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Cleanup Interview by Kathleen McAnear Smith

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It was a Saturday morning in the ancient church on top of the mountain in Sant El’Piddio a Mare, Italy. Busy busy. A young woman was polishing brasses, a man was hoovering, another man dusting; and in the centre of it all was Don Enzo the Priest. Don Enzo was directing the traffic of the flowers coming in and being placed on the altar. A little to the left. A little to the right.  I had tried to sit quietly on one of the pews but I find it difficult to rest when everyone else is working. I walked to the back of the sanctuary, feeling a pang of guilt. I didn’t feel guilty about dusting the renaissance paintings. I knew Don Enzo enough to to know he had his team and they are well trained to do exactly what was needed for mass on Sunday.   No, I was feeling guilt about a small village church back where we live in England. St Lawrence in Seale is a beautiful medieval church. It’s the beautiful quiet in a crazy, noisy world. And when had I ever volunteered to assist with a Saturday prep for

Where Did The Time Go? by Georgie Tennant

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“ How did it get so late so soon? It’s night before it’s afternoon. December is here before it’s June. My goodness how the time has flewn. How did it get so late so soon? ” Dr. Seuss Isn’t time a funny thing? I have been conscious of it more than ever lately. As a parent watching my child navigate the final months of primary school, I’m mentally checking off each school run as I do it. As the teacher of a Year 11 class, I am counting down the lessons until study leave and then exams. As a writer, I’m constantly juggling thoughts, ideas and deadlines, trying to work out how to fit some writing in between all the other calls for my ever-squeezed time. Time is a funny thing because of its intriguingly malleable qualities. We will all confess that the minutes seem interminable when we are waiting for our turn at the dentist. And conversely, we admit the truth in the old cliché that “time’s winged chariot” indeed speeds by when we are on holiday or participating in an activity we love.

How well do you know yourself?

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A light-hearted quiz for Christian writers 1 A non-writing friend asks you if you’re still 'churning out’ stories/poems/novels/books. Do you A Tell her in no uncertain terms to get lost? B Expound upon the difficulties involved in creating a vibrant piece of work? C Take it as a compliment? D Say,’ Oh gosh!’ and think your work must be the most boring on the planet? 2 A fellow writer asks you where you get your ideas, and you suspect, strongly, he’s short of his own supply. Do you a)   A Tap your nose knowingly, and say, ‘Ah, that would be telling.’? B Start with the Bible and move on to the characters at the bus stop, followed by your Great Aunt Harriet, the things your children say, and what happened at work last week? C Smile and say, ‘I’m not sure. In all kinds of places and in all kinds of situations really,’ then highlight one idea that gave you a really good story? D  Grimace, and say, ‘I’m often a bit lost for ideas,’ and feel sure everything you have ever w

That Imposter Syndrome Thing - by Liz Carter

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Imposter Syndrome. Something we all struggle with, from time to time - and I'd guess that this is even more the case with writers. Have you ever had your writing praised and felt as though somehow you have duped people into thinking it's worth something? Have you won something and decided that you're actually a fraud and that others must be better than you, it's just a fluke, and soon they'll see right through you? It's happened to me this week. I won a local poetry competition and am now Resident Poet of my town for this year. My mind was full of all the usual lines: I'm not as good as others, the judges must have been having a bad day. Maybe I was the only entry. Maybe they just wanted the vicar's wife. Maybe they'll hate me when they see me for who I really am. I allowed the script to play into my head and then I soon descended from that into comparison (Ruth Leigh wrote an excellent post on just that topic the other day .) I compared myself to t

Two sides to every story

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    Ken and I have had a little break recently and one of our outings was to Flatford.  John Constable loved the countryside around there and painted it, I can think of  two of his pictures in particular, The Haywain and Flatford Mill. Rather more recently, our friends loved it there too, and had told us we must go. So when we arrived we had expectations of being overawed by our surroundings. We walked down to where we could see the cafe, then turned left to walk up the lane looking at the outside of the mill. It is now a youth adventure centre but didn't really look like a watermill. We followed directions for an easy walk which turned out to be walking round one very large field with many picturesque sheep with their lambs - some baaing softly as they wandered the field or sought shelter from the hot sun beneath a copse of trees. Beautiful and peaceful, but nothing outstanding. We did visit Bridge Cottage where visitors are allowed downstairs. There were some great descriptions o

DREAMS AND DISAPPOINTMENTS

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  We were meant to be in Cornwall. A bank holiday, a birthday, a booking in a posh restaurant, and a sunny weather forecast. We were meant to be in Cornwall.   Another weekend and we are meant to be in Sheffield. A long awaited family reunion, a meal and walk planned in the Peak District, another sunny forecast. We are meant to be in Sheffield.   I was meant to become Team Lead. Years of experience, on a leadership course as part of my development, enthusiastic encouragement from colleagues, a thoroughly prepared interview. I was meant to become Team Lead.   But…a throat infection. But…traffic at a standstill. But…an unsuccessful application.   Even when we have laid the best plans possible… Even when all the signposts seem to be pointing in the same direction… Even when we are sure we are following God’s prompting…   We can be derailed. By nausea, headache, and a throat that feels like someone has taken a potato peeler to it. By fire engines

A Tale of Two Writers

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 Stop! Yes, you; this instant.   That’s better. Now, find yourself a comfortable seat. Maybe pour yourself a glass of wine/ make a cup of tea/ mix an exotic cocktail first.    Okay, so I’ve got your attention … hang on a minute. Oi, you at the back! Stop scrolling through your phone.   Well done. Feels good, doesn’t it? I’d like you to close your eyes while I tell you a little story.   Once upon a time there were two writers, both with dreams of how their words would change the world (or at least be picked up and read by someone who wasn’t their mum, or their second cousin twice removed).   The first writer threw herself whole-heartedly into preparing her magnum opus. She scribbled away late into the night until well after the hardiest owl had given up and gone back to bed, and she got up again just as the local teenagers were returning home after a lengthy night drinking over-priced gin in the city centre. She survived on coffee and Hobnobs, showered only when the