Thursday, December 18, 2014

Living a writer's life – together.

By Cate McKeown
I've always loved writing, as I'm sure most of you who are reading this have done. Writing is the sort of thing that is engrained into a person; like an everlasting mosquito bite you have to scratch, because no matter how much you try lathering it in spit, relief will only come when you rub profusely over the little red dot, preferably with a nice long sharp fingernail.
And happy I was, sitting at my laptop writing for my own amusement, way back in 2012. Were you ever content with your own words, happy to keep them to yourself, happy to achieve your goals in silence, leaving the world oblivious to your secret, inner, writing life?
Well, I was.
Until one day when I felt a nudge – you know the kind. The one where you sense God tugging on something in your heart that lets you know he has bigger plans for you – uncomfortable plans that will lead you out of your comfort zone and place all that is sacred to you on display for the world to see. The kind of plans that you push aside as nonsense until you step out and start telling people that you believe God might be calling you to write – and suddenly everyone is supportive and championing you and you swallow hard and take a deep breath and think those three magical words: well now what?
*Sigh* Those were hard days.
Faith is an interesting thing. Trust God with my three daughters? Sure! Trust him with my hubby's (seemingly) mediocre income while I write rather than work? Not a problem. Trust him with our health and happiness and for miraculous intervention into the lives of friends around me? Okey dokey, can do. But trust him with my words being put out for the world to see, to be judged, to be criticised not only as a writer, but as a Christian writer? Ah – can I take a rain-check on that one, Lord?
What a steep learning curve the past two years have been. From learning about showing not telling, to not using 'that' as a conjunction all.the.time, to cutting out the thousand+ adverbs from my first manuscript.
But then came deeper issues – how do you not preach, and yet get a message across in Christian fiction? And should we even be attempting to get such a message out there? What is Christian fiction, who reads it, and how do we cater for the non Christian who may pick up the book to read? It's a complicated world out there, and with every new step I take I feel I am even more a novice than I was yesterday.
But that's why groups like CWD are so valuable. We need each other. We need the help and the support and anyone and everyone to join our cheer-squad to get us over the line. And we need to be this for others, too. It's a tough world out there, and sometimes the red dot we're itching bleeds.
What about you - are you published and on your way to becoming the Christian equivalent of the next JK Rowling, ready to mentor an upcoming writer? Or perhaps you're back at the starting line, wondering what that ear-piercing sound was that made everyone else take off running, hoping for someone to reach out and grab your hand to pull you along for a bit. I'd love to hear how you're going on your writing journey at the moment.
Catriona McKeown has a list of identities as long as her arm, three feet in four pies and a call write. Her first manuscript, Damaging Exchanges, was a finalist in the unpublished section of the 2014 CALEB awards. She has also enjoyed some small successes in short story writing competitions this year. Her current WIP, The Boy In The Hoody, is written with middle year children (9 – 13 year olds) in mind. You can follower her writer's page on FaceBook at


  1. Thanks for that Cate. Good on you for obeying that little nudge (or big push) and stepping out with your writing. It's not easy when God pushes you out of your comfort zone. The first true story I had published was in a book called The God Factor back in about 2001. The editor collected true stories from 50 academics and scientists about why they believed in God. I had intended to write something academic about the integration of psychology and Christianity - something I knew well. However, I thought I'd better do the 'right' thing and pray before I set off. God spoke very clearly and said He wanted me to write about my personal adoption experiences instead. "What? You can't have said that Lord. I can't put myself out there like that. Let me just write about that nice and safe academic topic." Well, after kicking and screaming, I did write the adoption piece and it ended up being the springboard to a lot of other opportunities. So God knows best (Surprise, surprise) :)

    May God continue to bless you in your writing journey. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thanks, Nola. It is always helpful to know our experiences are shared by others, also. God does know best, hard as that can seem sometimes. :)

  2. thankyou Cate for that encouraging post.. God also showed me that he wanted to write and giving me several nudges . But my fear of failure was bigger. He is showing me daily to trust him and I can step out of my comfort zone

    1. It is a difficult step to take some times, but well worth the effort. Thanks for commenting. :)

  3. Thanks for your interesting post Cate. Was lovely to hear of your writing journey. And congratulations for having been a finalist in the 2014 Caleb awards. That is awesome. Love the name of your WIP 'Boy in a hoody'. Sounds very intriguing. I too have written a children's book for the 8 - 12 age group and have a soft spot for writing for them. Well done too on your writing successes of 2014. Sounds like God has an exhilarating ride mapped out for you. :) Go for it!

  4. "...uncomfortable plans that will lead you out of your comfort zone and place all that is sacred to you on display for the world to see."

    Yep, this is where I am at the moment! Nice to know I'm not alone. Thanks Cate.