Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘story’

How many things are you able to focus on at the same time? Are you expert at juggling any number of balls and not dropping a single one? Or are you a little like I was yesterday when I tried to answer a question at the same time as signing one of my books? Much to my embarrassment, I made a mistake writing my own name!

Right now, however, my writing challenge is a little bigger than spelling my own name correctly. Recently I reached that delightful stage yet again of checking through two different novels at the same time, while also planning out my next book, writing blogs and preparing talks.

So why edit two novels simultaneously? Well, it so happens that, having just handed my sixth novel over to one of my expert manuscript readers to check, I needed to consider her comments carefully and put the relevant changes in place. Then last week, my publisher emailed me the print-ready version of my fifth novel, ‘Heléna’s Legacy’, due for release next month, for one final check before going to print. My challenge then is to remember who is who in each novel and also what these characters did along the way. And all the while I will have to guard against thinking ‘No, this character wouldn’t have said this or that – it’s all wrong!’ and wanting to change things drastically, only to realise I have a different character from my more recent novel in mind.

But I’m also into planning my seventh book – this time a work of non-fiction. I know I have to get moving on this, if it is going to see the light of day within the next two or three years. Yet my weekly blogs are also important to me – and of course I always want to prepare well for each speaking engagement.

And that’s one reason I’m in awe of our amazing God, the Creator and Sustainer of the whole universe, who is all-powerful, all-knowing and present in all places – who is in fact the ultimate ‘multi-tasker’! Our God, the Alpha and Omega, was there at the beginning of all things and will still be there at the very end, as Revelation 21:6 tells us. And in those intervening millennia, God has watched over his people, and will continue to watch over us all at one and the same time. Unlike me, God does not get mixed up and forget us, his ‘characters’, or the stories of our lives. In Luke 12:6-7, we read Jesus’ own words to his disciples:

Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God, Indeed the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

I’m so glad that while God is busy looking after you, the same is true for me! I’m so glad that while God is shaping the story of my life in a way that is unique and just right for me, this same God is concurrently writing yours. And I’m so glad that, in God’s perfect author hands, all of these stories will flow well, deal with all the devious twists and turns of the plot along the way and reach their desired conclusion in a most satisfactory manner. We are worth more than sparrows to God. We are not forgotten.

Now that’s some multi-tasking, don’t you think?

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Last Tuesday I was walking through Belmore Park in Sydney with a friend on our way to an important meeting, when we noticed a high school student carrying a whole basket of brightly coloured origami paper cranes. We wondered what she might be planning to do with them, but as we walked a little further, we came across a large group of students with several baskets of cranes lined up along the walkway through the park. In front of each was a box for donations and a sign explaining this was part of the ‘Cranes for Hope’ project of the young people of Sydney to make 10,000 paper cranes and in this way raise at least $10,000 for the earthquake victims of Japan.

It was a beautiful, sunny day and we were early for our meeting. So we spent some time delving through the baskets, finding different coloured cranes and ones made of pretty, patterned paper. We bought quite a few – we wanted to support this project and also encourage the friendly students. But there was more behind our interest as well – and that involves two more stories.

Many of you may already know the story of the young Japanese girl Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes and the book of that title written by Eleanor Coerr. Sadako Sasaki developed leukemia as a result of radiation from the atomic bomb that fell on Hiroshima during World War Two. While in hospital, she decided to make a thousand little paper cranes, since according to a Japanese saying, this meant any wish she made would be granted. Her wish was to live, but she died after having made only 644, so her friends and family finished the project on her behalf. Today, there is a statue of Sadako in Hiroshima Peace Park, holding a golden origami crane and on the statue are the words: ‘This is our cry. This is our prayer. Peace on earth.

But my second story is just as moving, in my opinion. You see, five years ago, my friend’s daughter passed away – we were actually on our way to attend a meeting linked to this sad event. At the time, her daughter had a Japanese penfriend who, on hearing her Australian friend was ill, decided to make a thousand paper cranes and send them to her. I was present at my friend’s place the day they arrived – some time after her daughter had passed away. It was such a touching gift, conveying as it did this Japanese friend’s love through the hours she had spent making the little origami birds, not knowing her penfriend had already passed away. And to this day, the paper crane remains a symbol in my friend’s family of their beautiful daughter, for all the love they had for each other and all she stood for.

Can you imagine how blown away we were to come across these baskets of paper cranes then on our very way to our important meeting? Surely this was a gracious gift from God to encourage my friend as she prepared for the potentially traumatic meeting ahead. And for me, this reinforced some words I had read in Psalm 46 earlier that morning:

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. … “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

Truly, our God knows and understands our anguish and reaches out constantly to comfort and encourage us. May you find that so true in your own life this day in just the way you need.

