Monday, 28 October 2013

The Exam Paper by Anusha Atukorala

For close to 15 years I’ve written a long newsy email to my Mum each night. She’s done the same – written a long newsy email to me. We never run out of things to ‘talk about. As I enjoyed her email last night I chuckled over a certain paragraph. Here it is.

“Before I go to bed, I must tell you about another strange dream I had. I saw a list of questions typed as if for an exam paper. When I read No.1, this is what it stated: "Describe, in sequence, the beauty of the Magnificent Seven". And I woke up with that. What do you make of it? Could "in sequence" mean, in order, from Ranmali down to you? And is it the beauty of each of your characters (not to mention your faces), that I have to describe? Wow!”

I can’t help but laugh out loud as I read it. What an interesting examination! What an interesting question! ‘Describe in sequence the beauty of the Magnificent Seven’. “The Magnificent Seven” is the name my 6 siblings and I called ourselves when we were young. Many decades on, we are still ‘The Magnificent Seven’ – grown up now with our own magnificient babies who also have grown up.

I’ve been reflecting on four words from her ‘Exam paper’. Describe, Sequence, Beauty & Magnificent. Here are a few questions for us to ponder on today.

If I described my own journey in one sentence it would be something like this: An amazing God breathed adventure, writing stories and creating books, composing songs and scribbling poems; seeking to please my God and to bless my world through my writing.

Have you enjoyed your writing journey? Has it taken you places? Were there any frustrations? 1. How would YOU describe your journey?

The sequence of events that made me a Christian writer was simple. I loved to write from the time I was little. And did. But I travelled on a long meandering path at first – Lab Technician, Computer Programmer, Full time Mum, Volunteer - were some of the detours I trekked on. Till one beautiful day God tapped on my shoulder. He soon led me through a magical door into the enchanting world of Writing. Being a Christian writer has been thrilling, energising and deeply fulfilling. I love it. I love it. I love it!

2. What sequence of events led you into your own calling as a Christian writer?

We Christian writers have stories to share. Stories that spring from our imaginations. Stories that happen to us. Stories that are versions of real life situations. Stories that are yet to be told. The Christian life is filled with beauty, truth and goodness. You and I know the Source of these three commodities don’t we? I see so much beauty around me through my Creator’s Handiwork that I love adding beauty into my writing.

3. Do you intentionally weave beauty into your stories?

I believe you and I have a magnificent calling; don’t you? We are called to share Him with the world. We each do it through different genres it’s true – but we use just the one amazing tool. Words. The Word Himself is what it’s all about after all. And so we writers are unique. We get to use words just as He did. The world was breathed into existence through a word from the Word? So yes, I believe it’s a truly magnificent calling.

4. What do you find magnificent in your own writing journey?

Lest your head is spinning after reading all my questions, let me hasten to add that no, it is NOT an exam paper. So you don’t need to answer any questions… unless you like to. May there be beauty in your writing journey. May there be magnificent moments in your life with God. May there be joy! May our Creator God help us as we seek to create new stories inside the One Amazing Inspiring Story of God.

Anusha Atukorala is a writer with a passion. Jesus turned her world right side up since He entered it almost 4 decades ago. He has given her a song in her heart and she can’t help but share it with the world. Please visit her at her website ‘Dancing in the Rain’ to say Hello and to dance in the rain with her.


  1. Anusha, what a magnificent post and what a wonderful family you have. You're always so encouraging. That post lifted me up today. I'm not sure if I can answer all of your questions, but I'll say a little about my writing journey. I've been a creative person ever since I was a toddler, but music was my first main creative outlet. I played guitar, sang and wrote songs from an early age. At high school, English was my best subject and I started writing poetry. I always had it in my mind that I would write books one day, but I was still more into music. Then I got into art for a while (watercolours and acrylics), though that's not my main gifting. The writing was still in the background, but I wasn't doing much with it.

    Then about 12 years ago, I was invited to contribute a chapter to the book "The God Factor: 50 Scientists and Academics Explain Why they Believe in God". The invitation came out of the blue and I wrote a personal story which was included in the book. I thought that was nice, but didn't think it would go any further. Then some years later, I had another invitation asking if part of that story could be included in one of the Australian Stories books. It finally dawned on me that I could actually write personal pieces that could be published. So I started learning all I could about writing and began sending out more material - poetry, devotions, and true stories mainly and they kept getting published. This really rekindled the creative side of me. I felt God saying that He wanted me to write but that he also wanted me to encourage others to write, so that's what I've been doing since. I continue to be amazed at what God can do in the lives of people through our writing. Thanks for being a great example of that Anusha. Blessings.

