Tuesday, 5 January 2016

An Unexpected Gift by Jane Clamp

I had an unexpected gift last week. I imagine many of you nodding at this statement, remembering Christmas morning - or afternoon if you are post-Queen unwrappers - and the various expressions your face had to go through on its way to what you hoped was something bordering on gratitude and possibly even wonder, though not in a good sense. Still now, your gaze finds its way over to the corner where you left the rather odd garment (at least that's what you presume it is) hand-knitted carefully and unnecessarily by that sweet relative whose connection with you was always tenuous and has hardly been enhanced by this latest offering.

No, in fact I am not even referring to Christmas; the timing was incidental to this tale. Back in September, feeling that I had some spare time on my hands, I signed up to an OU creative writing online course due to start at the beginning of October. Eight weeks of sitting at my computer learning how to be a writer! Well, having soon discovered that the spare time was simply a mirage, I have taken until now to reach Week Three. Happily I am not the only student to be lagging so far behind and my postings to the forum have received some replies - the equivalent of seeing a torchlight up ahead in the fog. Anyway, last week the task was to submit up to 350 words, a paragraph or two of what might become a longer story. I confess that I responded in my usual fashion: I simply began typing and watched to see what came out. Having got to 286 words and thinking "that'll do" (in the light of being so far behind) I pressed send and awaited my peer review.

Here I find myself becoming quite serious and thoughtful. You see, what I received back was the  most stunning insightful critique I could ever have imagined. Please don't misunderstand what I had offered. I had not dashed off any old piece of prose, but I certainly hadn't planned it out or analysed what I should put. I just wrote from my heart and the shock, this unexpected gift, was that the reviewer (who could be anywhere on the planet) "got me". He saw things in my piece that I hadn't seen myself. Having read my scene depicting two people at odds with each other, he saw signs of them wanting reconciliation and peace despite what was happening. He spoke wisdom into the two characters that could have come from God Himself - and to be honest I think that's exactly where it did come from.

As a writer, this anonymous reader gave me one of the best gifts I've had this season (and I've had some beauties). It has reminded me that our words - whether carefully crafted or simply blurted from our hearts - find their mark in the hearts and minds of our readers. And, more than that, they set up the connection that finds its start and finish in the heart of God.


Jane Clamp is Creative Writer in Residence on the BBC Radio Norfolk Sunday Breakfast show and is set to join the Premier Radio Thought for the Day team in 2016. An interior designer and musician by trade, she spends whatever spare time there is writing. She is currently editing her first novel.


  1. Awesome sweetheart :) love Mr C

  2. That is indeed a great gift. Love this post. Thanks