Showing posts from January, 2017

How should the Bible be read? by Susan Sanderson

Having been brought up to go to Sunday school and later to Church, I was used to The Bible, or better still The Holy Bible, being regarded as a sacred text.  As a student I noticed a book on a library shelf.  It was entitled The Bible to be Read as Literature.

Quite honestly, I was horrified!

I felt that this was an attempt to undermine the respect with which earlier generations had viewed the Bible.  The linguistic root of literature is surely anything consisting of letters.  We use it in the title of examinations such as English Literature.  We also use it about information from showrooms about various products.

Nowadays, considering the trend towards secularism, I’d be glad to find someone reading The Bible to be Read as Literature.  Even in a different form it surely still has the power of the original to turn the hearts and minds of people towards God.  (I have to admit that I never touched this book, let alone looked inside it to see how it was presented.)

I wonder how much it …

Don't Punish Yourself...Let Others Do It

How often do you sit there, manuscript in hand, wailing over your uselessness and wondering why God created such a worthless specimen as yourself?

Oh. Just me then is it. Oh you do too? Phew. For one moment I thought I was alone in that.

So, to the only other writer who put their hand up and admitted it, this advice is for you:

Don't punish yourself. Let other people do it.
Publishers, agents and magazines employ people to go through manuscripts and accept/reject them. Why are you doing their job?

As a writer, our job is to write to the best level we can, improve our writing through practice and reading the work of others, submit work to professionals and move on to the next project. It is NOT to pre-reject ourselves.

We do not, usually, have our finger on the pulse of publishing and the literary world. We have a rough idea of what's going on but that's all. On top of which, new strands have to start somewhere. JK Rowling started one, why not us. Of course that's unlik…

Aspire to Inspire, by Fiona Lloyd

This time last week, I was taking part in the annual ACW committee retreat. It’s a great opportunity to talk and pray through the business of ACW, but also to get to know one another a little better. (It’s also a good excuse to jeopardise my diet by eating far too much sticky toffee pudding…but that’s another story.)

One of the getting to know you games we played involved writing down the name of someone who has inspired us. The leader added a couple of wild cards for good measure and then we had to build teams by taking it in turn to guess which of us had picked each name. Some of these were easier to work out than others: anyone old enough to remember who David Kossoff is could have quickly made the link between him and our very own Amy Robinson. Others were harder – we’ve all heard of Agatha Christie, Barack Obama and Elijah, but who would cite them as their inspiration?
No doubt we all have those who have inspired us in our Christian lives: biblical characters, modern day speakers, …

Stretching the Boundaries of Our Creativity by Trevor Thorn

Partial Neural Pathways: A composite image ‘stitched’ together to symbolise our advanced but still  partial knowledge of how the brain works
Several years ago, my wife bought me a computer painting programme as a birthday present. It wasn’t cheap (of course!) but neither was it hugely expensive. It is called ‘Artrage’ although there are now a whole range of art generation programmes available and some are very modest indeed. I tend to doodle rather than draw/ paint but I have been amazed what can be achieved with a little practice. On the basis that the impact of a picture can be several times more powerful than the word (Dare one even whisper it on an author’s blog!), a programme of this nature opens up all sorts of unexpected possibilities, the most significant of which I would identify as follows: Building images can be done without having to get art materials out - and then tidy them away (unless you are fortunate enough to have a studio area).The features of such a programme allow f…

Ode from a writer, by Lucy Mills

As I am a little overwhelmed by writing and editing at the moment, please forgive me for not sitting down to write an original post for you today, instead sharing a little bit of silliness in a few imperfect lines I wrote sometime in the past:

It’s true I’m quite besotted:
I want to stroke you, sniff you even
happiest when I’m scribbling on you,
spilling coffee on occasion
but you don’t seem to mind.

I get grumpy when we’re divided –
hear you calling in the middle of the night
when I’m just too sleepy to get up
and in the morning cannot remember
exactly what it was I wanted to say to you.

You and me, in our tight huddle
may draw occasional curious glances,
I don’t care if you’re all over my table
that’s just the way I like you.
You are my addiction.

What can I say of my dilemma?
My eccentricity, my love, my vice?
My temptation, vocation, adoration?
Others don’t know what to make of it:
the writer and her manuscript.

