Showing posts from April, 2018

Looking Back

How good a writer are you? What do you worry about? Are you good enough?

Whatever your literary experience, chances are you've had a relatively negative answer to those questions.

There are two things to remember when assessing yourself:
1) Those who are supremely confident of themselves are rarely talented.
2) Compare how long you've been writing to how long you've been alive.

Looking at the first statement, it becomes clear that those who over-believe in themselves are not commonly accustomed to introspection or to critquing of their work. No one can know everything about writing and we all learn new things every time we start a new chapter, novel or work of non-fiction.

All things in life are unknown until we learn them and it is unlikley we will know everything about writing after a lifetime spent learning our craft, even if it is all we do.  Not only because language changes, but markets change, styles change.

Be gentle with your doubts and accept that they open you …


Image Credit:  All images are via Pixabay

I know the saying states cleanliness is next to godliness but writers should have clarity beside it instead.
I’ve recently discovered the joys of the Plain English Campaign’s “goobledygook generator”.  You click the relevant box and actual examples of gobbledydook come up.  See and have fun clicking the box!

“It's time that we became uber-efficient with our knowledge-based logistical paradigm shifts.”

Would anyone care to translate this garbage? It is not the worst example either. 

How about “It's time to revamp and reboot our optional incremental programming.”?

Something needs rebooting here. I would say whoever came up with that needs reminding (and often I suspect) that the primary purpose of language is to communicate clearly. How do we get through to the culprits more words does not necessarily mean better communication?
So we should say what we mean to say in as clear a m…

Who, or What Is Your Avatar? by Trevor Thorn

So this is me and my Avatar - prepared with a programme that gave no opportunity to introduce lines in the face nor a varied complexion! (At least, I found no provision for such changes). So my Avatar would almost certainly not be recognised by my real-life friends. And it is those, and far more radical differences in some people’s Avatars that gave rise to this poem.

When you get to the line about your parents, please recognise that is a question for everyone - not just  children and young people.
Who, or What Is Your Avatar?
Who, or what is your Avatar? Does he, she or it bear your name Or another: and whichever the case Do you use it for many or just for one game?
Would your parents like meeting your Avatar? Would they recognise you in the traits Of the character you have so carefully built To be ‘you’ in gaming forays?
Does your Avatar look at all like you? Perhaps round the mouth or the eyes Or have you formed a creature or person With deceptively cunning disguise?
Is your Avatar weaker or stro…

Power in Prayer Writing by Tracy Williamson

Sometimes I struggle to know how to pray.  My thoughts are jumbled; I may feel anxious or full of hope. I may simply want to worship or need God to transform a particular situation.  How can I move from  vague yearnings to prayers that grip hold of God's amazing grace and love?
For me the answer is writing.  In my journal I jot down something I see in the news or experience in my daily life; I jot my sadness for a friend in trouble, my sense of inadequacy or my overflowing joy. Odd words, half expressed longings, glimpses of truth and pain ...and slowly what I feel and long for begins to emerge and then the sense of God's answer and suddenly I have my prayer, expressed and real.
Recently I found such a prayer written in an old journal.  I was staying in a city, very busy, crowds of people.  I felt a longing that I couldn't put a name to, so I got out the notebook and jotted down all that came to me. 
This is what emerged, it still moves me and compels me to pray again:

The Wood between the Worlds, by Eve Lockett

I and my granddaughter are reading The Magician’s Nephew by C S Lewis, at her request. She is reading aloud to me, but we are definitely experiencing the story together and we are equally excited to know what happens next. In my case I have read the book before, but that doesn’t seem to take away the thrill – perhaps because I am sharing her excitement as the story unfolds, perhaps because I don’t have a good memory.

One of the most powerful images in the book is the Wood between the Worlds; a strange, almost hypnotic place where nothing much happens, there’s a kind of lethargy that comes over anyone who enters it, and it is difficult to measure the passing of time. The wood is a connecting place for many worlds, accessed through pools, one of which leads to our world.

