Friday 11 November 2016

So different!

Twice recently, I have been reminded in no uncertain terms about how different we all are as authors. In earlier years, this would have caused me to feel so inferior. Was I on the right track? Surely those other authors had found a better way of going about things? Now, however, I realise it’s okay and, in fact, quite natural that we should be such a diverse bunch!

A few weeks ago, I saw this diversity clearly displayed when I visited the NSW Writers’ Centre for their 25th birthday celebrations. I had been selected as one of five winners of a writing competition and was there to collect my prize. We had been required to write about an experience of being at the Centre—an easy topic for me because, at once, a conversation I had years ago with a young writer during an emerging writers’ festival there came to mind. Here is a portion of what I wrote:

 ‘So ... have you enjoyed the sessions so far?’

‘Oh, yes!’ I lie. ‘How about you?’

‘Not really. They were mostly geared towards finding a publisher.’

‘That’s a shame ... are you already published then?’

At this point, he looks at me full on, horrified. What sort of blunder have I made? Was my question plain offensive to him? Perhaps he is some famous author I should have recognised.

‘No way!’ he blurts out at last. ‘Do you really want to be published?’

I am stunned. Of course I do!  Why would I not? Why go to all that trouble of spending months, even years, writing something others will never read? Yet this young man seems deeply disturbed by the whole idea.

As I chatted with a young woman at the birthday celebrations and told her what I had written, however, I heard a vastly different response.

‘I was at a writers’ festival like that too and, at one session, this publisher told us that, out of the fifty of us there, only one would find a publisher. Straight up, I decided, ‘That person is going to be me!!

Her confidence and joyful expectancy was so refreshing to hear that I laughed out loud.

My second experience of such diversity occurred at the recent Omega Writers’ Conference. Three other authors and I had finished taking our turns on a panel and it was time for questions. Someone asked about book promotion and a spirited discussion ensued.

‘I remember how freeing it was to discover not every author has to blog,’ one panel member declared, ‘because I hate blogging! I keep thinking I could be writing more books, rather than wasting time adding to the mountain of words already out there in blogs everywhere!’

A few moments later, I had to add my bit.

‘Er ... um ... I really love blogging! I write a personal blog each week and link it to Facebook. I find it a great way to connect with people.’

In the end, we all laughed.

Yes, we are diverse bunch—and that’s wonderful! Let’s not be put off by others or jealous of them. Let’s celebrate our differences. Let’s learn from one another but also be true to ourselves and to God. God has gifted each one of us differently and we can each impact our readers in a way no one else can. 

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  


  1. Hi Jo-Anne,
    We sure are different, and that's so great. I'm glad that when someone mentions the word 'writer' it can mean hundreds of different things, depending on the individual. It would be pretty dull if we were all the same. But like you, I enjoy blogging.

  2. Yes, I think blogging has had lots of side benefits for me, including making me less of a wordy writer! Each week, I discipline myself to stick to around 550 words--quite a challenge for me!


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