A good reminder of the times when writing is relief and joy - especially when in the har…

Happiness, Augustine and Traherne, by Eve Lockett

Very occasionally, I dip into the ‘Confessions of St Augustine’, which is his personal blog written in the fourth century. I’m not really getting into theology or doctrine here, but I want to reflect on something he says about happiness. Happiness is not often talked about in the Christian life – it’s as if it isn’t deep enough or spiritual enough to be really taken seriously. Either that, or happiness is associated with a kind of self-indulgent naughtiness careless of common sense or duty.

As with Augustine, the writings of Thomas Traherne give a very profound view of happiness as part of the Christian experience. Traherne, born in Hereford in the seventeenth century, wrote on the flyleaf of his work, ‘Why is this soe long detaind in a dark Manuscript, that if printed would be a Light to the World and a Universal Blessing?’ Ever felt like that? His words would have to wait four centuries to be published. Some of them were found on a bookstall barrow, many have turned up in manuscript…

Hobgoblins and Heroes

Image Credit:  All images are from Pixabay

One of my favourite books from my late mum’s collection is The Illustrated Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan and published by Odhams in hardback.  It is a beautiful book and is written as what we would know now as a graphic novel/comic book. 

The images of the hobgoblins and foul fiends are brilliantly done (in black and white, which is more menacing than colour) and gave me more than one nightmare when I was a kid.  The illustrator did their work well!  Hobgoblins and foul fiends should be scary…

My love of fantasy and allegory I think must come from this.  My bigger love of the hero/heroine who overcomes the monsters also dates from this.

That’s one of the biggest things I like about classic fantasy.  Evil is always defeated, wrongs are put right, monsters are sorted out, the hero will overcome (and they can be the unexpected hero.  Frodo Baggins, the hobbit, is the obvious example in The Lord of the Rings.  I can’t think of any other smal…

Working Together

Did you feel inclined to cheer at Merryl Streep’s attack on Donald Trump? Or perhaps rather at his retaliatory tweet, the one that said she was ‘overrated’? (I must admit to some sympathy with both…) But I have come to the conclusion that, in this time of crisis, to incline to such a response is to head up the wrong path. Retorts, rebuttals, refutations, repudiation, ridicule, mockery, sarcasm, satire, scorn: all those reactions. I crave the psychological release of using them as much as anyone. But I think that they only compound the evil.

My guess is that God is as much concerned about the way we debate and discuss divisive issues as about the substance of those issues. Perhaps more. A great deal of the distress I have felt over the last six months stems from the way people have responded to the crises with loaded speech or emotional behaviour, often crude. When we compare our instinctive behaviour to the standards embodied in the Gospel, we see at once that even Christians fall way …

Unseen forces and beautiful vegetables

Our youngest daughter is doing a project on magnetism at school. This weekend she's been creeping round the house with a large magnet stabbing it at random metal items to see if they'll stick. Radiator, yes. Teaspoon, yes. Grandma's glasses, no. Thankfully.

This thing happened, and the angels were watching with a smile on their face.

My husband, PhD in physics, always delighted when the girls show an interest in something scientific (he's given up on me) got out a very sensitive set of kitchen scales. He placed a key on the scales and then slowly lowered the magnet over the key from above.

The key weighed 17g. As the magnet got closer, closer, the key weighed less and less.

14g...11g... 9.25g... 5.67g...

At 4.3g, the key jumped up to meet the magnet. Whoof. Just like that.

He kept the magnet and key hovering over the scales and the weight registering on the scales started showing minus numbers.  I didn't even know it could show minus numbers.  The metal plate on to…

When Nothing Goes Write, Like by Emily Owen

Well, maybe I’m not quite that bad at multi-tasking but when, over Christmas, all the comings and goings and doings meant that multi-tasking had to be multiplied, something had to give. For me, that something was my Facebook page. When I logged onto it on January 6th, I realised I’d not looked at it since December 23rd.
Two weeks.
I also noticed that, in my absence, the page had accumulated a few more ‘likes’.
I was ‘liked’.
Despite doing nothing.

God says to Jeremiah (1:5), ‘Before I formed you in your mother's womb, I chose you.’ I chose you to stick with me, Jeremiah. To follow me. You’ve done nothing yet. You’ve not even been born. But I’ve chosen you.
Those people chose to follow my Facebook page. Chose to click ‘like’. Even though I’d done nothing.
Some days, I have ‘nothing’ days. Nothing’s gone right days. Nothing’s gone ‘write’ days.
Oh, the plan was to get it ‘write’. To pen copious words of such flowing perfection that they took my breath away. And I end the day wordlessly breath-full.

