Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Picking up the pen again by Jo Wanmer

    A couple of weeks ago, interested parties gathered from across Australia and New Zealand. We came together at the Caleb Conference to celebrate writing . It was fun. It was helpful and inspiring. (Wombats are pictured on the left)
     I, however, felt like a fraud. Was I really a writer? Does one award-winning, published book qualify me as a real author? These feelings reminded me of the first time I walked into an Omega Writers meeting. Or tried to walk in. At the door I couldn't enter. I retraced my steps to the car. How could I even think of walking into an author's meeting? Yes I'd typed 80,000 words. Did that mean I could walk through that door? Surely I'd be looked at strangely. 
    However I needed help and lots of it, so I turned and crept in. That was the beginning of loads of encouragement, massive learning, shared expertise, and the birth of a passion for quality writing. 
    Three years later again I fought the same feelings. I haven't written for over a year, except for blogs and a few articles. And I stopped blogging in May. Surely I have disqualified myself. However, as I had prepaid for the conference months earlier, my husband insisted. 'Go! You know you want to write more. You must not give up.'
    Yes, my daughter's circumstances have been difficult and family always comes first. My creative brain was swamped in a sea of medical drama and overwhelming tiredness. I had laid down the pen and walked away.
    Somehow, whilst listening to speakers, sitting in workshops, and praying with friends, my thinking balanced.I have had quite a few articles published. I am more than a freak flash in the pan, more than one amazing God story. That story was the initial impetus, the beginning.
Listening and learning, I came away inspired to write, to get my novel out of mothballs, to push on. A few days later a friend sent me this poster.
     So I am writing. This blog may not be well crafted, but it is here! I must write, write a little every day.
    As soon as I made that decision I was hit from behind my the same medical monster.Two consecutive nights I spent in an emergency department, supporting my granddaughter. Tiredness swamped me. Even today, after 10 hours sleep, my armchair calls me.  As I type, my fingers hit the wrong keys and the page is covered with red lines, highlighting my ineptness.
    At Caleb conference I learnt to stay in the creative brain. Editing is for later. So resisting the urge to silence red squiggles, I continue to drop random letters on the page.
So I have begun. Next an article, maybe a poem and then - watch out book, here I come.


Jo Wanmer writes from an untidy desk in Kallangur, Qld. Her Book 'Though the Bud  be Bruised' won the Caleb unpublished manuscript award in 2011. There are other books, both fiction and non-fiction racing around her head, looking for a way past the brain fag!

33 comments:

  1. I have felt like that for years, Jo!

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    1. You don't look like that, Lyn. And now with two published novels!

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  2. Jo, I can relate to that. I've had lots of short pieces published, but haven't had a book published yet. Can I call myself a writer without a book? I've started the novel and have some other book ideas, but having that book published seems like a long way off. I think everyone at the Caleb conference was called to write, but God has given us different giftings and passions. If we're writing for God's glory, it doesn't matter whether we write the next New York Times bestseller or a paragraph for the church bulletin. God can use all types of writing to reach people. Though I still want to get that book out ;) Thanks for sharing that Jo. Really looking forward to your next novel :)

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    1. Nola, you are one of my great inspirations. I have even written a poem on 'Lightness of being'! Is it good enough to be submitted? I'll see.
      But thanks for the ideas and encouragement. :)

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    2. You're very kind Jo. I just sent two in to that comp yesterday. Good on you for having a go. You've got nothing to lose by sending it (except for the entry fee). And if by chance it doesn't make it into the anthology, you can send it somewhere else and it's bound to find a home.

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  3. Good for you, Jo. Keep writing, keep believing.

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  4. So glad you shared this with us, Jo. And also very glad you've made the first steps to writing again. I pray the process will enervate, excite and renew you. I for one, am looking forward already to what you write next.

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  5. Jo, I can totally relate, too. I went to the Caleb Conference knowing I was a novice, but I had no idea of just how much of a novice I was until that Saturday! At least you had one book published - I have achieved nothing so far in my writing career. I am still reeling in self doubt from my experiences since finishing my first manuscript a few months ago. I am thankful that you wrote this article; it is comforting to know others have walked the path having had similar feelings and experiences. It may yet inspire me to go back and try again. :)

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    1. There is so much to learn, isn't there. But there are also so many willing to help. Be encouraged.

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  6. That poster is so true, Jo. You're doing the right thing. It's similar to living the Christian life. Often we don't "feel" like Christians, but you go on believing in
    what God's Word says by faith. So in writing...You have the gift, so no matter how you feel just keep on as you are one little step at a time.

    God bless you.

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    1. I loved the poster too. Profound comment, Rita.

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  7. Very honest and something we can all relate to Jo. That's what groups like this are for-to encourage and lift each other up, celebrate others' success and to help wherever we can. Praying for your granddaughter's health. Blessings to you and your family.

