2017 is drawing to a close. Rather than attempt a Christmas-related message, when there are already so many quality ones out there, I thought I would reflect on my writing year, and my first year as an ACW Member. Whilst I know my title is not the catchiest, I hope you’ll bear with me (my frazzled brain has reached a stage where, today, I made coffee and threw the spoon in the bin!) and keep reading, to celebrate with me the huge blessing our humble organisation is to so many of us.
In 2013, I just about figured out how to start a blog, so I could share some poems I had written and post, annually, to commemorate my stillborn baby, Grace. I’ve always felt I should do more with writing but, immersed in family life and a busy teaching job, that’s as far as it went.
But then, at the beginning of this year, I felt a gentle nudge from God to ‘explore writing further’ – that was the exact phrase. So, a bit of tentative midnight-googling later, I was suddenly in possession of some life-changing knowledge – Christian Writing didn’t all happen in America, as my stereotypes had me believing. There was, in fact, an organisation right under my nose, that I had been entirely oblivious to all along. You guessed it…our own, magnificent Association of Christian Writers!
I received my first magazine and read it from cover to cover. Newly in possession of the knowledge that there was a Christian Writers’ Monthly Group, just half an hour from my doorstep, I wondered: would I be brave enough to send off an enquiring e-mail? Beyond that, would I be brave enough to actually go?! The rest was history, as they say, and so it was, on the last day of January, that my Sat Nav led me to a lovely, old house, at the end of a long, winding driveway. I knocked nervously on the door.
Fast forward a couple of hours and I came out, buzzing. The people I had met were inspiring and lovely. Collectively, they had an impressive number of accolades to their name, from poetry books, through Christian media, to full-blown published novels. Yet, as I introduced myself as “not really a writer…just writing the odd thing occasionally,” and “sometimes posting on a very basic blog,” they all jumped to defend my self-effacement, encouraging me to embrace the calling. I was humbled that they all scribbled down the title of my little old blog, frantically resurrecting some old material to put on it, as soon as I got home, on the off-chance that they might look!
Growing and Developing
To my amazement, look they did, and there followed some incredible encouragement that has jolted my writing into a new season. In the space of just one year, being in the ACW has given me so much encouragement and opportunity. To pull out just a few highlights, I have:
• Become a very over-enthusiastic regular at my local group, counting it a highlight on my monthly calendar, as we bring and share and gasp and laugh and cry;
• Accepted a kind invitation to take part in a Lent Creative Writing Challenge, enabling me to connect with other writers and discover that it is more possible than I thought to write regularly, even with a family and a day job;
• Attended two ‘Writers’ Days’ and come back fit to burst with encouragement and inspiration, both from the speakers there and the extraordinary people I connected with over my packed lunch and coffee;
• Taken the plunge and accepted a monthly slot on this blog - thanks for having me! Developing a monthly writing habit has been an exciting and formidable challenge and I can be found floating on Cloud Nine, when comment notifications ping through to my phone!
• Written a piece for the forthcoming ACW Lent Book – a definite labour of love, teaching me much through the process of a myriad agonised re-writes;
• Written thirteen posts on my own blog –more than I had written in total, since its advent, in 2013.
In addition to these key highlights a few others stand out: I have attempted to take a photo, for my ‘Author Bio’ that doesn't look like the ‘World's Most Wanted’ or a Slimming World ‘before’ shot; and I now know a ‘WiP’ isn’t a creamy pudding, a ‘thunderclap’ isn’t an extreme weather condition and NaNoWriMo is not something someone says when they’ve had too much wine. Who knew the writing world contained more jargon than the world of education?!
I am not listing these things to blow my own proverbial brass instrument, but to show just what is possible, when we’re planted in the right environment, with the right people alongside. We were designed for community and I’m grateful beyond words that I found this one.
So much to be thankful for
This has been a hard year, personally, but I have so much to be thankful for. People I have known for such a short time have become friends, prayed for me, texted me, encouraged me, when I have needed it most. Being encouraged in my writing, as well as reading the inspirational work of other ACW Members has really buoyed me along in the toughest of times. There is something so lovely about having your bookshelves and Kindle bursting with inspiring writing, written by people you've actually met – though my bank balance doesn’t always thank me for it!
I have been encouraged and, I hope, been an encouragement too – after all, that is a key aim of the ACW – to encourage and equip. Let’s make sure it goes both ways, “encouraging one another daily,” (or, at least, monthly – Hebrews 3 v 13) as much as we possibly can. We’re an eclectic bunch, from all backgrounds and denominations, with a multitude of perspectives, collectively, on writing and life. Let’s use what we have, whoever we are, to connect and encourage even more through 2018.
Georgina Tennant is a secondary school English teacher in a Norfolk Comprehensive. She is married, with two sons, aged 9 and 6, who keep her exceptionally busy! She feels intimidated by having to provide an author-biography, when her writing only extends, currently, to attempting to blog, writing the ‘Thought for the Week’ for the local paper occasionally, and having a poem published in a book from a National Poetry Competition! Her musings about life can be found on her blog: www.somepoemsbygeorgie.blogspot.co.uk