ACW

ACW

Monday, 22 June 2015

No Half Measures - Marion Stroud


At the recent MAIEastern European Publisher’s Forum, I attended a session for writers, led by the novelist Steve Lawhead and his wife Alice. In their introduction Alice told us of the time when they had been to a Writers Conference in America. The speaker in the last session was both tired and nervous.
‘Have we got the volume right?’ he queried adjusting his microphone for the tenth time.
‘Louder’ came a shout from the back row of the raked seating.
‘Funnier’ suggested an attendee nearer the front.
The harassed speaker tried to regain control. ‘In our final session, we’re going to consider how we can make our writing more culturally appropriate , fresher and ...
His ‘demob happy’ audience pelted him with suggestions..
‘Newer’ ‘Lighter’ ‘Wilder’ ‘Bolder’ ‘Stronger’ ‘Amazing-er’ I think the poor man retired in confusion at that point!
A funny story to relax us and break the ice that morning. But it made a very important point. As writers it is so easy to stick to what we know and what we can do with comparative ease. If a project requires a lot of research, it is so tempting to say ‘I’ve got a track record for writing about X or Y. I’ll stick with what I know.’  Or within our particular genre to produce a competent piece of work,'good enough', rather than approaching it in a new way or polishing our words until they sing.
Do you remember that widow whose story is told in the biblical book 2 Kings 4: 1-7?  She was destitute and her two sons were at risk of being taken away as slaves. The only saleable thing she had left was a flask of olive oil. Elisha told her to assemble as many different containers as she could lay her hands on. Not just the ones that she had in the house, but going out to friends and neighbours and getting the largest collection together that she could.
Embarrassing to bother her neighbours? Perhaps. Risking rejection? Possibly. Hard and heavy work to carry these jars and bottles home? Certainly! But she did it. And behind closed doors the oil kept flowing until every vessel was full.  She then had plenty of oil to sell and pay her debts, her sons were spared, and she had enough money left over to live on.
Higher, Deeper, Bigger Truer, Funnier – what new aspect of your writing, your w.i.p and your approach to it will you explore this summer? Where could you find a fresh perspective on the familiar, a new idea, a brighter vision, a funnier angle, a fellow writer to help or an approach that requires you to think things through from first principles?
Will you be content to fill up one flask of oil or keep going until every possible container is full to overflowing?

Jeremiah puts God's view of the power of words and our use of them like this. In the Message Translation we read "Use words truly and well. Don't stoop to cheap whining. Then, but only then, you'll speak for Me. Let your words change THEM. Don't change your words to suit them."Jeremiah 15:19 (or 20)-21
Marion Stroud has tried her hand at many things in the writing realm, having written twenty six books, some of which have been translated into 14 languages. Her two most recent books are 'Dear God It's Me and It's Urgent' and 'It's Just you and Me Lord', books of prayers for women, both published by Monarch in the UK and Discovery House in the USA. She writes Bible reading notes for Our Daily Bread and is represented by Mary Keeley of Books & Such Literary Management. Learn more about her on her website www.marionstroud.com

8 comments:

  1. Thanks for this, Marion. I think it's good to challenge ourselves to explore new possibilities and develop different skills...although I sometimes feel as if I've got lots of jars with dribbly bits in the bottom, and I can't quite work out how to fill them!

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    1. i know how you feel Fiona! some people say you should focus on what you're good at/gifted at and do it well, while others say 'if you never try new things you won't know!

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  2. Great post, Marion. You've been an inspiration to so many over the years.

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  3. Nice post - it lifted my mood after struggling with a difficult chapter all weekend. Made me feel like doing something different too.

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    1. So glad it cheered you up. let us know if you come up with a new concept!

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  4. That's very inspiring and what I needed to read. Thank you.

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