Monday, 11 May 2020

Bred and Born in a Briar Patch

Mazzy Adams

My mother claimed that her three primary reference books were The Bible, The Australian Mothercraft Book, and Yates’ Garden Guide—in that order. Of course, she read far more widely than that, and she encouraged a love of reading in her children, but those three books perfectly sum up her priorities.

My happiest childhood memories include the hours I spent listening to Mum as she read to me which (at my pleading) she continued to do even when I was perfectly capable of reading the story or book myself.

I still asked her to read to me because I loved the sound of her voice.

And I loved the connection, that wonderful special bond created as I snuggled in under her arm and pressed my cheek against her chest, so I could feel the vibrations of her voice as they resonated through her being into mine.

I not only enjoyed many delightful and exciting stories this way, I absorbed spiritual and moral guidance, lots of useful information, and my mother’s tender love and care in abundance. She prepared me well for my future roles as a mother and a writer.

And a grandmother 😁… 

It’s been hard social distancing from my children and grandchildren (including our newest granddaughter who was born just after the current pandemic distancing regulations were instituted). While I’m generally happy to be a stay-at-homebody, I’m eagerly awaiting that first hug and cuddle when it comes … It’s tough being stuck in one place. 

It’s also tough being stuck for ideas. Honestly, I’ve struggled to do anything that's writing or self-publishing related for weeks. Even when the computer calendar reminded me it was my turn to write a CWD blog, I still felt …


Until I remembered that yesterday was Mother’s Day. Straight away, I could hear my mother’s sweet voice in my head and in my heart, reading stories to me. Stories about Scuppers The Sailor Dog, and The Little Red Caboose

And Tales of Toyland (a gift from my Granddad that came with a rag doll dressed in a blue sailor suit) …

(Photo of page 26 from Enid Blyton's Tales of Toyland, (1963) Dean & Son Ltd, London)

Even tales about Brer Rabbit …

(Photo of page 184 from Enid Blyton's Brer Rabbit Again, (1963) Dean & Son Ltd, London)

Oh my! That feisty rabbit got up to all kinds of mischief. And landed himself in all kinds of trouble. Like the day he fell for a wicked trap set by the wily Brer Fox. Brer Rabbit got himself well and truly STUCK that day—stuck in a very sticky situation.

“Brer Fox went ter wuk en got ‘im some tar, en mix it wid some turken-time, en fix up a contrapshun what he call a Tar-Baby, en he tuck dish yer Tar-Baby en he sot ‘er in de big road, en den he lay off in de bushes fer ter see wat de news wuz gwineter be.” (Joel Chandler Harris, 1904, The Tar Baby and Other Rhymes of Uncle Remus)

Now, at this point I could skew onto a tangent about the pitfalls of trying to reproduce dialect in writing (short answer: don’t do it for a whole host of reasons—I’m quoting this particular version of Brer Rabbit and the Tar-Baby because it’s old enough to be in the public domain).

What I will share is the encouraging nudge I got from the Holy Spirit as I remembered this story.

There’s Brer Rabbit, happily bouncing forward along the road one moment, stuck fast to a tacky tar-baby the next. As I pictured him there, unable to move forward or backward, I felt a strange affinity for the little critter; numerous times in my writing and self-publishing journey, I've felt well and truly stuck.

Stuck with writer’s block (That blurb still refuses to cooperate!).
Stuck with time pressure overload (Even though I love the day job!).
Stuck by an insolent lack of cooperation afforded by the latest technology (Wouldn’t it be nice if everything worked first time?!).
Stuck by my own lack of knowledge (Upskill, they said. It’ll be fun, they said. Oi vey.).
Stuck by circumstances (pesky virus pandemic), rejection letters (it’s okay, really, I’ve moved on), finances (dang, only two months till the annual Adobe CC subscription is due again. Where did the year go?) …

Whether your sticking points are similar or different to mine, I’m guessing you, too, have experienced the frustration of feeling stuck at some stage in your creative, writing, ministry, or other life endeavours.

Here's the thing: Brer Rabbit got himself into a sticky situation because he let frustration get the better of him.

Uh-oh. Light bulb moment!

I realised that letting my frustration get the better of me makes me my own worst enemy when it comes to peace, productivity, and progress. 

“Den Brer Rabbit talk mighty ’umble.”

Point taken. I needed to repent (and I did).

God is so gracious, isn’t he? As I talked to him about my predicament, he reminded me that, although the enemy of my soul seeks to destroy both me and the creative ministry God has called me to, my heavenly father is far greater and wiser than that wily fox.  

I also remembered Brer Rabbit’s response to Brer Fox. Given that Brer Rabbit repeated it for each dastardly, deadly demise Brer Fox devised to despatch the wayward bunny, I could hardly forget it. 

“‘Hang me … drown me … skin me, Brer Fox,’ sez Brer Rabbit, sezee, … ‘But please don’t fling me in dat brier-patch.’”

