Thursday 22 September 2016

Never underestimate ...

by Mazzy Adams

As part of my Creative Writing studies, I completed numerous ‘Quick Writing’ exercises based on various verbal prompts and images. Here’s one of those prompts and my response to it:

Every day of the week, between 7:00 am and 8:00 am, Vince and Jack arrived at the park bench with their newspapers.  Every day they grunted a greeting, sat, and read. Every day, between 8:00 am and 9:00 am, as one finished reading his newspaper, he would fold it, tuck it under his arm, stand, mumble a farewell and leave.

Sometimes Jack left first. Sometimes Vince left first.

Jack didn’t know Vince was an inventor whose ingenious creations languished for want of entrepreneurial investment. Vince didn’t know Jack was a lonely millionaire who intended to bequeath his millions to an animal shelter because he had no family and no friends.

Vince could have become like a brother to Jack. Jack could have enabled millions of people to benefit from Vince’s inventions.

Could have, should have, would have … didn’t.

All because of the one thing they did share … a failure to communicate.

Never underestimate the value of a good discussion.

I sat down intending to write this blog on a totally unrelated topic (to do with ‘the individuality of your voice’) when the memory of this particular writing exercise sat down beside me, tapped my heart, then rapped me over the head like a rolled up newspaper and suggested I use it instead.

So, I suspect that, for whatever reason, someone out there needs another kind of prompt: my gentle encouragement to connect.

Perhaps there is someone you’ve wanted to chat to for ages and, for whatever reason, you haven’t managed it yet. Why wait? Pick up the phone and call them. Better still, invite them to join you for coffee, or a walk in the park.

Perhaps you need encouragement to connect with like-minded people, or, say, to attend a writers’ conference. That can be a great place for good discussions. (It just so happens that the Omega Writers Conference is on in Sydney in October. Have you booked yet?)

Perhaps there is a letter you’ve been meaning to send. One that will break the ice so your writing/publishing/networking boat moves forward? Today might be the right day to put pen to paper, or fingers to the keyboard and make that connection. (Preaching to myself here!)

Perhaps you need encouragement to connect with someone who can help you in some other way. Honestly, I find it so difficult to ask for help. I’ve been more thoroughly inculcated with the message that it is ‘more blessed to give than to receive’ than the one that says ‘ask and you will receive’. Perhaps that underscored the problem I created for Jack and Vince in a moment of quick writing madness back in 2012.

Back then, I needed encouragement to find and join a writing critique group. Back then, someone I had never met in person invited me to come along and join in regular discussions about writing. And back then … I did it. I went to meet five strangers … and received five wonderful friends. (Thanks, Nola, for initiating that connection.) I’ll never underestimate the value of creative, fun-filled shenanigans again!

There is no doubt in my mind that discussing the pros and cons of my writing with other writers has helped me hone my craft. Doing the same for them has … helped me hone my craft! (‘More blessed to give than receive’ still rings true.) There is immense value in the mutual support offered by groups like Christian Writers Downunder. Being connected really does help.
I think I’ll finish this post with a ‘homework’ exercise our writing critique group tackled in April, 2014, one that I’d filed beside my story of Vince and Jack. Our prompt was, ‘What does your writing group mean to you?’ Perhaps you could share your response to that question as a comment below. Here’s what I wrote:

Quirky Quills is
larger than individual idiosyncrasies;
the sum of corporate wisdom;
the strength of forged metal alloys;
the flexibility of seasoned allies;

a cohesive, healing ecclesia;
a hug for brain and heart;
a canvas prepared for inspiration;
brushes dipped in holy ink;

a catalyst for action;
a treasure-trove of friendship;
a creative, vocal ensemble with
an infinite, lyrical repertoire;

and the heartbeat of my social redemption.

So ... why not try to make that new connection? (And if you happen to connect with a millionaire called Jack who has money to bequeath struggling authors, please, by all means, feel free to introduce us.)

Mazzy Adams is an Australian wife, mother, grandmother, creative and academic writing tutor and published author with a passion for words, pictures and the positive potential in people. 


