Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Reaching our young Aussie writers

By Jenny Glazebrook

Tahlee Ministry and Training Centre, Port Stephens
Last month I spoke at a Christian High School Writers’ Retreat at Tahlee on Port Stephens. It was exciting to see the next generation of writers God is raising up in Australia. The passion, the willingness to learn and the young dreams all reminded me of my own heart and reason for writing.

In my time lecturing and mentoring, I encouraged the young people to see purpose in everything that happens in their lives and to use each experience for God’s glory. 

We talked about the fact that if we live the depth of this life, experience all the senses, enjoy the richness of both joy and pain, we have more to offer our readers, more to help us connect.

A student was able to put this into practice one afternoon as I sat mentoring her. We were discussing her writing idea when a mina bird landed above us. There was the sound of a plop, and there on her felt iPad cover was a huge bird mess. She gasped in horror and I raced to find some paper towel.
As I wiped it up as best I could, I reminded her that nothing in this life is wasted if we choose to use it.  ‘Can you use this experience somehow?’ I asked.
Her eyes lit up. ‘Yes! My characters are auditioning for a theatre production. Yes, something like this would fit really well!’

And in that moment the bird dropping on her iPad became an exciting idea rather than an inconvenience.

Imagine if we could live this way?

I try, but I admit I often fail.

As I wait in hospital rooms or in medical waiting areas I try to watch what is going on around
me. To feel everything, observe everyone, and soak up the moment. And in doing this, ‘wasted’ time becomes valuable. I grow to understand more about people and the world we live in. And in doing so I learn more about myself and God.

Not only is this good for my writing, it is good for my life. If I can let my life story be God’s story I know there is purpose in everything. When I spill toothpaste on my clean shirt, rather than become irritated and stressed I can see it as a valuable experience. If I truly believe God is in every detail, I can trust Him with it all. When tragedy strikes I can know that God is working out the story of my life for good.

The second thing that struck me anew in my time with the High School students is that if we want to be a writer we need to write! So many of the students told me about ideas floating around in their heads. Some of them were brilliant.
‘Have you written them down?’ I asked time and time again. Most hadn’t. So I couldn’t even have a look at their ideas and help develop them. If they’d at least written them down, even if they needed work we would have had something to work with.

It occurred to me that over half these students will probably never write a book. Are they capable? Absolutely. They are gifted, intelligent writers. But what good is a writer who never writes?

And so I came home and started the project I had been putting off. 


My prayer for each of those students, and also for us as adult writers, is that we will see God’s hand in every experience. That we will live the richness of this life, put it down in words, and connect with our readers. Above all, that we will connect with our God who valued relationship with us more than His own life. 


Jenny Glazebrook lives in the country town of Gundagai with her husband, Rob and 4 children along with many pets. She is the published author of 7 novels, 1 traditionally published, and 6 self published. She writes because words burn within her. She is an experienced inspirational speaker and loves to encourage others to walk closer with God and hear His voice each day. She has a Diploma of Theology and is a 3 times CALEB finalist. Jenny’s website is: www.jennyglazebrook.com

13 comments:

  1. Great post, Jenny. 'If I can let my life's story be God's story I know there is purpose in everything' - wow. I'm challenged afresh to look for God's working in everything. Thank you!

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    1. It is a challenge, Carolyn. We're at Tahlee again at the moment while Rob works on the computer systems. It's hard to see purpose in rain and illness and washing machines that don't work, but I'm trying to remember to trust and let God build my character, instead of me building my whinge vocabulary : ) We did get to see some wild dingoes playing on the beach - what an amazing experience! Will have to put that in a story somewhere. And I'm sure I can use the broken down washing machine somehow too ...

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  2. Lovely post, Jenny. And BTW, what a fabulous location for that training centre.

    I love how you reflect on using the everyday situations to step into God's realm and seek to observe what He's seeing and doing in other people's lives. It's a great perspective for all of us, not just for writing but for hitching a ride with Him in His mission.

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    1. It is an amazing location, Ian. A beautiful spot with wildlife on the doorstep and plenty of inspiration. I wrote the drafts of most of my books while Rob were on staff and living here years ago. It's my dream to have an Aussie Christian Writers' retreat here someday. And I love the way you've expressed this - 'hitching a ride with Him in His mission'. A great reminder that it is His mission and not ours, but He gives us the privilege of being part of it.

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    2. I agree! Tahlee would be a very good venue for a writers' retreat. I was so blessed by the Retreat this year near Toowoomba in Qld!

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  3. Thanks, Jenny. Even if just one or two of those young people finally get to write those ideas down that are floating around in their heads, your time with them will have been worthwhile. And who knows when God will bring back to mind for them, years down the track, something you taught them at this point in their lives?

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    1. Yes, Jo-Anne, I agree that if just one or two hear God's prompting and take action it's worth it. I was thrilled that several of them said God had spoken to them through what my family and I shared. As well as presenting workshops on writing we were able to share our personal story and God's hand in every part of our lives. It was interesting how many of the teenagers were writers because for one reason or another they couldn't be part of the successful sporting crowd in their school. They were able to see that whatever caused them to be unable to be successful in sport could actually be a blessing and God's direction in their lives as he led them into writing.

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  4. An excellent post, