Friday, 29 November 2013

Anyone for the quiet writing life?

I have said the following so often that it has become a joke in our family. Whenever I see a home—even a cottage—in a beautiful, quiet setting, I announce, ‘I could write my Great Australian Novel there!’ Yes, six novels and one memoir down the track, I am still saying it.

Right now, however, as I approach the end of 2013, that quiet, writing life in some secluded setting seems particularly attractive. You see, this past year has been my busiest yet in this crazy writing and speaking journey I began in 2007, when my first novel Heléna was published. Besides launching my latest novel, The Inheritance, in September, I have presented thirty-four talks at a wide variety of venues. I have been interviewed four times, on radio and face to face. And I have also been involved in fourteen book selling events at bookstores, conferences and elsewhere. All up, quite a year!
Is it any wonder I am looking forward to this Christmas/New Year period when I might be able to get back to my non-fiction work in progress? Is it any wonder I look with longing at those three outlines of novels currently languishing on my computer? Recently, an idea for yet another novel has taken hold somewhere deep inside. Will that perhaps be the one I end up writing first?

Yet why should I complain about what has unfolded for me in 2013? After all, I know that, if one writes books these days, then one must also get out there and promote. Besides, I love speaking. Somewhere way back, I was a high school teacher, which prepared me well for speaking to groups both large and small. I am not fazed by seeing umpteen faces turned towards me, sometimes showing interest, sometimes otherwise! As well, my theological college training in my forties and my experience, both before and after, of giving input in a church context has stood me in good stead for my more recent speaking engagements. In particular, I love the challenge of speaking to community groups. God is always there, I have discovered, engineering those important connections with people. As for author visits to bookstores, I enjoy them too, despite their tiring nature. I have met so many interesting people and experienced many special ‘God moments’ in such settings.
So I am looking forward to this holiday season—but also to what God has in store for me in 2014. Yes, already I know I have a handful of speaking engagements early in the year. Also, we’ll be welcoming another grandchild in March. But somewhere in the midst of all that, I believe God will graciously allow me to get back to writing as well. I believe God has more things for me to write—and that to me is a great privilege.

I wonder if 2013 has held some particular struggles as well as successes for you in your own writing and speaking journey. How have you fared in it all? Whatever this year has held for you, may God bless and refresh you this Christmas season and on into 2014. I encourage you to look to God to unfold your year in the shape that is just right for you. As I found these past months, God can do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us (Eph 3:20), if we keep our eyes on him.
Jo-Anne Berthelsen lives in Sydney but grew up in Brisbane. She holds degrees in Arts and Theology and has worked as a high school teacher, editor and secretary, as well as in local church ministry. Jo-Anne is passionate about touching hearts and lives through both the written and spoken word. She is the author of six published novels and one non-fiction work, Soul Friend: the story of a shared spiritual journey. Jo-Anne is married to a retired minister and has three grown-up children and three grandchildren. For more information, please visit www.jo-anneberthelsen.com or www.soulfriend.com.au.

13 comments:

  1. Thanks Jo, that was just what I wanted to hear today. It has been a crazy busy year for me too, and I often wondered how I would get it all done. But as my good friend Skye Weiland said, "If God provides the promotion, He will give the provision."
    He calls us upward and onward and goes with us - He doesn't leave us hanging.

    Bless you Jo

    ReplyDelete
  2. Maybe at the end of such crazy years, we need to stop for a moment, Catherine, and receive God's loving 'Well done!'--whether we feel we have been successful in everything we've attempted or not. Sometimes we're a bit hard on ourselves, don't you think? So good that God is with us in it all though and providing the strength we need--love that quote from Skye! God bless.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Love your post, Jo-Anne, and Eph 3:20 was exactly what I needed for today. Fortified and encouraged, I am. God bless :)

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thanks, Andrea. Yes, it's a great, encouraging verse, isn't it? I love speaking on this whole Eph 3:14-21 passage, with its wonderful, triumphant ending.

    ReplyDelete
  5. 2013 has been the most challenging and rewarding writing year for me, Jo-Anne. I'm blessed to 'count' all God has allowed to cross my path. Very glad to have read and been encouraged by your Soul Friend a few months ago.

    Thanks for your blessing over 2014. May God return it right back 'at-cha.' xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, I can remember reading some of your posts on Facebook and elsewhere and noting what a big year it has been for your, Dorothy. Well done to you! And I'm so glad my 'Soul Friend' encouraged you along the way as well. Re blessing others, I know I write it a lot--I always ask if I can put it in the front of my books when I sell them and have been turned down only twice--but to me it's a really important little prayer that God will encourage each person who reads that book.

      Delete
  6. Jo-Anne, it's great to hear about how your speaking ministry has flourished this year. I hope 2014 will provide you with many opportunities to work on your books, both fiction and non-fiction. Thanks for sharing :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Narelle. Yes, I find myself a bit 'out of steam' right now, after such a busy year. So I'm particularly looking forward in the new year to that lovely deep renewal and refreshment I've experienced from God before through the whole creative process.

      Delete
  7. No wonder you're running out of steam and in need of a rest, Jo-Anne. you have had a busy year. Thanks for the post.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Yes, a rest sounds good, Dale--although just getting back to writing would be very life-giving too, I think. I hope you have had a good year, with some time to write and that your back has held up well. God bless!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Thank you, Jo-Anne for this. With my first book due for release in April, I gear up for my own year of speaking, signing and touring with the same mixture of confidence and trepidation. I, too, have been a teacher (and an amateur actress) and am not phased by an audience, but I know I need grace for physical stamina and for courage to make 'openings'. You are proof to the assertion that Grannies on the Go can run with the best of them! Rhonda

    ReplyDelete
  10. Thanks for this, Jo-Anne. With my first book due for release in April I am looking forward to my own adventure with a mixture of confidence and trepidation. I am a former teacher (and amateur actress) and like you I'm not phased by an audience, but I know I will need a particular grace for stamina in the speaking, signing and touring as well as for those serendipitous opportunities that take us beyond the known path. You are an inspiration that Grannies on the Go can run with the best! Do have a blessed down-time over Christmas! Rhonda

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Love that title 'Grannies on the Go', Rhonda! I'll have to tell my family that one--although I think Mary Hawkins in Tassie could outrun me in the 'Granny Stakes'! Congratulations on your own upcoming book release in April. Yes, the promotion and speaking that will follow requires a lot of effort, but it is all very rewarding and a great privilege, I find, at this stage of my life.

      Delete