Showing posts from October, 2015

Ask not what Chiasmus can do For You by Lucy Robinson

What makes your writing memorable?

You know, I’d been hoping to write something about literary devices. Something helpful. Something encouraging. Something beyond just the Rule of Three.

Perhaps that is where my story begins, because I love rhetoric and close readings of texts. (Somewhere I made some notes on it, once upon a time.)

Finding my notes is part of my rounded routine of procrastination. That is, when I find the time to start looking for the right notes.

With the children home from school, much of this summer has been spent absorbed in their greater and lesser needs. They do keep wanting to eat.

Which demands having food in; and clean plates.

But they keep producing mess. And eating up the food.

(And still wanting more to eat…)

Their needs have grown greater and lesser as the days draw on and the evenings draw in and they have each absorbed so much and I will miss them when they return to school, but I really look forward to having just a little more time.

Time to procrast…

A Christian Adventure in Morocco by Ann Phillips

(A leap into writing poetry.)

Many years ago, almost it seems like a different life, I was studying at a Bible College in Cambridge and hoping to go to India as a missionary.

At the end of one summer term our Principle and her husband planned to drive through France, cross into Morocco and visit missionary friends, five students joined them; we set off early one morning in their camper van armed with our Bibles,suncream, notebooks, pencils and high expectations!

Our Head of college was a vibrant, creative lady who not only taught Theology, Church history, Hebrew and Greek but also enjoyed writing poetry, and her delight in crafting words was communicated to us.

We drove through France crossing over into Morocco; Arriving at Tangiers, we were so glad to find hot showers and comfy beds! Our hosts were the St John family, medical missionaries who worked at a clinic in the city.

Encouraged by my friends I wrote my first poem, about my enduring memory from camping in France.



When the Pen is the Sword by Dorothy Stewart

Are you a Christian writer? Or a writer who is a Christian? For the purposes of this post, any difference doesn’t matter. What matters is the word ‘Christian’. If you claim that name, you’re going to find yourself in a warzone. Our Lord Jesus Christ won the war but the opposition hasn’t given up yet and we’re in the firing line – especially if we have the temerity to stand up for what – and Who – we believe, in what we’re writing.

So do not be surprised when the attacks come. Illness, suffering, rejection, misunderstanding, abuse, mockery, despair, wanting to give up… and my particular current bugbear, that horrid creeping apathy like a heavy blanket that gets in the way of actually getting anything done!

Name the attack, by all means, but name the enemy too. ‘For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against … the powers of this dark world, the spiritual forces of evil’ (Ephesians 6:12)

What to do? Prevention is best, if you can, and that means making sure we spend enough ti…

Know Yourself, by Lucy Mills

ON MY 'DAY OFF' THIS WEEK, I lay slumped on the sofa, exhausted and past caring. About anything. Everything seemed pointless - not in a morbid fashion, simply that I was too exhausted to assign meaning to anything.

I've learned, after dreary experience, that I need to allow myself these moments. To allow myself recovery time, not to fret at the lack of meaning I feel, not to judge my life on a moment when I'm temporarily 'used up'.

Sometimes, or even often, this happens when it's not my 'day off' and I have to go through the motions, forcing myself to care even though the rebellious, shattered part of me sees no reason to care.

We all have things about ourselves that we (hopefully) learn to recognise.  I recognise that just because I feel this way today, doesn't mean I'll feel that way tomorrow.  Just because I can't imagine, in this moment, ever writing anything again - let alone anything of worth - doesn't mean I won't. Just b…

Strings, bows and hats

By Fiona Veitch Smith
The ‘about me’ section on my website and Amazon author page declares: ‘Formerly a journalist, Fiona Veitch Smith has written books, theatre plays and screenplays. She is best known though for her novels and children's picturebooks. Her 'Young David Picturebook' series (SPCK, illustrated by Amy Barnes Warmington) are based on the Biblical character of King David when he was a young boy. 'The Jazz Files'(Lion Fiction) is the first novel in her mystery series, Poppy Denby Investigates, and is set in the 1920s. Her standalone novel, 'The PeaceGarden'(Crafty Publishing), is a romantic thriller set in England and South Africa. She lives with her husband, daughter and two dogs in Newcastle upon Tyne where she lectures in media and scriptwriting at the local universities. She has a passion for cheesecake, Pilates and playing the clarinet - preferably not at the same time!
Now the reason I have re-printed this is to show you that there are many …

