Showing posts from 2019

Space for us all By Claire Musters

Do you ever feel a little overwhelmed by how many people there are out there writing similar books/poems/devotionals/articles/blogs to you?
I have struggled with this from time to time, and, if I’m honest, particularly when I see social media posts that seem to reveal that they are more successful than I am. 
And yet I had a reminder just last week that we should celebrate one another rather than be intimidated. 
I was at a publisher’s showcase event and, during each of the authors’ talks and again during the Q&A session, the subject of authenticity, particularly being real with each other as Christians, cropped up again and again. 
While I am an introvert and so would never have dreamt of actually doing this, in my head there were countless moments when I wanted to jump up and say: ‘That’s my biggest passion. And that’s what my book is about!’ But then, within the ongoing conversation going on in my mind, I chastised myself, reminding my good self that, while that may be true, I…

That Writing Muscle - and when we forget to exercise it. by Liz Carter

You know that thing we're always being told, about how we need to exercise that writing muscle daily, that if we don't we might lose our edge and get a bit flabby?

Well - that's true, that is. Mostly.

My writing muscle has lost a lot of its muscley-ness over the summer. See, I can't even think of a word so I'm making one up instead. Instead of seeing a blank page as an enticing challenge, it feels more like a block - a scary white space I don't have a clue how to fill.

I have good excuses. I was on holiday. I've been ill. My daughter is off to uni next week and I've been helping her prepare. I had a load of admin to catch up on in my online work and voluntary stuff. But in reality, I could have chosen to spend twenty minutes a day bashing something out in Word instead of scrolling through Instagram.

I lost the flow.

I'm sure I'm not the only one who isn't always the most disciplined in writing, although I'm equally sure many of you are …

Reclaiming the Centre by Keren Dibbens-Wyatt

For most of the past fortnight I’ve been fasting. Not from food, because I’m far too much of a wimp and being chronically ill with blood sugar issues, it would probably not be the best idea in the world. No, I’ve been on a writing fast. Most people go on retreats to write more, not less. But I found that I was putting a great deal of pressure on myself to write every day and whilst I was getting some done, it wasn’t flowing. It was starting to feel like a slog, like crossing something off a to-do list instead of something wonderful.
So I just stopped.
Over the course of the days I did not write, I realised some important things. I had been feeling for a while that I had lost the central focus for my work. Although I had a million* different, amazing, God-given projects, my heart wasn’t in it. It felt like a long, hard, slow, dirgeful trudge, with just the odd glimmer of grace here and there. I decided to let that go and start over. I prayed for the Lord to show me whether writing wa…

Live Creative by Liz Manning

It’s the new TV season and some of my favourite shows are back: Strictly, Celebrity Masterchef, The Great British Bake Off. I love watching people demonstrate their developing skills to produce something wonderful.

I’m a sucker for anything whose title starts ‘The Great…’ – Interior Design Challenge, Pottery Throw Down, Sewing Bee – let alone Sky Arts Portrait or Landscape Artists of the Year or The Victorian House of Arts and Crafts. I have a particular soft spot for judge, Keith Brymer Jones, for whom beautiful results reduce him to tears. 

In America, 14th September is designated Live Creative Day (it’s also National Filled Donut Day but that’s another story!). It’s a time to practise, share, and teach the creative arts, a day I feel that is made for writers and Christian writers in particular.

Why? Well, for a start, the Bible is full to bursting with creativity. 