Now Brer Fox, (figuring to inflict the very thing Brer Rabbit feared most), “cotch him by de behime legs en slung ’im right in de middle er de brier-patch.”

At this stage in my chat with God, I'm cringing just a little, wondering what particular 'briar-patch' I might still have to endure before I can finally escape my stuck state.

Thankfully, Harris's (or Uncle Remus's) tale ends on a high note when Brer Rabbit, who was “Bred en bawn in a brier-patch” uses the knowledge he gained from that experience to escape the fox’s clutches. 

Life isn't always a bed of buttercups. Or daisies. Or even rice with stir-fry beef and veges in sweet and sour sauce. But for many authors (including me) our most satisfying, and perhaps effective writing emerges from the trials and tribulations of adversity. In the midst of life’s brier-patches, we discover, and learn, how to survive and thrive.

What lessons have you learned from life’s tempting tar-babies and sticky situations, and the unlikely briar-patches that have helped to set you and your creativity free? 

Quotes taken from Joel Chandler Harris, 1904, The Tar Baby and Other Rhymes of Uncle Remus retrieved 10th May, 2020 from

Mazzy Adams is a published author of poetry, fiction and creative non-fiction. She has a passion for words, pictures, and the positive potential in people.


  1. Great post, Mazzy. I’m working on a long and urgent project so I had to find a way out of my sticky situation sooner than later. I lost three weeks due to Covid-brain, which has nothing to do with infection and everything to do with the stressors you mentioned above. My recommendation is to complete something even if it’s poor writing. Eventually the brain will kick into gear again. I love the briar patch analogy. With writers our briar patch is our work. Throwing ourselves into it is the only way I know to get rid of the stickiness.

    1. Thanks Sue. Yes, it was an eye-opener for me to see the apparent challenges and discomforts and briar-patch prickles as effectively creating a way to freedom. Strangely comforting too. I might be less reluctant to deal with the obstacles and more gung-ho moving forward as I remember Brer Rabbit's example, wherein a little sass for a good cause goes a long way! And I get the Covid-brain thing too; like an unexpected violent tackle coming from behind slapping our brains to mush in shock. Glad to know you've picked yourself up and are pressing forward with your projects. Much better to throw ourselves at the goal by choice.

  2. Thanks Mazzy, what beautiful reminiscences :) I hope you get to see your new baby granddaughter very soon. I think my tar babies look similar to yours. I agree with what Sue says above, that putting aside definite time to throw ourselves into our work is our briar patch, but pictures and encouragement such as you've just given sure helps to sweeten it too.

    1. Thanks Paula. I loved pulling out those old books from my childhood - and making pretty or pertinent pictures suits my passion for visual learning! I'd love to do much more with images, but ... all in good time, as priorities permit. There's a glimmer of possibility that grandbaby cuddle time is almost here. Actually, one thing that helped me was remembering that, due to distance, my mum had to wait five months before she could hold our firstborn. It helped me to focus on the positives like being able to Facetime, and indulge my MaMa heart viewing the plethora of photos and videos digital photography enables. We are very blessed in that regard.

  3. Thanks for sharing that sticky issue with us, Mazzy. One of the reasons my novel took 7 years is that I kept writing myself into corners and didn't know how to get out. Many times I was frustrated because I didn't know what to do, but God would give me little nudges just when I needed it, and often at seemingly random times - like in the shower or when I was doing something completely different. There'd just be a little idea like 'look up such and such' or 'what if he/she goes there' or 'what if that happens'. Bit by bit it got unstuck. It would be lovely if everything just fell in our laps, but you're right that God uses those difficult patches. Looking forward to reading lots more of your brilliant unstuck words.Thanks for sharing xx

    1. Thanks Nola. God nudges are the best. (Though occasionally it takes more of a shove to get our attention.) I'm looking forward to reading about your heroine's journey and the sticky situations she endures. Our characters are all the more real when, one way or another, we've 'been there, done that' in dealing with conflict and issues. For the last couple of weeks, I've returned again and again to Psalm 138. So many encouraging verses in it ... v3 "In the day when I called, You answered me; and You strengthened me in my inner self" ... v7 "Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me; You will stretch forth Your hand against the wrath of my enemies, and Your right hand will save me." But the stand out words for me have been from v8 "The Lord will perfect that which concerns me." His doing; his way. :) And your last comment sent a thrill through my spirit at the thought of unstuck words being set free to touch and bless others. Woohoo!

  4. Hi Mazzy, I remember the story of Brer Rabbit and the tarbaby from my childhood quite well. Some great lessons to be learnt. Thank your for sharing them with us.

    1. Thanks Jenny. Some stories transcend time in the power and validity of their message (even if the political correctness police arrest them and send them to coventry on account of their original presentation). Then again, I'd like to think that a message penned from a pure heart will always find other pure hearts eager to receive it. :)