God has to say to me today. I am excited, as I always am, when it’s time to begin reading a different book in the Bible—and today I am about to start John’s Gospel yet again. I read that first chapter and am reminded that God, ‘the Word’, created all things, that in him was life and that this life brought great light to men, overcoming and confounding the darkness. I read on and take in the mind-boggling fact that ‘The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth’ (Jn 1:14).

I remember that the Spirit of this ‘One and Only lives in me right now, inspiring me, encouraging me, dispelling the darkness of doubt and fear. I know, as I listen to that voice that is so full of grace and truth, it will become clear which of those endless possibilities I am to pursue. The Word is with me and in me, shaping my own words. And I am so blessed.

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