There’s the overriding theme of God’s own creativity:

‘O Lord, how manifold are your works! In wisdom have you made them al…
Hold This Moment… and Make a Note of ItBy Rosemary Johnson
Mention the Br-word and you’ll clear any room in the UK within seconds.So says everybody.We’re all sick and tired of hearing about Brexit.Hold these thoughts and make a note of them.Who knows what people will be saying even a few months ahead?
Times are troubled, and changing all the time.We don’t know what’s going to happen days ahead, even hours ahead.It’s tempting to hide one’s head in the sand, because it’s scary.(It is.)And to be bored with it.(It’s very boring.)We take sides.Several ACW members are posting on Twitter in support of the Remain camp.Nobody wants to own up to supporting Brexit.Remember this too.
Hold on to the term ‘Remoaner’, whatever your political persuasion.If you write historical fiction, you will have spent hours looking up colloquial phrases in parlance during the period you’re writing about.
Write down the name ‘Laura Kuenssberg’ – in a year or two’s time you’ll have forgotten who she was.Older readers, …

Bonfires societies and writing habits

Guy Fawkes bonfire night celebrations are not here yet, except in Sussex where they begin on the first Saturday in September and continue every Saturday until late November. Why? was my first question when someone at our new church told us about it.

Apparently, it all started in the 16th century with Mary, Henry VIII's Catholic daughter. After she became queen, she tried to stamp out the effects of her father's reformation, burning many protestants at the stake. In response to this, societies were formed and they would process through towns and villages carrying flaming crosses to commemorate those who had become martyrs for their faith and to symbolise freedom of expression. Later, with encouragement by the authorities and the church to celebrate the arrest of Guy Fawkes in 1605, the celebrations eventually expanded to include bonfires, and fireworks and they became common all over the country on 5th November.

Today, the longer version of the tradition is alive and well in m…

Don't say what you mean, by Ben Jeapes

Mark Twain's Pudd'nhead Wilson gets his nickname by just being too clever by half for his audience. When confronted with an annoying dog, he says he wishes he owned half of it. Why? "Because I'd kill it."

This is too much for his listeners, who point out that you can't just kill half a dog without the other half dying too – which is exactly what Wilson was getting at. Too late, the damage is done. He is now officially a pudd'nhead.

No writer can compensate for a thick audience: the trick is in finding their level and still being clever with words to make them strike home. Here is a Franciscan blessing I heard today [link to source here], which after the first couple of lines really makes you sit up and take notice.

May God bless you with discomfort,
At easy answers, half-truths,
And superficial relationships
So that you may live
Deep within your heart.
May God bless you with anger
At injustice, oppression,
And exploitation of people,
So that you may work…

Ode to Stationery

Can you walk past a stationery shop without going inside? I can't. The lure of colourful notebooks packed with thick, creamy paper, and the pull towards the display of heavy, solid fountain pens is just too much. I crave a sharpened pencil and positively drool over the array of erasers sculpted in every shape imaginable. I have to touch and smell each one, breathing in the scent like a woman possessed. 

I'm wondering if I have a problem. I mean, is this normal? Should I be seeking some sort of therapy? Or, perhaps the stationery in itself is therapy for me. Some people love dogs, others prefer sultry, exotic locations, I like stationery; purring over it like a cat savouring a delicious mouse.

In times of stress, when I should be reaching for my bible, my fingers will be drawn to my pen and notebook, the synergy between skin and implement vibrating. The surrounding atmosphere crackling with energy. And, depending on the stationery selected, one can determine my stress levels; a…

Once More With Feeling by Jane Clamp

How do you feel?
It’s a common enough question, isn’t it? Not always easy to answer, admittedly – unless you’re in church, in which case the standard reply is, “Fine, thank you. You?”

What about a slight extension: How do you feel about writing?
That one could open up a whole other discussion – and does, frequently, within our Facebook group and elsewhere.

But the question I really want to ask today is: How do you feel during the process of writing? Or, taken further: what kind of mood do you have to be in to write?

Jane Austen famously said, “I am not at all in a humour for writing; I must write on till I am.” Admirable, I’m sure, and no doubt she met all of her deadlines with that stoic approach, but what of us, lesser mortals?

Are you an emotionally-driven writer? The sort who, in a crisis, pours out your heart on the page? Vast amounts of superb, heart-rending and -mending copy gets produced in such moments, offering relief and healing to writer and reader alike.

Are you the ‘stil…