Swan song by Sue Russell

Legend has it that the swan, once it utters its one and only song, which may or may not be pleasant to hear, goes off and dies. I hope that won't be my fate, but this, dear ACW friends, will be my last post (another pun, oh dear) on this blog. With one exception, when the 20th of the month was imminent and my fount of inspiration completely dry, I have been here since the blog's inception, and I thought it was probably time to step down in favour of younger (perhaps) and fresher (definitely) voices.
This is not to mention the extreme difficulty I have faced from the start of finding anything worthy to say. Maybe this surprises you because normally, in other circumstances, I have plenty to say. But what to write, within the parameters of Christian content or writing interest, and preferably both, that hasn't been said before, has posed a monthly problem that made my brain ache. However, I am hoping not to die any time soon, and you will no doubt hear my words of (ahem) wisdom elsewhere, eg facebook.
Pictures are attractive and sometimes I have included photos of flowers which were totally irrelevant, lacking anything more apt. However, this post's photos do have a point, because they were taken at our place in France, which at the moment of writing is looking delightfully verdant and full of colour. Tomorrow we have to return to our UK home, and that's always a wrench, made bearable by the thought of coming back in a few weeks (no doubt to undo the chaos wrought by nature in the interim.) When we bought our house here we said it was a ten-year project. We've been here for sixteen, and don't want to go yet, because now, as well as bees loudly devouring radiant rhododendrons in the sunshine (always a plus for Normandy) and even louder birdsong, and the tranquillity, we have a second life here - friends, a second church family, closer connections all the time. One day, though, we will have to sell up. A huge rough garden and an ancient house will need younger and less creaky owners, and the French inheritance laws would make it a tiresome burden for our descendants. It has been a great blessing not only to us but also to many visitors, and we are thankful.
The fact is, not wishing to sound too dreary a note, one day we will have to give up all the pleasures, delights and beauties of this world and this life too: in my own case one of many joys and discoveries as well as griefs and difficulties, and I find it almost impossible to envision how to leave it all behind (kicking and screaming, maybe.) What a good job that particular moment is beyond my control. How relieved I am that God is in charge.
Meanwhile I (and no doubt you too) have tasks still to do  for his service, and I'd just like to share with you a personal thought or two about writing. I've been trying very hard in my novels to write with simplicity and clarity. That's not because I don't love words, far from it: the weirder, longer and more Latinish the better, but when I am reading, especially fiction, I feel it's a bit of a failure on the author's part if I have to keep diving into my dictionary, as well as the suspicion that he or she is doing a bit of unattractive showing off. If, as I believe, the story is paramount, nothing should get in its way. Recently a 90 year old friend told me she liked my book and found it easy to read. I took it as a compliment. If our prose is unassuming and lucid, allowing the story pride of place, then the occasional sumptuous descriptive passage or flash of poetry is all the more vivid and engaging. It's often the small hints that spark off the reader's imagination, and we need to remember that there's another brain involved in our work - that of the person reading it.
Internet word games, often with formidable opponents, deal with my ongoing love of obscure words both short and long, and so save my readers from this peculiar obsession, as well as keeping me out of mischief (mostly.)
Au revoir!


  1. I will miss your monthly wisdom. Enjoy whatever comes next!

  2. Progress with the WIP, I hope! Thanks for your kind words.

  3. Very sorry to see you go, Sue - and now I am wondering whether I have been here too long too! (wouldn't want to outstay my welcome). I will challenge you to a Scrabble game on Facebook to keep in touch!

  4. Sounds good to me, Veronica!

  5. Oh Aggie, don't go!! Love, love, love your posts. Thanks for your thoughts about simplicity and clarity. So true... And your house and garden look stunning xx


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