Monday, 23 July 2018

Finding Direction

by Josephine-Anne Griffiths

‘Sometimes to move forward in life we need to turn around.

It does not mean we wasted our time –

We just didn’t know then what we know now.’

I’ve talked about the busyness of life before, but what if we are busy accomplishing nothing?  That is how I have felt the past twelve to eighteen months.

Three years ago I successfully submitted a two page poem to the Glimpses of Light Anthology. Success came due to the patience and dedication of our wonderful editors, and also by His encouragement and grace to begin and keep plodding until the end.

Three years! Three years? Yes, I am afraid it has been three, long years since I felt truly motivated.

After the first draft of my first manuscript evaporated into cyberspace, I became depressed and didn’t want to write a word. I did write some of course, but the joy just wasn’t there. Last year I reviewed a lot of books, which involved a lot of reading. At the time I felt somewhat guilty about mostly reading and didn’t consider my reviews to be about writing at all.

I have a few journals packed away in my hidey-hole, as one thing I have learnt over the months is that it’s never a good idea to throw away ones notes. Besides I like to journal on most days and one never knows when my mindless ramblings may become useful. The bottom draw of my filing cabinet also has folders with incomplete stories and ideas for stories.

During the past few weeks I’ve been doing a lot of thinking … I have been writing and reading as well, but my mind has been very busy. Questions popped up such as ‘what do I want to do?’ and ‘what is the point, do I really want to write, am I good enough or indeed any good at all?’ Then the most important question of all came to mind ‘what does God want me to do?’

Upon reflection I realized that reading the work of others and writing reviews had in fact taught me a considerable amount about writing. So that was a positive. Perhaps I hadn’t been totally wasting my time. I had taken a friend’s manuscript with the view to reading, editing and proofreading it, but every time I tried to make some headway, something would come up health wise or family related. Eventually however, I knuckled down for eight days, twelve hours per day, and finished that darn thing. And you know what? The relief was instant, and better still I used skills that I had learnt in my Editing and Proofreading course. Also, this process taught me more than any course could have. The experience was invaluable. 

When I joined up for this year’s July Camp NaNoWriMo there was a little more spark in my step, not a lot but enough. I’ve been enjoying the camp so far this month, but I’ve been a little lost. It’s like I really did go on a camping trip, took the wrong path, but left my compass at home leaving me stranded with no idea of which direction to take.

I’m still not certain what I want to do, but that’s okay because I have discovered what God wants of me.

He wants me to be happy. It is easy in this crazy world of ours to overlook the simplest things, and fail to realize that often these small things are the most important. 

I did find my compass, by the way. It had slipped down the bottom of my knapsack. I’m so glad I found it lying right next to my Bible. He wants me to write, so I shall. I have a whole Memoir Writing course to complete … that’s exciting, and hopefully once it’s completed I’ll finally write that memoir. I have also discovered I have a passion for writing devotionals, so I’ll be concentrating on that too.

Have you ever felt lost, couldn’t find the right path or track? It can be so overwhelming. What do you do when these thoughts fill your head?


  1. "What does God want me to do?"

    That's the central question, isn't it? I also think it's what we need to come back to when we feel overwhelmed. Are we doing what God wants, at the time he wants it? Or are we doing what other people want?

    Good thoughts, Jo-Anne. Thank you :)

    1. Thanks Iola :)
      Yes, you're right ... it is the central question, but alas it always seems to take me such a long time to realise what's best. I think I have spent way too much precious time doing what I think others want. God bless.

  2. Hi dear Jo'Anne. I'm so sorry for this perplexing season in your life. I've had many of those so do understand. I have discovered that when life is bewildering it's a call to deeper intimacy with God. Sometimes that path is easy. At other times it is not. But through every changing season and especially the tough ones, God woos our hearts to Him. And yes, He loves it when we delight in Him and in life doesn't He?

