Friday, 18 November 2011

Resilient Heroes

After a wonderful four days in Brisbane, I'm home again. Having taken in the CALEB Awards dinner, Writers Fair and presented a Masterclass on my first three days there, I had a bit of down time to spend on Monday and decided to visit the city. I caught the bus in to the CBD and covered so much of Brisbane on foot, my toes were blistered. I explored the Queen Street Mall and strolled along the river bank watching ferries, river cats and a couple of paddle steamers. I found a great mangrove boardwalk which brought me close to the Botanic Gardens.

As I did all this walking, I couldn't help thinking about the horrific floods that swept through last January, devastating the ground I was stepping on. The river-front Jelly Fish restaurant had a spiel on their window about how they needed to put on flippers and snorkels to get to work and had to battle with octopuses and squid in their kitchen. I found it awesome that they were able to recover from a catastrophe of such magnitude and resume business with their senses of humour intact.

I remembered how I'd watched the TV coverage with disbelief, and when Queensland Premier, Anna Bligh, had addressed the nation with tears in her eyes, assuring viewers that they would all recover and bravely build their lives back again 'because they were Queenslanders'. With all of this in mind, and coming from South Australia, I found my walk deeply moving. God has filled human nature with heroism and resilience.

It doesn't take a natural disaster of this scope to draw the quality out of people. As writers, drawing on reserves of grit and determination is a way of life. We sit at our computers, we devote hours to honing our craft, determined to use our written words as an art form to bless others with what we find in our hearts. Some authors paper their walls with rejection slips from publishers, but keep plugging on.

We take on board feedback from editors, often starting all over again. We slash out entire scenes, we shuffle events in our stories around hoping to increase the tension, we groan at the sight of red marks all over our work but get stuck in to making changes. We pore over Thesauruses in the attempt to find that elusive word which is even more perfect than the one we've originally chosen. We ruthlessly pluck out extraneous words and scan each line carefully for those subtle 'point of view' violations within scenes. We re-phrase huge sections because we realise we've been 'telling' rather than 'showing' in our stories. Then when it's all polished to our satisfaction, we venture out trying to promote our work, often cringing at public places while folk give our books cursory glances, shrug their shoulders, wish us luck and move on.

I was overwhelmed last Friday night to be presented with the CALEB Award for my novel, Best Forgotten. My knees were knocking together so hard, I could barely stand. I'd be surprised if I got a wink of sleep that night. For me, this honour was the culmination of years of hard work during which I often felt like a complete duffer. Writing was a sacrifice in both time and finances. Even earlier this year, I found myself wondering if I should stop, but decided to keep going because I have so much passion and emotion tied up in it. Like many others who read this blog, I'm prepared to accept the uphill climb because I'm a writer.

Thanks to everyone who has congratulated me, and I'm delighted to especially thank my publisher, Rochelle Manners, because Best Forgotten wouldn't even be available without her, of course. She has been too awesome for words, and we all know that coming from somebody who works with words every day, that is saying a lot.

To my fellow writers, keep being resilient. I appreciate you all.

Paula Vince is an award winning fiction novelist and homeschooling mum who lives in the Adelaide Hills with her husband and children. She believes that stories are a particularly powerful medium to touch hearts and help change lives.


  1. Paula, what a beautiful post! Many congratulations on your wonderful success. You're an inspiration and true example, and I'm honoured to share the same 'uphill' you, and so many others here, climb.
    Dotti :)

  2. Hi Dotti,
    Thanks for your friendship and ever encouraging voice :D

  3. Thank you Paula. I can relate to this—except for the happy ending, so far! Your point connecting the need to struggle with the human ability to do so is well made. And it's always good to hear that there can be light at the end of the tunnel! Congrats, too.

  4. Hi Paula
    You are just awesome!
    As a Queenslander I was touched by your empathy for our city's experience. I guess it is your understanding of emotions that penetrates your books, making them such good reads. I'm glad you're encouraged
    Thanks for the masterclass. I really enjoyed it and found it helpful and encouraging. Jo xx

  5. Onward and upward, Paula. The only other choice is to sit back and be boring!
    Looking forward to your next exciting novel.
    Keep at it, as you're a very good writer, and I'm sure, one of these fine days, we will break into that elusive international market where everybody will read and love your work.

