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Posts Tagged ‘speaker’

Yes, I was asked this question last week – although it wasn’t worded exactly that way! It occurred during a conversation with our four-year-old granddaughter and went something like this:

Olivia:    ‘Nanna, do you work?’

Nanna: ‘Yes … I work right here at home. I sit here at my computer and write my books – that’s my work.’

Olivia:    ‘No, but do you go out to work like other people?’

Nanna: ‘Well, I don’t go out to work – but I still work!’

My answers didn’t seem to satisfy our granddaughter. Obviously in her mind her Nanna didn’t have a ‘real’ job at all. Yet she isn’t alone in her opinion, I’ve discovered. Some time back, I was asked another similarly intriguing question:

‘We know you write, but what do you do?’

And then there was the form I had to fill out recently that asked about my employment status. Am I self-employed? Well … yes. Do I work fulltime or part-time? Hmmm! Why is there never a category for more than fulltime, which is where writers who spend many long hours at the keyboard would fit?

In her book ‘Walking on Water’, American author Madeleine L’Engle describes a ‘New Yorker’ cartoon depicting a woman opening the door to welcome a friend to her house. The friend notices a man there working at a typewriter, with a large manuscript piled on the desk beside him. The friend then asks, ‘Has your husband found a job yet? Or is he still writing?’ I am left wondering exactly how the woman responded! Madeleine L’Engle also tells the story of a businesswoman who asked her about her royalties, at a time when she was at last doing quite well in that regard. When told this, the businesswoman remarked, ‘And to think most people would have had to work so hard for that!’

So where does this leave me? Well, I could sit here feeling sorry for myself, as I put all my heart and mind and soul into preparing four talks I am scheduled to give in the next four weeks and simultaneously try to write my current novel and plan out a workshop. I could nurture great resentment at the lack of understanding out there and the devaluing of the whole creative process in general. I could try to be superwoman and prove myself on all fronts, looking for a ‘real job’ to hold down while I seek to produce my next ‘great Australian novel’. Or I could simply laugh it off, knowing my granddaughter at least couldn’t be expected to understand, and develop a thicker skin about it all.

But I believe there’s an even more positive way forward. I believe I need to remind myself that God has called me to spend these long hours writing and preparing talks and that I need to be faithful in responding to that call. I need to view this vocation of author and speaker as an absolute privilege – one in which, after all, I get to be ‘me’ and feel completely fulfilled, whatever the tangible rewards or lack thereof. I need to remember to throw myself into it all with a full and grateful heart, as Paul reminds us:

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. (Colossians 3:23-24)

So whether we have a ‘real job’ or not, let’s remember our ‘audience of one’ and perform our hearts out with great thankfulness!

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It happened to me just last week.  It was not long after breakfast and I was mentally planning out a nice, quiet writing day, when the phone rang.  The scheduled speaker at a meeting that very morning where eighty to ninety people would be present had had to cancel out.  Could I possibly speak instead?

Well, in the end I said I could.  After all, I did have a talk I had given at a similar venue.  Besides, it would obviously help out the organisers of the event.  So, after gathering my notes and books together and quickly getting dressed, I was off.

When I arrived, the group co-ordinator could not get over the fact I had actually made it and was prepared to speak at such short notice.  It was truly weird, she kept saying – quite bizarre, in fact – as if there was a reason behind it!  You see, only the previous day I had emailed the organisation, telling them I was available for speaking engagements in 2010, if they wished to invite me.  It had been around a year since I had last spoken at one of their meetings, so I assumed they must have enough speakers.  Either that – or I wasn’t quite what they wanted!  I had almost talked myself out of emailing, when suddenly I felt had to go ahead anyway.  They could only say thanks, but no thanks.  Imagine my surprise then, when the very next morning, after not hearing for a whole year, I was contacted to speak!

So … if I’d left it one more day before emailing, I would have been too late to help out.  If my email hadn’t been opened just before the frantic phone call was received, they would not have remembered I was still around.  If I’d had another appointment that day, I would have had to say no.  If I’d lived any further away, I wouldn’t have made it in time.  Could it be that God did indeed have a particular reason for my being there that morning?

Well, I duly spoke and sold a few of my novels, but it was the conversations that took place afterwards that were particularly significant.  I shared from the heart – and I hope my words encouraged those who shared equally from their own hearts about their struggles.  In the end, I went away so thankful for the unexpected privilege my morning had held.  I may never know the outcome, but I firmly believe that, by God’s grace, I was in the right place at the right time.  I was where God wanted me to be, doing what God wanted me to do – and that’s all that matters in the end, don’t you think?

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