    1. Hi Nola,
      Thanks so much for reading and thanks heaps for taking time to respond in full. Loved reading what you had to say. I can well believe that you've been creating since toddlerhood (just picturing you there running around in your nappies! :) ). I see we have much in common. I too played the guitar and sang and wrote songs from my teens. Perhaps we need to do some singing together one day??? :) I too wrote poetry like you. Awesome!

      Art is not something I could do - so there you've got me. Sounds like you might be able to use both your art and your writing one day? What do you think?

      I do remember the book you wrote for - in fact we have a copy somewhere in my house. I hunted for it when I heard you had written an article for it. I still haven't found it sad to say. But I'd love to read your piece. I'm so excited to read how God lead you Nola. May He continue to do that in a fresh way in the next few years - and may He do much to bless His world through your writing in the days ahead. Thanks for encouraging me too.

    2. Thanks Anusha - I think I was in some of the same Australian Stories ones that you were. Think I had 7 or 8 in altogether. I'll have a look and see if I can find some of the electronic copies. And singing together would be great. Art's not my main talent, but I like dabbling. Take care my friend :)

    3. Hi again Nola,
      The book I was referring to was the 'Fifty Scientists' book - I had read the stories - but I heard much later that you were on of the Authors in the book - so was eager to re-read it. Unfortunately the book seems to have disappeared - or is lost somewhere on our bookshelves. Yes please - if you do have an Electronic version I'd love to read it. Thank you.

      You have been blessed with many a creative gene I see. I am awed at your artistry - since I couldn't draw to save my life! :)

      Thanks for all your encouragement my friend. God bless and take care. xo

  2. I love the joy that emanates through both you and your writing, Anusha--thanks so much. And what a great 'Magnificent Seven' family too! How wonderful that you and your mother email each other like that each evening--it brought back memories of how, way before the days of emails when living interstate, I used to write a very long, weekly letter home to my mother after our three young children had gone to bed. I believe those letters were part of my journey of being a writer today--God uses everything in our lives. As to how I would describe my own writing journey--just an amazing gift from God, with all sorts of privileges attached! God bless.

    1. Hi Jo-Anne. Thanks for encouraging me so much through your words. Bless you. Lovely to hear about you writing a long weekly letter home to your Mum after your little ones had gone to bed in the old days. I'm sure your Mum eagerly looked forward to that letter. As you said - I'me sure God did use those letter - nothing is ever wasted is it? And seeing what a lot you have accomplished in the short time you've been writing - I would say yes, those letters were part of that creative journey. I loved how you described your writing journey. I'd have to agree it's been mine too. God bless and thank you.

  3. Thanks so much Nola and Jo-Anne for your very encouraging responses. Bless you. I am off to work now so can't dally but will get back to you in the evening to respond to my responses. I look forward to it. Made my day to see two lovely writers had already read and responded to my blog! Have a great day and God bless.

  4. A beautiful post, Anusha, that not only touches on calling, but on identity and belonging. I have a wonderful sister-in-law who, just now, in her 60's, is meeting sisters for the first time - what a delight it was for me to read her post today: 'I had never expected anyone to look so like me. Her journey through the maze of her adoption has not been an easy one. So close to the emotion of it, I have found the issues of identity and belonging surfacing as themes in stories I'm working on. To know where we 'fit' in the overall scheme of things is so fundamental to our peace and wellbeing.

    Like you, I've done lots of other things in life, coming to writing later on. Yet I feel as though I am finally in the place where I 'fit'. God has led me on a journey where I've finally been able to meet my writing 'siblings'. What a joy it is to be a part of that 'magnificent mob' who share the creative DNA endowed by our loving heavenly Father.

    1. Thank you so much for your encouraging words Cathie. Thanks also for sharing your sister in law's story. How amazing it would have been for her to meet her sisters after so many decades. Wow! I think our issues of identity is so crucial, don't you? I'm glad you are using the theme of identity and belonging in your stories. You are very right that we need to have that sense of 'fit' in order to make sense of life and to live with peace in our hearts.

      I'm so happy to hear that you like me have finally found a place we call home in our 'writing'. I feel the same. Loved the way you ended about being part of that magnificent mob who share the creative DNA with our heavenly Father. We are blessed indeed. Thanks so much for sharing.

    2. And it's great to have you in "The Clan" Cathie. Will have a chat to you about your sister-in-law's stuff at some stage. Take care.

