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Showing posts from April, 2019

Second Time Around

700 and rising. That's the number of books I have on my shelves, though I may be underestimating it somewhat.

In that collection I have non-fiction books covering Celtic and North American Mythology, histories of Asia, Europe and Africa, as well as books on psychology, philosophy and economics among others. Not forgetting a large number of novels and various translations of the bible.

What most of them have in common is their origin: charity shops.

Many of my purchases are of one type. Books that look interesting, that I may want to read about at some unspecified time in the future, knowing that I likely won't. Others I do actually read, while some just look interesting, such as the diaries of John Smith who, in 1607, led a group of colonists to America.

The aforementioned books on mythology came from a charity shop, as have some history and current affairs books on Korea. I've picked up Folio Society books for a couple of pounds, histories of subjects as varied as cooking…

Prioritising

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How easy do you find prioritising your writing?  I’ve found it easiest to carve out my writing time for different projects I'm working on and try to stick to that.

This is not always possible.  Life has a habit of getting in the way and I’ve learned to accept this. What can’t be done one week has to go into the next but I limit this as much as possible.

I’m a member of the “get the story written and get it out somewhere” school of thought. I worry if I defer, I will keep on deferring.  Procrastination is so easy for a writer (we often call it research, yes? So many fascinating things to find out.  It will help us develop our characters.  Yes… maybe… but is the research getting in the way of you writing your characters’ story?).

When life does get in the way, the comfort I have is it is not down to me delaying getting work out.

 Over time I’ve learned to use small pockets of time to jot down flash fiction stories (or write them up). Train journeys can be great for getting work done…

Life Stories and Family Recollections by Trevor Thorn

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It’s Saturday evening the day before I'm due to put up my monthly contribution to this, the ACW blog.
I’ve been bouncing several ideas around in my mind but today’s events have reminded both my wife, Pam, and me of a conference she attended some years ago when the delegates were encouraged to write down their life stories - not for publication, even though for some, this might develop into publishable material.

It was a family birthday party that triggered this recollection and reminded us of the benefits of doing this. Among them we recollected:
That there are therapeutic benefits of looking back at our personal histories and revisiting the high-spots which can give rise to a sense of thanksgiving. Seeing the less good occasions with the benefits of hindsight and reminders of what helped at those times can also be helpful’The possibility of helping future generations to understand a bit more about why some things happened the way they did. The likelihood of our own life story yiel…

The lover's call by Tracy Williamson

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"My lover spoke and said to me, 'Arise, my darling, my beautiful one and come with me.'" ( Song of Songs 2:10 NIV)
Today I am going to the wedding of a lovely friend and as I thought about the coming celebration I sensed the longing of our Heavenly lover, Jesus.  He is calling us to come to Him in a new way; to arise in our identity as His 'beautiful one' and to come where He calls us to come, to be with Him.  This call is equally to men as to women.  We are all His bride, His chosen ones and He is calling us into a place of newness, of deeper love, of intimacy and joy in His presence. 
Sometimes when I come to be with the Lord it is more of a duty than a joy.  I know I ought to be having a quiet time or praying about those I know of in need of His help.  My prayers can be more like a shopping list than an intimate conversation between lovers!  Maybe you too feel that sense of obligation overriding your relationship with Him at times?  But today He is whisp…

Off by Heart, by Eve Lockett

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Recently on iPlayer I listened to Giles Brandreth’s Poetry by Heart, a radio programme about the benefits of learning poetry. The benefits for the young are obvious – it trains their minds, enhances their vocabulary and enriches their thoughts. The point of interest for me was that Brandreth wanted to persuade his older listeners it was not too late for them to learn new material. I’d always assumed I’d passed the age when it was possible. His challenge was that we should make the attempt. Apparently it helps us grow new brain cells and keeps them sizzling. I asked a professional actor if he’d heard the programme and whether he thought it was possible for older people to learn poetry by heart. He said he’d never had any trouble learning scripts, although admittedly he used to find it easier, and when he had no script to learn he would set himself to memorise a long poem. He told me that, at the age of 84, Dame Maggie Smith is appearing in a one-woman show, A German Life.  For people …

Wisdom wrapped in humour

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Now and then I stumble on a gem of a book.  Recently it was Bernard Basset’s ‘We Neurotics’, first published in 1962 and recommended to me in the 70s by a psychiatrist friend as an all time classic.  Out of print, there are still second hand copies available for those wishing to track it down.
Long forgotten on my bookshelves, it pinged back into memory as I travelled alongside a close family member off work with stress.  With our greater understanding of the human mind half a century on, I expected it to be hopelessly out of date.
But as I turned those fragile old pages, I became lost in the wisdom and humour.  Written by a catholic priest of some considerable pastoral experience, it had emerged from a deep and humble relationship with God and a love for the  people he met each day.
What surprised me most was that it was pure entertainment.  Not frivolous or consciously trying to amuse.  Rather, nuggets of ancient truth shining radiantly through pure joy.  Hadn’t CS Lewis said, ‘Joy is…

Why do writers write?

