Thursday, May 22, 2014

Confessions of a published non-writer by Jo Wanmer

I'm not a writer. I didn't dream about writing books when I was a kid. There are no old notebooks filled with amazing pieces of brilliance. I preferred Maths to English in upper high school and failed at creative writing. I've not heard of lots of the classics,  much less read them. My spelling is atrocious. My vocabulary is limited. I’m a people person. By nature I love working on projects with people.

So why, oh why do I spend countless hours, sitting at a keyboard, hitting all the wrong keys in an effort to produce a great novel?

On the weekend, I realised most of my life expectations have never eventuated. They weren't big things, just normal Aussie dreams. God has been pulling them out of my dream closet and making me look at them. He seems to think it is time they were discarded, in the same way my sewing materials and knitting needles should be. They belong to a former life. In a way I'm sad, but in my heart I know they won't be used again. The grey nomad crawl around Australia went years ago. Now God is shaking the dust off worldly financial security, perfect family and eternal youth.

Really Jo, do these need to be taking room in your dream closet?

Old life expectations must be discarded to make way for new visions. Yesterday at the beach I buried them and worshipped my King. Now I wait to see what he is going to add to the dream closet.

Over the last ten years, God has been planting new dreams within me. They are much bigger and not as comfortable as the old ones. The others were possible. The new appear impossible, but so full of promise.

I never purposed to be an author, yet about ten years ago, pushed by the Holy Spirit, I set a goal to write ten books. I assumed they would be solid non-fiction, Christian life books. I knew the first one would be about our victory through the horror of abuse. Yet every effort to write was disastrous until I tried fiction. Now I must face the evidence. I am not a writer and yet my name is on a published book, a faction.

After its publication, I started another novel. But my self-opinions stalled it.
‘You can’t make up plots. What do you know about writing? Your characters are pathetic. You should do research (I hate it!) and the big one – who do you think you are to write what God thinks and feels? I filed it under ‘vain attempts’ and turned my thoughts to a non-fiction which hasn’t progressed past the title.

After the Caleb conference last year, the Lord pushed me back to the book He had named El Shaddai in 2012. With the momentum of NaNoWriMo I found my creative brain pumping and discovered I could write a novel, well together  with God, I could. One memorable day I found my protagonist locked in a hut in the bush. As the book is written entirely from her point of view, the story ground to a sudden halt. I left the manuscript overnight, flummoxed.

The next morning I told God I’d remove her from the hut with the delete button because we must have made a mistake. But He pushed me to continue and we found important plot clues hidden in the hut. I didn’t know they were there, but He did.

Living God’s dreams is exciting, if challenging. Sometimes I look at the life I thought I'd have and compare it with the one I find I'm living. One is comfortable and predictable. The other is challenging, demanding and surprising. I will admit I sometimes yearn for the former, where things were tidy and organised, but I laid it down years ago. So forgetting what lies behind (buried it in the sand) I press forward into my calling. I guess that means the third booking is coming! I know the theme, the protagonists, the settings. It is all overwhelming, but my co-writer seems to know what He’s doing and is pulling me forward with great excitement.

My final confessions - now, I love writing novels.

Jo and Steve Wanmer live in beautiful South East Queensland. Today they are celebrating forty-three years of marriage. Jo loves to read books that deal with the tough, personal issues of life, where the protagonist learns to overcome her weaknesses and difficulties. He first book, Though the Bud be Bruised, has bought insight and healing to many.

17 comments:

  1. That's a great post Jo. I can relate to much of that. I've regarded myself as a writer for a while, but fiction was always my weak point. While studying for a Grad Dip in Creative Writing, I discovered that I actually could write fiction. God gave me the idea for a novel and I'm now 23 000 words in. I'm enjoying it, but it's a hard slog. Who am I to write fiction? But God keeps giving me the ideas for the next bit. I can also relate to the bit about dreams. We had to say goodbye to a big dream a while ago, but God has been opening up other opportunities. It's great to remember that He knows our dreams and desires, but that He always has in store something that will be best for us. Thanks for sharing. Look forward to seeing books 2 and 3.

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    1. Thanks Nola. It is exciting walking with God and in His purposes isn't it?

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  2. Thanks, Jo. God bless as you take that less comfortable challenging journey!

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    1. Thanks Jo-Anne. I'm following behind many who have made the way - you included.

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  3. Thanks Jo. This spoke to me and has given me something to ponder. Love ya.

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    1. Blessings on you Amanda. Love you too.

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  4. Hi Jo! I read 'Though the Bud be Bruised' a couple years ago and thought it was completely outside my usual reading habits, I couldn't put it down. When I spotted your name at the top of this post I knew I had to read it! That's awesome to see a bit about your journey with God. He's been teaching me some similar things lately.

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    1. Hi Jessica. Thanks for reading my book. Its fun to walk with God and grow with Him. May He bless you heaps.

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  5. Hi Jo,
    Thanks for your honesty about something which is so easy to be put aside. Writing can be one of the most discouraging occupations and I believe fiction has special challenges. I'm sure God's hand must be in many novels brought to completion just because it is such a challenge to tackle alone. I hope your work on El Shaddai is still going well.

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    1. Paula, you're the pro! You've written so many. I worked hard on hte manuscript for a few weeks and then entered it in Caleb. It can wait for a while now. I'll re-read in about 4 months and see....

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  6. That was a great post Jo! Loved it. Well done on handing that dream list to God to do as He pleases. Look how much he has used a non-writer like you???? May He continue to inspire you and craft many beautiful books through you.

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  7. Thanks Anusha - and may He continue to use you to inspire others.

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  8. Great post Jo. I love the way God brings out dreams we didn't even know we had. You've just given me an idea for a blog post down the track.

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  9. Thank you Jo, it's really inspiriting to hear stories so raw and honest like that, and it truly does inspire others to follow in the same footsteps. You're an inspiration!!! And I really loved the illustration about our dream closets…and how sometimes we need to air them out. Often in the past we believe that they're God's dreams for us and because he is unchanging, that they can't be….but often our dream closets are filled with just our expectations in life and I think its true, we need to sometimes pull them out and review them. Thanks again Jo! Love it

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  10. I had to Google protagonist.. thats how much I know.. lol..
    great post.. very similar in some ways to my journey.. I'm a dreamer.. Not a writer. And the Lord will direct our creative paths as ee surrender them to Him.

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  11. Hi Jo. Great post. I loved your 'dream closet' - I've had to retire a few in recent years but believe God has given some 'new dream clothes' with writing these last few years. But I think the important thing is our relationship with God. Sometimes our dreams can get in the way and we can forget that.

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