Read Full Post »

As a novelist who is constantly trying to grow and learn, I like to read how other authors handle the various challenges the whole writing process brings.  Some write only when they are ‘in the mood’ and the inspiration is flowing.  Others say that if they worked that way, they would never write anything.  These are the more self-disciplined among us – the ones who can set themselves a target of writing so many words per day or per week.  Some are very organised and totally plan out their novel or other work before they start.  Others are what are known as ‘seat of the pants’ writers who have only a vague idea where they are heading when they begin.  And still others like me fall somewhere in between these two extremes.

When I begin a novel, I like to have a clear concept in mind as to what my story is about – what general challenges and joys my main characters will experience and what central issues the story will grapple with.  But I also like to leave room for my characters to develop, to make their own choices as to how they will handle this or that situation or even what sort of a person they will become.  It is an interesting journey, watching these characters grow and change.  As a result, life as an author can be fascinating and exciting – even totally absorbing and energising.

But it’s not always like that, in my experience.  In fact, many days I sit staring at my computer screen, wondering where all that flow of creativity and joy of bringing my characters to life could possibly have gone.  Should I discipline myself on these occasions to write anyway?  Or should I conclude that my ‘writer’s block’ has won out for the moment?

Well, at times I do go off and do something else for a while.  Yet at others, I know I simply have to ‘hang in there’ and push through this difficult stage.  And that’s why some words Paul wrote to the Colossians impacted me recently – words that on the surface seem quite a contradiction.   As Paul is endeavouring with all his might to help believers stand firm in their faith in Jesus Christ and grow in understanding and love for one another, he writes:

We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me (Colossians 1:28-29).

So I get the picture that what Paul was trying to do wasn’t easy.  Yet in the midst of it all, he was being energised by a power beyond himself.  He was definitely ‘struggling’ and putting in a lot of effort of his own, but the energy that sustained him was not his alone.  Instead he was receiving and relying on ‘his’ energy – that is, Jesus Christ’s – to complete the task he had been given.

So on those days when I struggle very much with my writing, I try to keep my eyes on Jesus, knowing he called me to do what I’m doing and will ‘energise’ and empower me to complete it.  God is bigger than any writers’ block – his energy and creativity are inexhaustible!  And I’m so thankful for that.

Read Full Post »

Possibly the only thing I am disappointed about with the study I have finally acquired for myself in our home is the fact that when I look out of the window beside my desk, what meets my eye is the ugly fibro wall of the neighbour’s garage and the paling fence between their property and ours.  Yet this morning, when I looked out, my eyes travelled upwards and I realised I could see the tops of the trees growing in the park on the other side of our neighbour’s house.  And high up in the branches of the tallest tree there I saw two birds.  They were perched precariously on two of the topmost slender branches, seemingly unperturbed by the fact that these branches were swaying markedly as the wind blew them and as they bent under the weight of the birds themselves.

I returned to my Scripture reading for the day and a few moments later read these words from Luke 13:18-19:

What is the kingdom of God like?  What shall I compare it to?  It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his garden.  It grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air perched in its branches.

As I reflected on this, I realised that I can choose to view the words I will write in the hours ahead of me this morning – or any day – as mustard seeds.  I ‘sow’ them, if you like, as I carefully choose which word to use and blend them together with others in whole sentences and paragraphs.  I read and re-read, trying to find the right combination that will convey exactly what I feel needs to be conveyed at that particular point and through that particular character.  Often I end up deleting what I have written and begin to ‘re-plant’, this time in a different way.  All the while, I am hoping that the words I write will combine with the whole, each in their own individual and important way, to form a story fashioned under God’s hand – perhaps even a story that will touch people’s hearts and lives and hopefully bear fruit for the kingdom.  And daily, as my story grows, I continue to craft it and fine hone it, shaping it in the way that best conveys the seeds of truth it contains, as far as I am able.  And as I do, I try to stay close to God, so that God’s very Spirit will somehow draw my readers to find their place in the story.  Perhaps they will rest there for a moment, perching on the branches, as it were, regaining strength and being challenged to spread their wings yet again and continue their own journey of being who God intends them to be for the kingdom. 

The wind is still buffeting that tree I can see from my window, even as I look now.  But the birds are gone.  May you too go out into your world today, strengthened by God to sow whatever ‘mustard seeds’ you have been given.  And may you face whatever you need to with peace, hope and joy, as you seek to play your part in God’s kingdom.

Read Full Post »