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This blog was going to be an easy one to write, or so it seemed. All we had to do was to Google ‘why I write’, collect the answers given by a clutch of famous writers, past and present, and edit them into an entertaining colloquium.
In the event, it was very difficult to find nice straightforward answers to this question, at least not without listening to long podcasts and reading articles hidden behind paywalls. The exception was George Orwell, who wrote a book called Why I Write, which provided hundreds and hundreds of unnecessary hits for our Google search.
Instead, what emerged was that for very many writers it is axiomatic that they were always going to write and that they have to do it. Take Virginia Woolf. She actually stopped writing when quite young because her doctor and her father persuaded her that it was bad for her nervous condition and that she should do gardening instead. Eventually Vita Sackville-West persuaded her to go back to writing. Or take Enid Blyton. Writing was…

Feasting on His word

I've recently been thinking about what the Bible means to me and what it might mean to others.

Psalm 23:5 says, 'You prepare a table before me' and Psalm 36:8 reminds us that, 'They feast on the abundance of your house; you give them drink from your river of delights.'

Recently, my house group was tasked with putting together a guide to help new Christians connect with God's word. This led to much discussion as we tried to decide which would be the most important things we would want to tell others about the Bible. Some people would be coming to the Bible with no prior knowledge at all, others from different faiths who might have a great deal of knowledge but have had their whole viewpoint turned upside down. Even within our group, although we agreed on key truths we wanted to communicate, there were particular themes or stories which spoke strongly to each of us in quite unique ways, based on our needs and experiences. The more we tried to unravel the differen…

Jesus Is (Still) Alive! by Emily Owen

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This time last month, I was in hospital, following an operation. I’m fine, all went well, but the reason I’m mentioning it is this:
The bed that was found for me was in an Intensive Care (ICU) room. I didn’t need to be there medically, but that’s where the bed was. After a shift change, a nurse walked into the room and I said, “Hello”. She jumped a mile! She knew there was a patient in that room but, being ICU, she’d thought the patient would be unconscious.
Basically, she got a shock because she hadn’t realised I’d be so alive.
We’re currently in Easter weekend. Yesterday, many of us celebrated Easter Sunday, rejoicing in the fact that Jesus is alive.
That first Easter Sunday, a bit like my nurse, people got a shock when they realised Jesus was alive.
I’m not belittling what that nurse experienced – to be honest, she nearly hit the ceiling – but, the thing is, she could have known. She could have known which patient was in that room. She could have known, by checking notes or speaking to …

Let's celebrate with thanksgiving...

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For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He [even] gave up His only begotten (unique) Son, so that whoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life.

                           John 3:16 (AMPC)



We have just returned home from a cruise down the Rhine to celebrate by husband’s birthday. I have just realised my contribution this month falls on Easter Sunday, so the above seems appropriate!
German traditional is to put painted eggs around a fountain in the middle of a town square.A central and eastern European tradition, as eggs were seem as a symbol of fertility and rebirth. Google said, “An egg is an ancient symbol of new life and has been associated with pagan festivals celebrating spring.”Christians have adopted the egg to represent Jesus’ bringing resurrection life. It seems both Christmas and Easter have been entwined with pagan rituals!The German Lindt chocolate factory wa…

A peculiar people!?

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Happy Easter weekend to you all. What a glorious time of year for those who believe!

Today (and running a little late) let me share some thoughts about this creative life of ours :)

When I married my beloved, he was a primary school teacher. We were nearly 10 years married when the possibility of being a pastor’s wife became a reality. We didn’t come via what I saw as the usual route and so I had many anxieties about it. One of which was the worry that the church might be a bit weirded out by the idea of the pastor married to a writer.

I was delighted to find that the wife of one of the elders is a writer too, so they were used to having a scribbler amongst them. Over time I learnt that the church has another writer, a poet historian. Then I found a photographer who is married to an artist. Then another artist. And just recently another. We’ve got some amazing musicians and singers, and a couple of actors too. Not bad for a little valleys church.

It turns out I live in a very creative…

Writing Easter

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Today is Maundy Thursday.  If you are devoutly un-Anglican and un-Catholic like me, you might not know what Maundy Thursday even means – I ignorantly assumed its phonetic links to the word ‘mourning,’ meant it carried a similar meaning (apologies to all who are now squirming at my lack of general knowledge).  Thank goodness for Google; apparently, Maundy is an Anglo-French word, derived from the Latin, “mandatum,” which means “commandment,” and reflects the final teaching of Jesus to the disciples (John 13 v 34 – “a new command I give you: love one another.  As I have loved you, so you must love one another,”), before the heavy weight of his divine mission pushed him to his final, agonising hours.

As the Easter weekend unfolds, provoking, as it does, soul-searching and moments of reflection, be encouraged, as a writer, to respond afresh to the rich and multifarious writing stimuli it cannot fail to provide: the charged atmosphere of the Last Supper on that Thursday evening; the agony o…