Counting Down the Days by Fiona Lloyd

It’s that time of year again: already it seems like people have been talking about it for weeks. I promised myself that this year I would be more organised and start my preparations well in advance, but it still looks like I’ll be doing stuff at the last minute. Now that I can count down in days, it’s beginning to feel real.

And no, I’m not talking about Christmas. At the moment, my thoughts are full of NaNoWriMo, which runs for the whole month of November. I took part for the first time last year, and was amazed at how beneficial I found it (although I need to be honest at this point and explain that I didn’t get anywhere close to their suggested target of 50,000 words).
What was most helpful for me was simply the fact that I had given myself permission to prioritise my writing. Some days, I wrote before work, or sat with my laptop in the car while waiting for an after school club to start. I realised it was easier to avoid settling down to an evening of watching rubbish on the telly w…

‘A great book, the only one of his that gives me unalloyed pleasure.’

The ‘great book’ is C. S. Lewis’s English Literature in the Sixteenth Century, about which I started to tell you in my September blog. And the person who said this was none other than Lewis’s friend, J. R. R. Tolkien.

Let’s not use this remark as fuel for the debate about why Tolkien and Lewis became estranged. Instead, let’s remember that in ELISC Lewis was doing his real job, the task which his education and profession had formed him for, and not straying into disciplines in which he was, strictly speaking, an amateur. Tolkien was enjoying the mature fruit of Lewis’s lifetime study of our foundational literature.
And professional this book is. You don’t have to know much about the subject to enjoy the book, because you are in the hands of a writer who knows it inside out, loves it, and only wants to convey his excitement and fascination with it.
Let me attempt to convey this to you by plunging you into the midst of the book. In order to prepare us for his discussion of the sixteenth…

Letter to my teacher - by Helen Murray

To my teacher

I was in your class for English, and English was the first lesson of my first day at senior school.
To start with I sat at the front because I wore my eleven year old enthusiasm right out in the open and I didn't realise that my eagerness to please might be more sensibly hidden somewhere the mean kids couldn't see it. As the school years progressed I chose a seat further back, but the enthusiasm didn't wane, and my goody-goody keenness was justified.  This was my thing, and I loved your lessons. 
You took my appetite for stories and fed it with rich, nourishing food. You introduced me to the big guns of literature in such a way that I was seduced, not overwhelmed. You tamed the giants with new voices, mixed poetry with theatre with prose and left me dizzy with delight.  You took away fear and replaced it with curiosity; you showed me that Shakespeare was funny, scary, inspiring, moving, but above all accessible. You told me that nothing was beyond my reach - …

Side by Side by Sondheim

This month has been a lean one for writing as I've not been too well, and both my brain speed and inspiration have been extremely lacking (if you are interested in learning more about living with bipolar, do have a look at my blog). In the interest of just 'getting something down', I repeated to myself that old adage: write what you know. One idea loomed large: composer/lyricist/genius Stephen Sondheim.
Now I know - Sondheim is a completely different kettle of fish for ACW, but I still think he has things to teach us about writing. I've always loved Sondheim's music, but it's learning about his approach to lyrics that has made me realise just how perfect his writing advice is.
It is described thus:

               "There are only three principles necessary (that) underlie everything:                           Content dictates form;                           Less is more;                           God* is in the details -                 all in the service of Clari…