  6. Hi Paula,
    Congratulations, well done.

  7. Nice post Paula, It would be good to see the recovery of the city after the devastation in Jan. Once again congrats on the Caleb Prize.

  8. I was thrilled to bits for you at the CALEB dinner. You really deserved to be there! Keep on with the awesome writing. XXOO

  9. Thanks everyone.
    Peter, you just never know when that light will appear.
    Jo, I really had an amazing walk through Brisbane and am glad you enjoyed the masterclass too. It was great to catch up with you in person.
    Meredith, what a great day that will be, when we do crack that international market.
    Jennifer and Jenny, thanks ladies, for your good wishes.
    Amanda, it was an excellent evening and I'm glad you were at my table to give me tips about appearing calm and cool, lol.

  10. Congratulations Paula. Your novel is another I will have to add to the 'must read' list that I am compiling from this site. Thanks also for the terrific description of the life of the writer and the reminder of the resilience needed to succeed.

  11. Hi Paula,
    That was a great post! Thank you. Many warm congratulations to you on your well deserved success. I felt so happy hearing how you had been wondering if you should do something different this year because of the financial situation. What confirmation from Him to keep on keeping on! :) Obviously God has other ideas for you and is taking you places you haven't been to before.

    Well done on all the mountains you have climbed as a Writer. Am sure you would have known it is all worth it, that night when you claimed the Caleb Prize. I rejoice with you.

    Thanks also for acknowledging the rest of us. Some of us will never 'get there' in a big way - but what a joy we have in being faithful to our calling. We are a blessed bunch I think - even if a little crazy! :)
    Thanks Paula!

  12. Thank you Paula, for the encouraging post and encouragement to me as well. I know that this journey for us writers, editors and publishers (yes even publishers) is an uphill one. But when the books we produce is enjoyed, loved and touches those that read it, well it makes it worth it too. Keep it up all! :)

  13. Great post Paula. So nice to read your words now having spoken to you face to face. It was a great experience for all of us writers to be together for the writer's fair - such an encouragement - and yes we all need to keep up that resilience and help each other to do so.

  14. I guess sometimes I don't think of things other people have been through, the devastation that ruins everything.
    I go through times and I wonder how I can get through one more day. Can I continue on but God wants me to keep trusting Him. Is my experiences going to be a way to do what I believe I am called to be/do.
    He holds us through the hard times and the times when we are thinking we are wasting time. He has given us this blog to encourage us when we feel things are too much.


  15. Debbie, please do add it to your stack. I have a similar pile after last weekend.
    Anusha, you're right, let's keep the mutual support going strong.
    Rochelle, I'm sure it's a particularly uphill climb for publishers :)
    Carol, it was so great to meet you and "Charlotte's Angel" is on my soon-to-read list now I have my hands on it.
    Mel, I echo your sentiments completely.

  16. Congrats Paula!! You are a wonderful storyteller and very deserving of this award :) And I'm glad you've received encouragement to keep going on this wild and crazy writing journey!

  17. Many Congratulations Paula.

  18. I can really relate to the natural disaster analogy. I'm originally from Ingham where a major flood runs right through the main street every few years. The thing with natural disasters is that all that devastation eventually produces renewal. Writing is like this too isn't it? If we perservere and wait on the Lord we will experience a renewal. I know that this well deserved accolade will fill your encouragement cup to the brim and that the strength of your talent will be renewed.

  19. As long as your hand rests in God's, no obstacle can prevent you from using the writing gift God has given you to bless others. He is the God of the 'impossible' - and your real treasures will await you in glory. My heartfelt congratulations, Paula!

  20. Congratulations Paula, "Best Forgotten" is a great read!

    This is an exciting time for all of us to be Australian Christian writers and I am proud to be associated with you and all the other wonderful writers I have met at the Word Writers Fair or here at CW Down Under etc!

  21. Thanks very much for your kind wishes and friendship, everybody. I appreciate everybody who takes the time to comment more than I can say.
    May God bless you all.

  22. Your success is an encouragement for us all. When one does well we all do well. We are blessed.
    Asta x

  23. Thanks Asta. I love those sentiments :D

  24. Congratulations again!!
    Loved spending time with you over the weekend.
    Haven't walked thru Bris since the floods, I must do that, it was a very scary moment in time.