Being an Author, doing some writing. Andew J Chamberlain

Some years ago I picked up a copy of a little book called ‘The Personal Vocation’ by Father Herbert Alphonso. The author suggested that each of us has a unique God-given meaning in our lives, the personal vocation of the title. If we are able to discern this vocation, we can then discern the singular meaning of life for ourselves. This meaning is unique to each of us, and will be an expression of our God-given personality and the needs around us.
The examples of personal vocation given in the book are simple, and yet profound. They are represented by phrases like:  “patient love”, “the goodness of God”, “the loving kindness of God,” and “unconditional acceptance".

Reading this book made me reflect on my own personal vocation, and how this relates to being a writer. I found myself nodding vigorously at Father Alphonso’s assertion that this personal vocation exists at the level of being rather than doing. It reminded me of something I fervently believe which is that we are writers, rather than just people who write. The emphasis is on our identity rather than on the work we produce.

In the book Father Alphonso says this:

“Now the level of function, or doing, is bound to enter in to crisis someday - that is the very nature of function or doing…but if in such a crisis I can fall back on my resources of ‘being’…I need have no fear.”

I think this speaks to the heart of our identity as writers. If my writing is going well, I am a writer. If my writing is going badly, or I have lost my way, I am still a writer. In this sense it is part of my vocation, the sense of who I am not just what I do.

This is a profound thought: we are writers by identity rather than by activity. If this is true it leads me to a serious question: how should I express that identity? How should you? 

I will leave you with that question, and I'll return to it next month. In the meantime, I would recommend Father Alphonso’s book which you can find here.

Andrew Chamberlain is a writer and creative writing tutor. He is the presenter of The Creative Writer’s Toolbelt, a podcast that offers practical, accessible advice on the craft. Andrew has published fiction and collaborated on a number of ghost-writing projects through Authentic Media, including the bestselling, 'Once an Addict' with Barry Woodward. He has also self-published a number of science fiction short stories. Andrew will be part of the tutor team for First Page's Lakes Course in November.


  1. An interesting perspective Andrew and certainly thought provoking. I look forward to next months follow up

  2. I came to writing late in my life, but I know that I am now living in God's gifting because of the joy, freedom and contentment which flows when I am writing. It's an incredible blessing which I find hard to understand or express. Thank you for your insight, it is helpful. Mary Weeks Millard

  3. Hi Mary, you are very welcome! I think this issue of identity and purpose is very important, hence my focus on it this month, and next month. I think this is important for anyone, but for us Christians an assurance that we are doing what we are called to do is especially important.


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