The Lord's Yearly Ruth Johnson

For I know the plans  I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.Jer 29:11

We live in exciting, but tumultuous days, as did Jeremiah.How good it is to know God has a plan for us, and He desires to reveal Himself to us in greater measure.I see my life as a training ground, my hope is based in Him and the knowledge that I am being prepared for an eternal future with Him. However, the Lord often speaks to me through earthly things.
Eighteen months ago my daughter gave me an adult colouring book and pens for my birthday.Within weeks newspapers were reporting that this was the latest trend started by Johanna Basford whose sketching attracted a friend to ask if she’d do copies for her to colour.Since the first “An Inky Adventure and Colouring Book” was published there have been two further beautifully soft bound books released making her probably thousands, if not millions, of pounds.It has been said that such a pas…

A struggling scribbler from Kent... by Sue Russell

A favourite quotation of mine comes from the composer Gustav Holst. 'If nobody likes your work, you have to go on for the sake of the work. And you're in no danger of letting the public make you repeat yourself.'
In the early years of his career Holst couldn't earn a living from his composing and instead played the trombone professionally. It may have been his failure to attract an enthusiastic following initially (rather a common experience!) that made him particularly aware of the dangers of taking oneself too seriously, and perhaps we should be too. In fact as Christians we should be less prone to this peccadillo than most artistic navel-gazers; we believe, don't we? that God has equipped us with certain gifts and we are to use them for his glory and the benefit of others, leaving the outcome to him. If we can put this into practice, it's quite a relief. I'm as susceptible to worrying about reviews (or the lack of them), who likes what I write, who doesn…

The Unexpected will Happen, by Wendy H. Jones

Today, due to circumstances beyond anyone's control, I found my self unexpectedly writing a blog post. Having not thought about this in advance I spent some time wondering what to write about. I had a busy day planned and writing a blog wasn't part of that plan. However, it has turned out to be a blessing in disguise. It has given me an opportunity to think abut how I react when the unexpected happens and throws my best laid plans into chaos.

The picture of the duck is intentional, mainly because it's a bonnie wee duck. Who can fail to be happy when faced with a yellow ball of fluff. However, it also serves as a metaphor for the various ways in which we act when the unexpected happens.

Usually the first reaction when something strays into the path of our ordered day is to panic. This can have its place but doesn't really help solve the immediate problem. Chaos ensues and nothing gets done. Except eating chocolate of course. That always gets done.

Then there's the …

Midnight musings from a writer's journal by Joy Lenton

It's dead of night. My body is resting but thoughts circle like restless birds. Trying not to leak black ink onto whiteness of pillow, I scribble in a notepad, needing to put pen to paper.

Here's what emerged in the midnight hours...

"Words have been rather stilled of late. Once they ran so freely I could scarce keep pace with them. Strangely, poetry often flows more easily than prose when I'm extra fatigued. It makes me wonder if we can only focus on one facet at a time: Storytelling, fiction writing, memoir, articles, functional narrative, or poetry in all its various guises.

I cannot always cajole poetry. She's capricious, wilful, shy. Her alchemy fails when I push too hard, strain for a rhyme or press to combine this word or that into magic potions of my own devising. 

When I simply let her alone, ignore my desire to pen the poetic, then she returns. Quietly at first. A line or two to get me started. A word that lingers like honey on the tongue. Eventually my poet…

Dealing with distraction by Claire Musters

We have had many a humorous moment discussing cheesecake, and our desperate need of it (or chocolate), over on the ACW Facebook page haven’t we? But, to be serious for a moment, I have found I have been severely distracted over the last few months, finding it difficult to settle down to work each day.
Not used to being distracted much, I have been questioning why it is happening. I believe part of it is due to a sense of dissatisfaction. I’m experiencing it in my walk with God, too, and I can sense Him beckoning me to go deeper and explore new things so I’m no longer satisfied by the status quo. Perhaps it is the same with my writing – although I think part of the distraction is down to the fact I am working on something so close to my heart.
A quick search online shows a wealth of articles from ‘writing experts’ telling us how to beat all writing distractions. But, I wonder, whether distraction is always an enemy – or whether it can open us up to new possibilities.
I totally unders…