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.
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.