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  8. Well done Jo for breaking out of that brain fag to bring us a beautiful piece of writing. You were much in my thoughts and prayers this morning so was happy to see your blog when I checked into FB. Fully appreciate the hard time you and your family have been through and feel so much for you. Praying for healing for your precious granddaughter and for strength for your daughter and you as you go through this tough season. May our Father continue to bring many fresh blooms in your life to His glory.

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    1. Thanks Anusha - for your comments and for your prayers :)

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  9. Glad you are able to write again, Jo/. Look after yourself as well as your family. God bless!

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  10. Hi Jo,
    Thanks for sharing this breakthrough. But even if you never follow up Though the Bud be Bruised with another novel, you're still a great writer. Some of my favourite authors of classics wrote only one fantastic book. I'm thinking Emily Bronte with Wuthering Heights and Harper Lee with To Kill a Mockingbird.
    Also, novels are just one medium of good writing. I've been challenged in this area myself recently, writing mostly blog posts and books reviews, so I get where you're coming from.

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    1. Paula! What an encouraging comment. Blessed me. Thanks

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  11. I can relate as well. At the 2012 conference, people kept asking me what I write. Umm. Mostly book reviews. Not exactly in the same league as the award-winning novelists I was meeting!

    It was lovely to see you at the 2013 conference, whether or not you felt you ought to be there. Your story is an encouragement that God will help us through the hard places in life, and you shine God's joy.

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    1. Iola, you may be writing reviews instead of books, but what a help you are to the industry - and we all need reviews. Thanks for your unique contribution.

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  12. This really spoke to me. I can so relate to what you shared. I put down my pen for a season when I had a 3-year-old, a 2-year-old and a newborn. The 3-year-old is now 5, and I still haven't picked the pen back up. It's hard to transition out of a non-writing season and gain confidence in your calling once again. Thanks for sharing this.

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  13. Keep going, Jo! And thank you for being so honest! What really matters is not WHAT you write (novel, or article, or blog post, or anything else), but WHO you write for! Your rewards will come from HIM, and it doesn't matter what others might or might not think about you!

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  14. Good to take up the pen again Jo. I took a couple of decades break between my first completed manuscript and getting back into writing books last year - or rather I wrote other things - University assignments, theology lectures, student manuals and handbooks, promotional material, emails and blogs. Maybe it's all grist to the mill. I've got nothing published yet - so having one published book feels like the summit of Mount Everest to me but I appreciate that no matter how far we come along our writing journey - with one or even ten books published - it is always a climb, there is always struggles and doubt gnawing away at our confidence. Having read Though the Bud - I've no doubt that God has given you a gift and a calling - which will continue to flower in His times and seasons. And whatever happens to a writer becomes resources for our writing :)

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  15. Good on you Jo. Thanks . Self doubt is a killer. But love that quote. Think it is what I need at present along with your article.

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  16. Beautifully written from the heart, Jo. Thank you. I look forward to being moved and inspired by the fruits of your writing ventures. :)

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  17. My goodness Jo, with what you have been juggling, it's no wonder writing got a back seat. All that says to me, is that you are an incredible mother and grandmother, not a fake at all! You are doing what would delight Jesus - caring for others.

    Isn't is true that when we are doing God's will, the normal preconceived idea of scheduled is tossed out the door?

    If you were to never write another thing, Though the Bud be Bruised has, and will continue to touch lives in a powerful way. God put that on your heart to make a difference and it will, just as he did my first book. I said to my husband when I finished Adoptive Father, "If I die tomorrow, I know God has this book to use." It is the same with your book. I am sure there is more burning within you, but we shouldn't discount the incredible influence of even one thing we scribe. Mass production will NEVER replace one word inspired from heaven.

    To add to that I have to say that I cherish our connection, and if not for our chance meeting at a writing event, I would be without one very special lady in my life.

    Better than any word, or book, or anything x

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    1. What an encouragement. Thanks Lovely Lady. x

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  18. As an un-published writer I can certainly identify with those kinds of feelings. It's easy to assume that when I become an author all of those feelings will go away because I'll have crossed that line in the sand. Your honesty in this post is a good reminder to me that our minds will always find an excuse to feel insecure and tell us that we don't belong, so we might as well push through it now.
    Thanks Jo.

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    1. Thanks Adam. I crossed the published line before I'd really begun! I'm sure your determination will get you there.

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  19. So glad you have picked up the baton again, Jo. You are certainly not alone in having such thoughts and feelings of inadequacy. There are days when I feel an absolute fraud! For me, such thoughts come because I'm a slow writer - my output is small - and I'm the most dreadful procrastinator. I always feel a 'real' writer would be much more driven! But the truth is, each one of us is different, with different challenges and different ways of overcoming them. The important thing is that we DO overcome, however it happens. And you have and you will continue. Your calling and destiny is written in the book of your life by the finger of God. Rhonda

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    1. Thanks Rhonda. It is so good to be writing again.

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