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)
(Photo of page 184 from Enid Blyton's Brer Rabbit Again, (1963) Dean & Son Ltd, London)
“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)
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.”
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 http://www.shortstoryamerica.com/pdf_classics/harris_brer_rabbit.pdf