Perhaps you’re about to embark on writing your first full length work or perhaps you’ve been in this place before. Whichever it is, I have found the feeling is the same. It’s that mind-blowing moment when your brain almost explodes with possibilities, when this or that story races through your head, when one delicious scenario after another pops into your brain in full technicolour—or perhaps even 3D with surround sound or whatever it is these days! It’s that exciting stage when your characters start to take shape and you begin to fall in love with them, treating them as real people—which of course any author knows they are! It’s that instant when you sense yourself almost bodily being drawn into that vortex of plot and character development and point of view and setting until you begin to lose touch with reality—at least for a few delicious moments.
All that presupposes the particular project at hand is a novel. Yet I found the same thing with my non-fiction book Soul Friend, released last year. I can still feel the excitement as those chapters unfolded and I saw how I could move ahead with the whole idea. I began to envisage how I could perhaps encourage others to find a soul friend or spiritual mentor of their own or to be that person for someone else. I felt almost overwhelmed with the thought that God could possibly use my own journey with my spiritual mentor to speak into someone else’s life. What a joy and privilege!
And yet ... and yet it can all be just a wee bit daunting too at this point. It’s now that I begin to wonder what I am even thinking of, committing myself yet again to months and months—perhaps even years—of hard slog to bring that next book to fruition! With fiction writing, it’s a wonderful experience to be able to breathe life into those characters that, prior to this, have existed only in my imagination. But there’s a lot of hard work involved too. On some days, the words will come only with great difficulty and I will grope for how to move my characters from Point A to Point B. On other days, whether writing fiction or non-fiction, my fingers will hardly be able to keep up with my brain as they fly across the keyboard, spilling those words onto the screen.
All up, this writing journey is a big leap of faith, isn’t it? As Christian authors, we may know it’s what God wants us to do, but it still requires that leap from us. Yet when we take that leap, we know we will land in the hands of our awesome God who has promised to be with us through it all.
And that makes all the difference, don’t you think?
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 and editor, 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—and one non-fiction work, Soul Friend: the story of a shared spiritual journey. Her sixth novel, The Inheritance, will be released in September. 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 or www.soulfriend.com.au.