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Thursday, 5 July 2018

Baked beans and the dread of anticipation by Jane Clamp



Image copyright youtube.com
My mind works along the same lines as one of those dispensers for tins of beans. Once one thing has been dealt with, the next automatically pops into position ready to be seen to. If friends ask me about something that’s due to happen in a few weeks’ time, I will answer, quite cheerfully, ‘Oh, that one hasn’t come into view yet.’ It’s not that I don’t know what burdens commitments are forthcoming, it’s just that I can only handle so much pressure.


Sometimes, as I’m working my way through my writing to-do list, I’m aware of an item that seems written in blood bold and demands my attention long before it’s due its turn in the mental process. At times like this, frankly, I find myself worrying and fretting and dreading the moment when all the other, smaller, distracting pieces are complete and submitted and I have no more excuses.



I’ve had such an experience recently. Following the excellent ACW Writers’ Day at Derby on the subject of journalism, I formally submitted a proposal for an article. Ahead of the Derby event, I would have said I had no interest in journalism but we were all encouraged to give it a go, so I did. I spent two weeks on the proposal, fretting and swearing sweating over the idea itself and its presentation. I clicked 'submit' and breathed a sigh of relief. I had faced down some inner demons and overcome. Except that the proposal was accepted and I received a detailed form outlining my commitment to the magazine. Somehow I hadn’t factored in that I might actually be required to write the article, and the fretting began in earnest.


My writing to-do list was quite full at the time and the magazine article remained uncrossed off – as indeed it would because of all I’ve said above. Around it, items were completed and sent off and finally the week arrived when it popped into clear view and I had to start writing.



It’s ridiculous, isn’t it, the tizzies we get into when we face a challenge that seems too big to handle? The lack of peace, the doubts over our ability, the terror of having our words (so hard-won in the first place) scrutinised by readers we have never met. Prayers for help seem to reach only as far as the ceiling. But, as I woke up on the morning I was due to start writing, I had a stream of ideas flowing into my mind as surely as oil being fed through a funnel into engine pipes. All my misgivings (apart from a couple of annoyingly persistent ones) were washed away as the words came steadily, if not swimmingly. My anticipation – with all its soul-searching and anxiety – that it would be too much for me was entirely skewed. Sometimes, we just have to do it – and find to our surprise that we can, after all.

Footnote: my article will be published in the October issue of Christianity magazine.




Jane Clamp is ACW Groups' Coordinator and is based in Norfolk. Her first book, Too Soon, a devotional on the topic of miscarriage will be published by SPCK on August 16th.

10 comments:

  1. Aw Janey, so much here I relate to. Applicable to my life, if not my writing, just now.

    And I love your crossings out - thanks for making me chuckle (glad I'm not the only one who swears - I mean sweats - at the computer) x

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    1. Ha ha! It's a tip I got from Fran - the crossings out I mean, not the swearing....

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    2. Yes, please don't dob me in over the swearing!

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  2. Brilliant! (And I can relate so much!)

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    1. Thanks, Adrianne. I need to trust myself a bit more sometimes to be able to come up with the goods.

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  3. Sounds scarily familiar! Made me giggle, too. Looking forward to reading the finished article. xx

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    1. Ah well, you're a seasoned article writer. I merely trail in your wake :)

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  4. Love the strike-throughs. And I can't believe, if this is anything to go by, that your words are as hard-won as you suggest.

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