Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Taking that leap of faith

I remember the day our older daughter began pre-school. I can see her now, eyes wide as she walked in that gate, so excited to be fulfilling at last that dream of hers to get inside those grounds and that building that looked so enticing. I am remembering it because that’s how I feel right now. You see, I’ve just finished editing my next novel and am on the brink of beginning another writing project—and oh, how enticing the prospects ahead are!

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.

16 comments:

  1. A great post Jo. I jumped out of my comfort zone this year and started work on my first novel. I've got a draft of the first 8 chapters, but the road ahead certainly seems daunting at the moment. But as you say, the possibilities are exciting too. Thanks for sharing your journey.

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    1. Thanks, Nola. You know, I for one will be very interested to see that completed novel of yours. Keep going--and may you thoroughly enjoy the ride too!

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  2. Thanks Jo. You described the writing journey much the way I experience it. And it led me to wonder about Creator God and how excited He must get over each new project ... er ... human He works on. :)

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    1. That's such a lovely thought, Amanda, re how our Creator God must feel about us his 'projects'! I believe he delights in each one of us and so much wants us to make those right choices re the 'plots' of our lives. One day in heaven we'll know for sure though. God bless!

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  3. I think about the time involved at times but you can’t put a value on something that is immortalised in print forever. You don’t know where it will go or who it will reach. I guess that is where trusting the value of what we do comes in. It is an exciting journey though.

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    1. I agree, Kayleen. I think that's a great point about valuing what we do--and knowing God has called us to write whatever we are writing sure helps with that. And yes, who knows where our books will get to and who will read them in years to come? What FUN it is being an author!

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  4. It is a bit of a leap - and what I love about it is when I've stopped wondering about publishing possibilities and just enjoy the ride knowing I'm being blessed by the process along the way.
    Thanks for reminding us of the joy of a new project. Now I'm itching to get back into one of mine!

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    1. That's so good to hear, Penny, that you're itching to get into yet another project! I bet after your trip to India you'll have so many more ideas buzzing around in your head as well. I have now started another non-fiction work and already I can feel that deep joy you mention.

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  5. Thanks for that interesting post Jo. It is a leap of faith I agree - and yet, it is also a joyful leap into a playground of excitement too! :)

    I have to agree with Penny - that even more than the publishing process is the knowledge that I am being transformed along the way. I find I discover more of myself and God as I write - and it is such an exciting occupation.

    All the best with your new project, Jo. Seeing how God has blessed your writing before I am sure this one will bless many too.

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    1. Thanks so much, Anusha. I love your image of leaping into a 'playground of excitement'!

      And yes, I agree with Penny too re how God uses our writing to show us so much more about ourselves and to transform us in the process. A sobering but also a wonderful thought. I think the new non-fiction work I have started is going to do a lot of that--can't wait!

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  6. Mmm, yes, a good feeling, Jo. Enjoy the plotting and planning and the ideas that wake you at night!!!

    I'm always encouraged by the knowledge Jesus used stories to get across certain truths to his audience of the many and sometimes simply to the one. I think that's the real joy of writing our inspirational fiction. Yes, we hope it entertains, but more so, we long for it to help our readers in their life journey with Jesus.

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  7. Yes, Rita, I love it that Jesus told so many stories as well. I do have another novel planned and begun, and am looking forward to getting back to that. But for now, I've decided to try another non-fiction work--which I can see already will be quite challenging but also exciting. What fun we have!

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  8. Yes, Jo-Anne, a leap of faith it is, and an exciting journey of creating something new, something worth-while. Best wishes for your new project!

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    1. Thanks so much, Margaret. It IS exciting, isn't it, creating something new that no one else could write exactly the same? Hopefully what I create will be worthwhile too--and even if others don't think that's the case, my own journey in writing it will certainly have been.

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  9. A leap of faith certainly each time, Jo-Anne. All the best with your new project.

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  10. Thanks, Dale. It will be interesting to see how this one unfolds. Who knows if it will ever get to the publishing stage, but we keep on trying!

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