Sunday, 20 November 2016

Bread upon the waters by Sue Russell

Like, I suspect, many of the readers of this blog, I am prone to discouragement. I have probably complained before (these things don't go away) that the writer's life involves hard work while offering little visible fruit, but is also a compulsion that can only be resisted at the price of misery. It feels like Hobson's choice - which, I find, originated from a horse-keeper in Cambridge who would lend out the horse nearest to the stable door or no horse at all. So I have to keep on doing it, (and trying to get better at it, and making efforts to reach a wider readership), or else give it up as a waste of time and suffer.
Sometimes, though, there comes a tiny insight that leavens the general gloom: nothing very profound, indeed, probably quite hackneyed - but often enough a cliche is a cliche because it strikes a lot of people as true.
On a shopping trip recently with my good friend and writing buddy Claire (C.F.Dunn, author of the acclaimed series The Secret of the Journal) we were talking about how we had first learned to love stories, how we had first come to know and love Jesus, and about the people who had been formative in these very important things in our lives. We are also both keen on plants and gardens so thoughts of seed-sowing came up quite naturally.
In this uncertain world, knowing nothing of the future or the potential impact of our work, I suppose that is all we can do - sow seeds in faith, and leave the harvest to God. With actual plants I have no problem with this notion. In my garden in France I have planted a red oak. It's only about three feet tall, but its leaves are bigger than the palm of my hand, and when I last saw them they were a deep red.  One day, if the weather allows and nobody comes along and chops it down, it will be an enormous tree; but that will take many years, and by then I will be dust and atoms. I don't mind this one bit, so why can I not with equal serenity accept that the words I write may not bear fruit in the time-frame I would like, or even in my lifetime, or possibly not at all in a way I can recognise?
Ecclesiastes 11 verse 1 (depending on your translation) tells us, 'Cast your bread upon the waters, for you shall find it after many days.' Perhaps I should stop muttering sourly, 'Yes, too many, and I'll be dead by then,' and home in instead on the promise: ' shall find it.' In 1 Corinthians 15 verse 58 we are told, 'Keep busy always in your work for the Lord, since you know that nothing you do in the Lord's service is ever useless.'
Have I convinced myself yet? Maybe - till the next time!

Sue writes as S.L.Russell and has published five novels from a Christian viewpoint, available in the usual places as paperbacks and e books. A sixth should make its appearance some time next year. She blogs at


  1. Yesterday I saw two people with an oak tree in a pot, which they were loading into a trailer. I overheard tham explaining that after 8 years it was too big for their garden. I wonder where it was going...
    I think we all need encouragement to press on with our writing. And to get it published in some shape or form. Sue

  2. Happily our garden in France should be big enough to accommodate the red oak! (Plus all the other trees we've planted.)Thanks for your comment.

  3. John Milton wrote a poem to commemorate Hobson (with puns such as 'his wain was his increase'). I'm not sure how relevant that is, except that I don't suppose Hobson expected to be commemorated in verse.

  4. Enjoyed reading this, Sue. I often feel like this, so could identify.