Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Where to from here? - Jo-Anne Berthelsen

I wonder how you feel as you look back over this past year. Have you managed to achieve those goals you might have set for yourself at the beginning of 2014? And how do you feel as you look towards 2015? For those of you out there who are writers, are there more book ideas and plots already beginning to take shape in your imagination?

This past year was a strange writing year for me. It was the first year since 2007 that I did not have another new book released. I began my journey of being published with my second book almost complete before the first was released, so, over these past seven years, I have had the luxury of always having something else ready ahead of time for my publisher to consider. This year, however, things caught up with me at last.

On top of that, I began the year in hospital, having a back operation, and also injured my ankle a few months later. Yet, by God’s grace, I still managed to fulfil around twenty-seven speaking engagements and book promotion events. We acquired a beautiful new granddaughter as well and now spend many hours minding said granddaughter, plus our three other beautiful grandchildren. In the midst of all this, I nevertheless managed to complete my second memoir and plan to submit it to my publisher after Christmas.

Next year, I hope to start writing another novel. I have three or four different ideas outlined on my computer—which one should I choose? Should it be the one inspired by memories of my artist grandmother and set in Queensland, my home state? Should I explore what happened to Grace, the child of the two main characters in my last novel, The Inheritance? Should I pursue the idea of writing a novel about a Turkish girl, set both here in Australia and in Turkey, a country I have visited several times and where I have had many adventures with a friend who lives there? Or should I go with a novel already begun, entitled Maddie, a story inspired purely by a photo that captured my imagination during a wonderful creative writing course I undertook several years ago?

As I think about each of these ideas, I feel excited about the possibilities. But, since this will be my ninth book, I well know the challenges I am likely to encounter. Am I ready to commit so much time and effort to another novel? More to the point, is it where God wants me to put my energies in the coming year? If it is not, then I am wasting my time. So, over the Christmas break, I plan to put time aside to pray and reflect and, as best I can, make sure this is the direction my writing should take. Then I can move forward with confidence, knowing that, even if I strike difficulties with this particular project, God is right there with me in the midst of it all.

As you look back over 2014, I hope you can see how God has strengthened and sustained you, however challenging your year might have been. And as you look towards 2015, may you know God’s clear guidance and enabling  in whatever projects you undertake, whether writing or otherwise.

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 four grandchildren. For more information, please visit www.jo-anneberthelsen.com.

11 comments:

  1. Thanks Jo-Anne. It's always good to be reminded to look back and forward to assess how we've been spending our time and energy. I hope the new year for you will be productive and satisfying.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks, Carol--and may the new year be equally productive and satisfying for you too. I think there must be a book somewhere in all those wonderful travel experiences you have had in the past little while!

    ReplyDelete
  3. You make a good point: is writing another novel what God wants for you? I think we can--and should--all be asking ourselves the same question in regard to our work, hobbies and the other things we fill our days with. Thanks for the reminder.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Iola. Sometimes it's clear we need to keep persevering with our writing and with using those gifts God has given us, as Jeanette comments below. But at other times, I know I can become strangely blind and deaf when God might want to challenge me to go in some other direction in my life!

      Delete
  4. Hi Jo-Anne. It sounds like you have had some great achievements for 2014 even though it's the first year in nine that you have had a book released (that in itself being an achievement)! It is good to look back on 2014 and then to look forward. Good to seek God's direction too. I know as an aspiring author it is as easy to be consumed with self-doubt (is what I'm doing worthwhile or am I putting in all this effort and passion for nothing). I strongly believe that, if God has given us the passion and ability to write, it is not a waste of time - but we do need to hear his voice and follow his direction which may at times be into other endeavours and adventures. And for what its worth, I'd say maybe the sequel :) Thanks for your post :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. sorry - missed the 'not' from 'it's the first in first year in nine that you haven't had a book released' .

      Delete
    2. Yes, we can be so hard on ourselves, can't we, and be blind to all the things we HAVE achieved, while focussing on one thing we haven't! And yes, I agree with you, Jeanette, that it will never be a waste of time if we are trying our best to use the gifts and abilities God has given us and doing that with passion and dedication. Yet I have also experienced times in my own life when God was challenging me to change direction and I was unwilling to do so. So it's good to stay close to God in it all, just chatting things over with him all the time!

      Delete
  5. Hi Jo-Anne, Thanks for your inspiring and challenging post :) You've articulated a number of thoughts that have been on my mind. If we're not prepared to give up writing, have we inadvertently made our writing an idol that has become too important in our life?

    Our writing is only one aspect of our life, and we have talents and abilities that could be used in other areas. I agree, it's about obedience and being prepared to change direction, rather than our success or failure as a writer.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, Narelle. Wow, that is a challenge to me to reflect on whether writing--or perhaps getting published--may have become an idol in my life. Lots of food for thought and prayer, for sure.

      Delete
  6. Challenging post, Jo-Anne. Thanks for sharing it. Yes, we creatives can fall into a trap over over-emphasising 'our calling' and as Narelle points out, this can lead to it becoming an idol.

    I always like to spend some decent time in the New Year in prayerfully reflecting on the past year and the goals for the year ahead.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Thanks, Ian. You know, I'm so thankful we have such a gracious God who just keeps on persevering with us and loving us and picking us up when we make wrong decisions and strengthening us to do better in our writing journeys and in life in general. And I'm sure you are too. God bless and guide you in 2015 as you listen to him.

    ReplyDelete