Common sense would tell me I should apply myself to those rough outlines and first chapters of three further novels waiting on my computer. I am not getting any younger (!)—and who else is going to write them if I don’t? Sure there will be many other novels written in the years ahead, but they won’t have my characters in them or the many ideas running around in my head right now! I think I could complete each of these novels—but for me, the bottom line is whether this is actually what God wants me to do.So how do I discover that? The whole picture becomes a little more complex too when I realise afresh how much I enjoy mentoring other women in their walk with God--particularly other authors. Before I began writing, I was part of a local church ministry team. I loved that role and still find myself wanting to care for others in the way I did then. How is this all meant to fit together in my life, now I have reached this ‘mini-crossroads’ point again?
Well, first and foremost, I take time to pray—and listen to God. I have learnt not to make quick decisions but to ‘hasten slowly’, asking God all the while if I am on the right course for my life and in my writing. I read God’s word and journal about that. I know God can speak so clearly through it to me—in fact, my initial call to write came as I was reading some verses from Isaiah 42. I talk the matter over with those close to me. And then I watch as circumstances unfold in my life under God’s hand. By that, I mean I may take the step of submitting a manuscript to a publisher. If it is accepted, I am grateful, but if it is rejected then I accept that too. I have asked God to lead and I need to trust God is actually doing that and will show me the road ahead in these practical ways.But there is something else I try to do as well—and that is to listen my own self! I am learning to recognise what energises me the most and gives me great joy and fulfilment—or, as the American author Frederick Buechner puts it, to recognise the place where my ‘deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet’. I also remember Psalm 37:4 where David writes:
Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Jo-Anne Berthelsen grew up in Brisbane and holds an Arts degree from Queensland University. She has also studied Education and Theology and has worked as a high school teacher and editor, as well as in local church ministry. Jo-Anne loves communicating through both the written and spoken word and currently has five published novels—‘Heléna’, ‘All the Days of My Life’, ‘Laura’, ‘Jenna’ and ‘Heléna’s Legacy’. She is married to a retired minister and has three grown-up children and three grandchildren.