The view from the Potting Shed by Ruth Johnson

"Our Father in heaven, hallowed by your name,  your Kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven."  Matt.6:9-10
As I sit in a comfortable chair outside my ‘spiritual’ potting shed to enjoy the last rays of the summer sun the Lord continues my contemplation of the walled kitchen garden, the emptiness of the beds, and after one fallow year to wonder what seeds will germinate in this one.
I see that if I want to ensure the seeds that germinate are of the Lord there is a need to discipline myself to always think, speak and act positively.
What has God seeded in our lives over the years which we are still waiting to come into being?What deep truths have we forgotten, or hopes we feel have been lost?I suspect has God put within us many things we either didn't understand at the time, or have no recollection of receiving. Spoken or read these words are seeds that have entered our brain through our ear or eye gate. Seeds of the Lord’s truth He is wanting to germin…

A joint venture by Sue Russell

This is not a plug, shameless or otherwise, I promise.

A few months ago our redoubtable webmaster Wendy posted on the idea of contributing to anthologies, and I thought people might be interested and encouraged to hear my own recent experience.

I belong to two writers' groups: an ACW regional one and another, secular, group to which I have belonged for a dozen years or more. I have seen people come and go during that time but there remains a core of long-standing members, and this year has seen the preparation of an anthology of stories and poems with eight contributors from this second group, some who have been members for years and others who have come along more recently.

The anthology saw the light of day last month, following  a great deal of of work: by individual members choosing and honing their respective pieces, by myself proof-reading the whole text, but principally by one member who has the relevant experience and therefore the complex tasks involved in self-publishing…

Live a bit - by Veronica Zundel

Here’s a confession. Since my mother died, I’ve been swearing more and drinking more alcohol. And here’s another: I’m rather enjoying it. Now you’re shocked. I know you are. They are both things Christians aren’t meant to do. Because we may be saved by grace but after we’ve gotten saved, woe betide us if we ever do anything remotely naughty. We are the Galatians: we started with the Spirit, but by Heligoland,  we are going to go on with the law.

Let me tell you something. The teaching that baptism washes away our sins but any sin after baptism is unforgivable, is Jehovah’s Witness teaching. It’s not remotely Christian. And anyway, whoever said swearing and drinking are sins? When Jesus talked about not swearing by anything in earth or heaven, he didn’t mean using words beginning with ‘b’ or ‘f’ (pick your favourite) but about swearing an oath to prove you were telling the truth, in court or out. Christians are meant to be truth-tellers at all times. That’s why we Mennonites, and Quake…

Read, respond, write by Joy Lenton

Do you have a tendency to get involved with things you never intended to? I do.

And I'm not talking about gazing out the window while munching chocolate biscuits instead of pressing on with the 'work in progress'.

Unless that is, window gazing people watching, coffee drinking and biscuit eating are your necessary research aids, in which case please carry on.

No, this is when you see an idea on-line, seize it by the throat and run with it.

Your mind full of 'why don't I do that?' - why not, indeed. Impulsive, moi?

It happened to me recently as I read the given prompts for 31 days of five-minute-free-writing (helpfully provided well in advance) while linking up a five-minute-friday post.

I paused, pondered and prayed. So far, so good.

Ideas flowed. Inspiration came, and I began to put aside a few posts in draft form ready for the writing month to come.

It began with a 'here's-one-I-made-earlier' poem, then new ones appeared alongside prayer whispers, prayers …

God uses us through our circumstances by Claire Musters

I recently read a book that really challenged me in various different ways. One of the things that particularly got me thinking was when the author challenged the phrase so many of us use ‘God has used me despite my circumstances’. She said that this simply isn’t true, and yet it has become an accepted explanation in Christian circles. The truth is He uses us through our circumstances. That’s the mystery of difficulties and suffering – while I don’t understand much about it, and certainly have a lot of questions for God about why my mum has had to suffer so much, I can’t deny that God’s ways are higher and too lofty for us to understand.
As I pondered the fact that He uses all the things we go through, it made me think about my writing. What does that mean for those of us who write? I have felt God prompt me to write about my own difficulties in the past and am persevering even though it feels raw and too hard at times because I can sense Him working through it.
If God works through …