I have been wondering about the metaphor of the Wood between the Worlds for us as writers and Christians. For instance, it can be a place where all the potential of our lives lies around us and we need to make a decision …

I'd Like to be a Writer, by Fiona Lloyd

I’d like to be a writer,
And hide myself away in a garret
(Whatever one of those is)
With only a pristine notebook

And a quill-pen for company. 

It sounds so romantic:
So peaceful, yet I suspect –
After the novelty wore off –
I’d be lonely.

I’d like to be a writer:
What is it they say?
“We all have a book inside us.”
Only, they never go on to tell
Exactly how you get it out.

It sounds so inspiring,
Except mine’s deeply buried,
And trying to find it
Might be painful.

I’d like to be a writer,
With shelves full of my words
Dominating every bookstore;
And people would queue up
To acquire my latest tome. 

It sounds so alluring,
But then … those reviews!
Public humiliation
Could destroy me.

I’d like to be a writer:
I’m planning to start, just as soon
As I’ve trimmed down my workload
(Or – better still – retired)
And I have a few hours to spare.

It sounds so idyllic:
Just me and my laptop
And only the internet
To distract me.

I’d like to be a writer:
A weaver of magic, whose words
Set visions and dreams in the mind,

Mini Inklings and Synchronicities

A sort of writer’s playtime used totake place in our house. We have a professional writer-cum-journalist friend, John, who used to visit this city from time to time to attend an editorial meeting. He combined this with a spot of research in the university library. And he used to stay a couple of nights with us.

Once he got in of an evening, the three of us would settle down in the sitting room with cups of tea, English breakfast or mint, and some biscuits, lift the lids of our laptops (yes, we kept one eye on our screens as we chat), and launch off into a discussion of our visitor’s latest piece of writing and all kinds of literary and publishing themes related to it. It was like a mini Inklings. Some new line of enquiry that John had begun led to discussion, then Googling, Wikipedia-scanning, dictionary look-up, and further discussion. More tea (for John) and then we began to stumble off to bed.

Not long ago John was working on some papers and chanced on a reference to a minor British …

Upon sticking your head above the parapet - by Helen Murray

Not for the first time, I've read a blog post by Deborah Jenkins and she has inspired me to write my own post. Not for the first time, this little nudge has come at exactly the right time; and not for the first time, it's been when I've been feeling very much in need of a bit of encouragement.

I make heavy weather of things, I know. Life in this 'season' for me is definitely more like a slog than a gambol and writing, while very precious to me indeed, is regularly elbowed out by the mundane and the immediate. When time and head-space are both acutely limited I have to make sure that I read the Bible daily and spend some time writing in my journal because I have found these to be life and sanity savers. For long periods it's the only writing that I do, but I've kind of made peace with that. Anything over and above is a bonus.
I got something written a few months ago. I was pleased with it. When it was all finished I knew that it wasn't perfect, but so mu…

Not A Drop To Drink by Emily Owen

“Why didn’t she say sorry?” I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve read ‘Goldilocks and the Three Bears’ to one child or another, but last week was the first time I have ever been asked why Goldilocks didn’t apologise to baby bear for eating his porridge. “Why didn’t she say sorry to him for leaving his bowl empty?”
In Numbers 20, the Israelites are moaning. Verse 5:
 “Why did you bring us up out of Egypt to this terrible place? It has no grain or figs, grapevines or pomegranates. And there is no water to drink!”
And there is no water to drink.
Water is almost an afterthought here, and yet water is the essential for life. When I’m lying in hospital, I may dream of milkshakes and cups of tea, but it’s water that is always left available for me. I can live without cups of tea (possibly). But water is essential for life.

Jesus, our Living Water, is essential and yet, like the Israelites in Numbers, perhaps we make him an afterthought when we look at things we don’t have?

I don’t have ins…

A time to be planted out

"But his delight is in the law of the Lord 
and on his law he meditates day and night 
He is like a tree 
planted by streams of water 
and whose leaf does not wither 
Whatever he does prospers."

Psalm 1:2-3