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Posts Tagged ‘writing workshops’

Jo 23After writing seven books, one would think I’d know the drill when it comes to my eighth. But no. Instead, I seem to have the knack of forgetting the painful parts of bringing a book into being and remembering only the joy of it all—a little like when having our three children!

So here I was, about a third of the way through editing and re-writing my latest book when I came to a particularly poorly written section. What was I thinking when I wrote those words? What did they add to the storyline? Why would anyone be interested in reading such rubbish anyway? So out these wondrous sentences all went, with one click of that handy delete button on my keyboard.

But that wasn’t the end of it. I began to question more than just a few sentences here and there. I began to question the whole idea of writing a second memoir. Was it worth all the effort I was exerting to polish it up? Would my publisher be interested in it anyway? Would there be a market out there for it?

I was tired. And I had other things to do, such as preparing for some upcoming writing workshops. I had also spoken somewhere the previous day where only a few people turned up. I’m sure God touched those present, but it had required effort on my part and a long drive to be there. I sat at my desk feeling somewhat hard done by, to put it mildly. Was it all worth it?

At that point, I noticed my Bible open beside me. I had not read it that day—I had been too busy editing. I glanced down at that open page and it was then that I saw the heading of the particular section I was to read next in Hebrews:

A Call to Persevere!

I literally felt a slight jolt through my body and almost laughed out loud. How like God to set my thinking straight in such an ‘in your face’ way!

I read on. Yes, I soon realised that Hebrews 10:19-25 deals with the need to hold onto our Christian faith and the hope this gives us and to encourage one another to do the same, right to the very end.

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Heb 10:23-24

So essentially, this passage is not about hanging in there in writing books. But behind those words, by the Spirit’s prompting, I believe I saw and heard the heart of God for me, right where I am now—and for us all. And as my own spirit was encouraged, I began to see things from God’s perspective instead of my own warped and limited one. I began to look at my writing with fresh eyes and to see that yes, perhaps I was saying some worthwhile things after all and perhaps I could polish and fine tune this manuscript as required. I simply needed to persevere. And I know how to do that. I’ve done it before and I can do it again, in God’s strength.

How about you? Do you need a little more God-perspective too?

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I often comment to others how fulfilling it is as a writer to be able to draw on past experiences and past occupations I have had in what I do now. It’s amazing to me how the various strands of our lives are woven together in such unexpected ways at times, as we continue to trust God in every part of our journey. Not only does my past provide ample material for my novels and also the non-fiction I write, but it also pokes its head up in the present in other areas, showing me clearly that God has gone before me and knows a lot more about my life than I do myself.

Last week, I sat down to prepare a workshop I will be taking in October at the Word Writers’ Getaway in Queensland (see www.thewordwriters.com for more information). Since my workshop, Getting in before your editor does, will be two hours long and is, after all, a workshop, I knew I would need to incorporate various exercises for participants to do in our time together. So next came the puzzle of how to balance my input with allowing time for exercises to be completed – and also what type of exercises would be most helpful, given our time constraints. After all, I want this to be a rich learning experience for those who choose to attend this workshop.

Soon my mind was in full swing, as I prepared notes, exercises and a power point presentation—and it was not long before I was enjoying myself immensely! Part of my enjoyment, I realised, stemmed from the fact that I was drawing on skills that had become second nature to me way, way back in my high school teaching years. These same skills had also been accessed, to some degree, in my time as part of a church ministry team when I ran short courses on different aspects of ministry. And on top of that, I was also drawing on lessons learnt from my editing journey with my own and others’ manuscripts in more recent years. So in the midst of my preparation, I took a moment to thank God for the way all these experiences are now bearing fruit in my life, as I endeavour to resource other authors.

And now, as I prepare a seminar I am also presenting, I have found an added reason to be thankful. You see, this seminar is called Writing that irresistible book proposal—definitely a tongue in cheek title! From memory, I reckon I have written somewhere between twenty and twenty-five book proposals in the past few years—and potential publishers or agents have had no trouble in resisting many of them! On the other hand, I have also had six novels and one non-fiction book accepted for publication. So I can draw not only on the positive times when my book proposals have borne fruit, but also on the negative times when all my work seemed to have gone for nothing. To me, this is a further wonderful example of how God weaves everything together and how no experience is wasted—not even those moments of rejection and deep disappointment.

As you look back on your own life, can you see God’s hand at work, weaving those strands together? When you do, may you too be able to say with a thankful heart:

But I trust in you, O Lord; I say, “You are my God.” My times are in your hands … (Psalm 31:14-15)

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