  5. I really enjoyed reading your post Anusha and your questions started me thinking again about my own journey. So I'm going to have a go at answering them. It never entered my head that I could be a writer until I was in my early 50s, but in saying that I have certainly enjoyed the experience. While there have been frustrations, knowing that our magnificent God has chosen me for this path for the rest of my life makes even the frustrations worthwhile. It's all a huge learning curve and I love the fact that He is continually teaching me through what I do for Him.

    I have been an avid reader all my life - courtesy of parents who encouraged me to read from early childhood. I gained a very healthy respect for writers and how they crafted their stories but never thought that I would see my name on the front cover of a book until one day I was asked to write a book for a cousin who was journeying through the justice system after the horrific murder of his daughter. I had been helping him (he struggles a bit with dyslexia) in writing letters to politicians, judges, newspapers etc. He must have been impressed with the letters hey! Needless to say I thought he was more than slightly demented but he encouraged me to think and pray about it. To make a long story short, God finally, and miraculously got through to me that it was what He wanted and the rest as they say is history.

    Do I intentionally weave beauty into my stories? Yes I do - and I try to include hope and encouragement especially.

    I find magnificence in the gift of writing itself where I get to partner with the Holy Spirit on a very intimate level. The stories I write are biographical in nature and I get to 'crawl around inside people's heads' to find out what makes them the way they are and what makes them respond the way they do to the circumstances that life has thrown at them. I am challenged in ways that I never thought I'd be challenged. I have been blessed to be able to assist others in their writing journey through sharing my experiences. I was first asked to share with a group of Christian professional women called 'Beyond the Glass Ceiling' after my first book was published. My audience told me how they were so blessed by how we writers portray our stories, whether fiction or non-fiction. My eyes were opened to the responsibility we hold as writers to bring hope, encouragement and so much more to others through the precious and powerful gift of words that we have been given.

    One more thing - I get to meet other wonderful writers like yourself - and be blessed by what they do with their own special brand of writing.

  6. Hi Lesley,
    Thanks so much for not only reading but also sharing your story with us. Loved reading about it. So you are like me in finding our writing niche late in life. So much the better for it too since it's like life's begun for me afresh in my 50's. :)

    I'm so sorry to hear of your cousin's dreadful experience - how does one recover from such a trauma? Bless you for writing his story. That's awesome that you took it on and did it. I know you would have blessed him deeply and also brought justice in some form to him and his family.

    I do agree that it is magnificent to be able to partner with the Holy Spirit as we write for Him. Crawling around other people's heads must be a very interesting experience I should imagine - and seeing God has called you to it, I am sure He has blessed you with lots of empathy. What's the name of your 1st book Lesley? Well done on all your writing adventures. I agree with you that meeting other beautiful creative folk (like yourself) is all part of the excitement of our journey. I wish you well for it. And thanks again for sharing.

    1. Thanks Anusha - the title of my first book was 'Halfway to Justice' and was released in 2005. This book was aimed at the trade market in the true crime genre.

      We released the story again in 2009 in a Christian version titled 'The Power of Forgiveness' because there was a final twist in the tale which completed the story in a most unexpected way.

      Both books were published by New Holland Publishers. Both books have been released as e-books still available through Amazon on Kindle.

    2. Thanks Lesley. How amazing that there was a final twist in the tale completing the story unexpectedly. Awesome! I will look out for them. Well done on your books and may God continue to use your writing for His glory.

  7. Just arrived home from a busy w/end ministry in Dubbo, a country town. Enjoyed your post as usual Anusha.

    God bless!

    1. Thanks for finding time to both read and comment Rita. Glad to hear of your action packed ministry weekend too. Good on you! :)

  8. Thank you, Anusha. Very encouraging, as usual, although in a sense it makes me feel like I am NOT a writer. I write encouragingly, yes. But not weaving in beauty. Not wordy. No great flights of imagination. Just writing as a result of my quest for biblical truth. As you can see, I am definitely not a novelist :)

  9. Oh Margaret. I'm sorry if the blog made you feel that you were not a writer. Of course you are a writer and a very good one. We all write different genres - so weaving in beauty isn't a necessity for writing! Sometimes we need to actually write about the ugliness of life in order to educate people or to reach them. Writing as a result of your quest for Biblical truth sounds great! I too am not a novelist. Although I hope to write a novel or two one day. Keep writing Margaret. As I shared in one of my talks at the Caleb conference - by writing different genres we each speak to others in 'their mother tongue' (in reading). So we reach different people that way when we each fulfill our own unique calling as writers no matter what our genre. :)