  1. "I’ve been more thoroughly inculcated with the message that it is ‘more blessed to give than to receive’ than the one that says ‘ask and you will receive’. "

    That spoke to me this morning. Thank you for the reminder. You're right - it's hard to ask for help, especially when we're used to offering it.

    Sorry, I don't know a Jack with millions floating around, but I am looking forward to the Omega Writer's Conference, and I'm soon off to spend the morning writing with a friend. Yay!

    1. You are certainly a help-giver Iola; I've benefited a great deal from the links and information you regularly share. May blessings be multiplied to you for that. Hope you and your friend manage to write up a storm of inspiration! I look forward to catching up with you at the conference.

  2. LOL Mazzy - I'd love to meet Jack with his lonely millions :) But - in the meantime, I like you am overjoyed to meet up with like-minded writers at the Intricate Worlds critique group (nothing like writers that understand my favourite genre), Omega Writers, Christian Writers Downunder - the Conferences, the Book Fair as well as the Masters course I complected last year. 'Iron sharpens Iron' Great post. Thank you.

    1. Thanks Jenny. I had a great time at the Omega Book Fair too - in fact the post I'd originally planned to write was partly inspired by one of the workshop activities from that day. Might have to write that one next time.

  3. Great post Mazzy. Really enjoyed it. Love your sense of humour and can understand why you are part of the Quirky Quills! :)I will hunt around for Jack ... who knows but he might be in the neighbourhood. I shall take my newspaper to a bench nearby and see who turns up! Jokes apart, God's been nudging me lately about the next book I might write... perhaps a good day to do a little dreaming in that area. So thanks for the push in the right direction!

    1. Glad to have been a positive pusher! Let's hope you fall right into a pool (or lake or torrent) of writing inspiration and start swimming. And yes, I'm very grateful that the other Quills think I'm quirky enough to be one of them.

  4. Hi Mazzy,
    Wow, the story about Jack and Vince is powerful. I can think of several people I rub shoulders with who don't even know I've written novels, because I've had moments when mentioning it feels too awkward. I don't think any of them have been lonely millionaires like Jack, but you never know. Thanks for the encouragement to keep stepping out of our comfort zones.

    1. You are welcome Paula. I hope that 'awkwardness' about mentioning your gift, your calling, and your fabulous novels to others vaporizes with that puff of 'could have, should have, would have' so all you are left with is 'did it!' Besides, I've read you novel, 'Best Forgotten'. It's a great read, full of intrigue and inspiration and well worth talking about.

  5. Oh thanks for that Mazzy. What a great reminder of the importance to connect. We were blessed by having you join us (in both writing discussions and shenanigans). I've dug out what I wrote back then to that question. It was quite an epistle, and probably too long to share here. But I ended it with this statement: 'So what has my Quirky Quills connection meant to me? Fun, laughter, tears, encouragement, support, yummy food, but most of all the beauty of friends with a shared purpose to glorify God in their writing and lives.' Still so true. We really must get together more often to share our writing. Thanks for the reminder, Mazzy. God bless xx

  6. Either that, or we need to start celebrating half-birthdays too! (Although we've managed to celebrate a few book-birthdays this year.)

  7. Awww, that's beautiful, Mazzy. We QQ gals love having you in our world too and facing the ups and downs of our writing journeys together. The willingness to embrace virtual strangers only to forge friendships that will last a life time is indescribably precious. Thanks. :)

  8. Lovely, fluid writing Cathie, you are talented. Encouraging and kind words.

  9. Really enjoyed reading every part of what you have shared with us, Mazzy--your Jack and Vince story, your points in the body of your post, and then the lovely poem about Quirky Quills. Very inspiring! I know I can be a bit of a loner with my writing, but I have enjoyed meeting with the reasonably new Omega Writers' Group here in Sydney and have also benefited greatly from this online group and Australasian Christian Writers online. I have also loved giving and receiving input at our Christian writers' conferences/fairs over the years and look forward to the October one here in Sydney! See you there!

  10. What a great post Mazzy Adams! Those writing prompts certainly do get the creative juices flowing in a different direction than the normal thought patterns and processes. Thank you!