Many years ago now I went to my first writers’ weekend conducted by a secular writers’ organisation. I was new to it all and totally overawed by those around me who seemed to know exactly what they were doing. I listened to talks, asked some tentative questions and chatted to a few authors. At least, I tried to chat to them. They were pleasant enough and reasonably helpful – but I came away feeling slightly sorry for them and fervently hoping I would never end up like them. You see, when we talked, I had the distinct feeling they were very wrapped up in themselves and what they had written – perhaps even jealous of others there who had been more ‘successful’ or who had sold more books or won more awards.
Since thave been to quite a few more writers’ events and realised that perhaps many of those attending – even the ‘successful’ authors – may not be as sure of themselves as they appear to be. And I know a little more now, so am not as overawed as I was. Yes, I have definitely changed over the course of my nine year writing journey and of seeing five of my novels published and out there in the market. But how do I myself now come across to other authors or potential authors? Have I become a little proud and self-centred, perhaps even just a teensy bit envious of those whose novels or other works have sold better than mine?
When I began my writing journey, I knew clearly God had called me to do so. I decided my writing would always be God-honouring in every way. I would write as best as I could for God, working hard at it and taking advice on board. I would seek to reach out to others through my novels, particularly those outside church circles. I would write ‘from the heart’ and be very vulnerable in what I wrote, in the hope that others perhaps going through similar situations as my characters would relate strongly to them and be helped or encouraged in some way. And when and if my books were ‘successful’, I would seek to give God the honour and glory and not become puffed up myself. For that reason, I chose to put Psalm 115:1 at the top of the first page of my website:Not to us, O Lord, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness.
But what about now? Was I giving God as much honour and glory as I should? Was I truly remembering that my novels had come into existence because of God’s call and because God had given me any writing gift I had? Was I as conscious of God’s presence around me, encouraging me and cheering me on each day, as I had been at the beginning? Was God still in fact at the very centre of my writing journey?
I have pondered these questions a lot during the past year in particular – so much so that I will be taking a workshop on this whole topic of ‘Keeping God in the writing journey’ as part of the Word Writers’ Fair in Brisbane on Saturday 12th November (see www.thewordwriters.com). I don’t want to be running a race that adds up to nothing in the end. So I am looking forward to sharing the challenges and hopefully helpful insights God has given me in this area and to hearing how others endeavour to keep God first as well.
So ... how are you doing at keeping God in your writing journey?
Jo-Anne Berthelsen grew up in Brisbane and holds degrees in Arts and Theology and a diploma in Education. She has worked as a high school teacher, editor and secretary, as well as in local church ministry. Jo-Anne is passionate about touching hearts and lives through both the written and spoken word. She is the author of five published novels – ‘Heléna’, ‘All the Days of My Life’, ‘Laura’, ‘Jenna’ and ‘Heléna’s Legacy’. She is married to a retired minister and lives in Sydney. For more information about Jo-Anne and her novels, please visit her website, www.jo-anneberthelsen.com.