Wednesday, September 19, 2012

I am still learning

I read recently that the little sentence ‘I am still learning’ (‘ancora imparo’ in Latin) was one often used by Michelangelo, even in his later years. As well as achieving so much as a painter and sculptor, Michelangelo was also famous as a poet, engineer and architect. He was indeed a lifelong learner, always trying new things, always perfecting his skills and pushing the boundaries.

No, I am not in Michelangelo’s league in any way!  But I definitely relate to that little sentence ‘I am still learning’! In fact, I realised this again only this past week, as I struggled to understand what my daughter was explaining to me about buying a second website domain name and requesting the providers to ‘point the domain’ in a particular direction, according to which company was hosting my new site.
‘Oh, it means if someone pops your domain name into the internet, then the people who hold it will know where to send them ... it's like putting an address on a letter so the postie will know where to deliver it.’

Hmmm ... okaaaay!

Then I began thinking. Since I started my writing journey in 2004, I have learnt many, many new things. Back then, I had no real idea how one was supposed to go about writing a novel. I had studied some English in my original university degree. I had belonged to a couple of writers’ groups over the years. I had attended short courses and seminars at the NSW Writers’ Centre. I had read books and online articles about writing. And I had certainly written a wide variety of things, including teaching materials, studies, sermons, short stories, innumerable essays—and many, many letters. But there was so much more to learn, I discovered. Yet now, having written six novels, I find there are so many more aspects of writing I have yet to grapple with and master. Yes, Michelangelo, I too am still learning.

But it is in the area of book promotion, particularly via the internet, that I have had to learn the most. When I began selling my first novel, I did not even have a website initially. A few years later, I can remember very reluctantly becoming a Facebook convert. In mid-2009, I began my own personal blog and since then have written over 150 posts for that. I then joined a couple of group blogs and began posting there when my turn came around. I also joined Shoutlife and Goodreads somewhere along the line. And now I have an Amazon author page as well. What will be next, I wonder? Not Twitter. I refuse to ‘tweet’!
But my steep learning curve has also extended beyond the internet. Last year, I experienced being interviewed via phone for a couple of radio programs. That was indeed a novelty. Now this year, I took part in filming a book trailer for my upcoming non-fiction book—despite being convinced that is one skill I could well do without.
The things I need to learn never seem to end. Yet would I have it any other way? God has much more for me to do and say and write yet, I believe. So it is up to me to do my best and to follow God’s leading in it all, to listen and learn and trust God will guide and undertake.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your on understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight. Prov 3:5-6
Jo-Anne Berthelsen lives in Sydney but grew up in Brisbane. She holds degrees in Arts and Theology and 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. Her first non-fiction work, Soul Friend: the story of a shared spiritual journey will be released in October and a sixth novel, The Inheritance, in 2013. Jo-Anne is married to a retired minister and has three grown-up children and three grandchildren. For more information, please visit www.jo-anneberthelsen.com.

18 comments:

  1. I love being able to learn new things all the time (apart from the fact that new ground is usually scary). I think I would be quite bored if I had nothing new to discover!

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    1. Totally agree, Amanda! I often say to our kids that I can't understand how anyone can be or needs to be bored, because there are so many things out there to investigate and so many things running around in my head that I need to think about!

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  2. Love that phrase Jo-Anne. Ancora Imparo - something new I've just learned. And I so agree with you. What a learning curve we've been on this last few years! Dare I say we may be a couple of the veterans in this group? (Not in writing experience but life experience). Isn't it wonderful we are still willing and able to learn!

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    1. Yep, Carol, I think we can lay claim to that 'veteran's cap' with complete integrity, considering all we've done and learnt in our lifetimes--particularly in recent years! But what an adventure we have had too! And I agree we need to be thankful we are still able to learn and be willing to do that. God bless.

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  3. When we stop learning we tend to loose life. My Dad was a great inspiration to me when it came to tackling new things. He was 80 when he went to be with the Lord, and until the day he passed he challenged himself with every new experience. He was proficient at the computer, had his own website, was still active in business, and did a tour of Israel. He never seemed old to me, because we always had so much in common and always something to talk about.

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    1. What lovely memories you have of your dad, Rose--so precious. It reminds me of my own grandfather, who figures in various guises in some of my novels! May we inspire our own children in the same way.

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  4. Loved your post Jo-Anne. As I progress through life, I realise more and more how much more I need to learn. What an interesting journey! Like Rose Dee's Dad - my Dad too was exceptional and kept learning. On his 80th b'day he sat for a post graduate exam! :) And he wrote newspaper articles till he died in harness at 90! Rose - your Dad sounded lovely - how much you must miss him! I've realised through my Mum and Dad that learning is a life long exercise and that it continues on and on. It certainly makes life more interesting if not more challenging! :)

    Thanks for including Proverbs 3:5,6 which is one of my favourites, Jo-Anne. It's one I've leant on many times, especially through the times my own understanding wasn't sufficient to get by!
    Blessings,
    Anusha

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    1. Thanks for your encouraging comments, Anusha. Wow, I can see some books emerging when I hear about these wonderful fathers you and Rose had. Just a thought! God bless.

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    2. My Dad was a real character, Anusha, and I certainly get my love for the written word from him. I do miss him, but it's amazing how the Lord has looked after me - though the sadness.

      And - funny you should say that, Jo-Anne. My next release;'A New Resolution' has the theme of fathers and how important they are. As well as God as our heavenly father. It is a very special story to me.

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  5. Oh so very true, Jo! Sometimes I feel like I'm being stretched right out of my comfort zone. Especially the tech stuff. Gone are the days when we authors could simply write and the publishers would handle everything else.

    Still, you get a nice feeling of satisfaction when you learn new things.

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    1. Thanks, Rita. May those nice feelings of satisfaction continue for you! Yes, it would be wonderful to be able to write occasionally and not spend a large part of our efforts on promoting etc but that's just the way it is, so we keep on trying. God bless.

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  6. I have a love-hate relationship with learning new things; I want to know how to do them, but immediately! I don't like making mistakes; but that's possibly how I learn most of my lessons :-)

    A very inspiring post . . . and I am glad there is someone else who refuses to become a 'twit(er)!' Blessings, Helen.

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    1. Thanks, Helen. Yes, it's not fun to be a 'rank amateur' at anything, is it? As you say though, we learn by those mistakes. And I guess we just have to swallow our pride in the process and trust God to lift us up in due time and to give us the strength to continue. God bless!

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  7. I have a love-hate relationship with learning new things; I want to know how to do them, but immediately! I don't like making mistakes; but that's possibly how I learn most of my lessons :-)

    A very inspiring post . . . and I am glad there is someone else who refuses to become a 'twit(er)!' Blessings, Helen.

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  8. Interesting thoughts Jo-Anne. Jo-Anne and Helen, here's another who refuses to become a twit(er.

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    1. I think I have enough things in my head, Dale, without having to bother with anything to do with Twitter! Just today I learnt something more yet again--I can have a channel on YouTube and put my brand new book trailer up there! Think I can handle that--but not Twitter!

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  9. Congratulations! What a wonderful journey you've been on. We're never too old to stop learning.

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    1. Thanks, Lisa! My lovely eighty-two year old mentor and dear friend, who is the ispiration for my latest book 'Soul Friend' agreed to be part of my little book trailers we made recently and she regularly emails me, having been shown how by her daughters. Very inspiring.

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