    I think too that those confusing paths are great food for our writing - so I know God will use your experiences to infuse your writing with extra knowledge and insights. Well done on those reviews my friend. You have blessed others through them and done some writing too. Great to hear about the memoir writing course and your heart towards writing devotionals. I know God will be right there with you producing gems. Well done on keeping on despite life's challenges. And thank you for blessing us with a beautifully written thought provoking blog today. I will leave you now to look for my own compass! :)

    1. Dear Anusha, thank you for your lovely and thorough response. I don't mind too much the perplexing season as it is bringing me closer to God. I guess once we reach 'rock bottom' so to speak, we don't have any other choice but to listen to Him ... whether we want to or not.

      I have begun doing the Faithwriters challenges (6 month pledge to do 20 challenges). It's going well so far, but it's only the beginning. I do have lots to do but I am enjoying doing things differently with a little less stress. I too, know God will be looking over my shoulder while I produce some devotional gems ... I couldn't do it without Him. I hope you find your compass. I'm certain you left it right next to mine :)

  3. Thank you for this beautiful word today, Jo'Anne. I can relate to so much of this. I've tried so many things with my writing these past few years; a novel, a blog, another novel - all of these attempts have been in vain! Perhaps it is time for me to grab my compass out, and stop asking am I worthy of doing what God is asking, and just start doing it? Which, like yourself, is writing devotionals. Here's to less stressing and searching, and more sitting, and trusting, and writing. What a relief!

  4. Hi Helen :)
    I am so relieved not to be in this alone. Devotionals are fun as they don't need to be related to each other. Of course they can be, but it is so lovely to start a fresh page with a new idea. Thank you for your encouragement, and hang on to that compass :)

  5. Hi Jo'Anne,
    Thanks for such a thoughtful and honest post. Your reflection also shows how fast 3 years, or even more, can fly. Like the others who've commented, I too can relate. After 9 novels, I seem to have lost my mojo and momentum to some extent since 2014. I no longer have the swirling ideas I used to, and it feels a bit as if the job's completed. I've been prolific on the blog/review front though. There have been moments of beating myself up mentally, but I've decided it's just another season, maybe equally fruitful in its own way. I believe you're spot on, He really does want us to be happy, which includes obeying those simple prompts each day, however small.

    1. Hi Paula,
      Thank you for uour kind and thoughtful comments. I do apologise for such a late response. Believe it or not, I had totally forgotten to go back and check for more comments the next day (day after post was published). Sadly, I'm having more and more difficulty remembering all the things I need to remember. Anyway, I want you to know that I love your book reviews, even though I very rarely get the chance to comment ... and yes, I use your blog as a library, so no, I think your mojo is just fine *hugs and smiles*

  6. Hi Jo'Anne, thanks for sharing from your heart the difficulties but also the encouragements you've been experiencing with your writing. Recently, I thought I'd lost the first draft of a novel (in 'foolproof' backup fail) and was so relieved when I finally tracked down a copy after several months searching (hiding under some strange name file name). I so feel for your memoir disappearing after so many years of writing it - but sometimes rewriting something can help give it a better focus. It does sound like in this fallow time that you have been learning and growing and definitely touching lives and encouraging others. Editing, reviews, devotionals are all important - and your memoir writing course sounds worth investing in. Sometimes growth occurs beneath the soil & it's that growth that supports the more showy mass of leaves and flowers. Glad you've found your compass again. God bless and prosper you as you follow Him.

  7. Thank you Jenny. Yes, my compass is found and intact, however I am feeling rather overwhelmed. I guess that's another reason why this reply is so late, apart from the fact that I'm getting more forgetful by the day. I'm so glad to hear you found your hidden manuscript. It must have been such a relief. Anyway, I'm doing two courses back to back at the moment (Cecily's memoir course and Jerry Jenkins' Your Novel Blueprint course), so I'm thinking that I definitely need to cull some of my activities. It's time to do some serious writing. God bless you too!