I'm not a writer. I didn't dream about writing books when I was a kid. There are no old notebooks filled with amazing pieces of brilliance. I preferred Maths to English in upper high school and failed at creative writing. I've not heard of lots of the classics, much less read them. My spelling is atrocious. My vocabulary is limited. I’m a people person. By nature I love working on projects with people.
So why, oh why do I spend countless hours, sitting at a keyboard, hitting all the wrong keys in an effort to produce a great novel?
On the weekend, I realised most of my life expectations have never eventuated. They weren't big things, just normal Aussie dreams. God has been pulling them out of my dream closet and making me look at them. He seems to think it is time they were discarded, in the same way my sewing materials and knitting needles should be. They belong to a former life. In a way I'm sad, but in my heart I know they won't be used again. The grey nomad crawl around Australia went years ago. Now God is shaking the dust off worldly financial security, perfect family and eternal youth.
Really Jo, do these need to be taking room in your dream closet?
Old life expectations must be discarded to make way for new visions. Yesterday at the beach I buried them and worshipped my King. Now I wait to see what he is going to add to the dream closet.
Over the last ten years, God has been planting new dreams within me. They are much bigger and not as comfortable as the old ones. The others were possible. The new appear impossible, but so full of promise.
I never purposed to be an author, yet about ten years ago, pushed by the Holy Spirit, I set a goal to write ten books. I assumed they would be solid non-fiction, Christian life books. I knew the first one would be about our victory through the horror of abuse. Yet every effort to write was disastrous until I tried fiction. Now I must face the evidence. I am not a writer and yet my name is on a published book, a faction.
After its publication, I started another novel. But my self-opinions stalled it.
‘You can’t make up plots. What do you know about writing? Your characters are pathetic. You should do research (I hate it!) and the big one – who do you think you are to write what God thinks and feels? I filed it under ‘vain attempts’ and turned my thoughts to a non-fiction which hasn’t progressed past the title.
After the Caleb conference last year, the Lord pushed me back to the book He had named El Shaddai in 2012. With the momentum of NaNoWriMo I found my creative brain pumping and discovered I could write a novel, well together with God, I could. One memorable day I found my protagonist locked in a hut in the bush. As the book is written entirely from her point of view, the story ground to a sudden halt. I left the manuscript overnight, flummoxed.
The next morning I told God I’d remove her from the hut with the delete button because we must have made a mistake. But He pushed me to continue and we found important plot clues hidden in the hut. I didn’t know they were there, but He did.
Living God’s dreams is exciting, if challenging. Sometimes I look at the life I thought I'd have and compare it with the one I find I'm living. One is comfortable and predictable. The other is challenging, demanding and surprising. I will admit I sometimes yearn for the former, where things were tidy and organised, but I laid it down years ago. So forgetting what lies behind (buried it in the sand) I press forward into my calling. I guess that means the third booking is coming! I know the theme, the protagonists, the settings. It is all overwhelming, but my co-writer seems to know what He’s doing and is pulling me forward with great excitement.
My final confessions - now, I love writing novels.
Jo and Steve Wanmer live in beautiful South East Queensland. Today they are celebrating forty-three years of marriage. Jo loves to read books that deal with the tough, personal issues of life, where the protagonist learns to overcome her weaknesses and difficulties. He first book, Though the Bud be Bruised, has bought insight and healing to many.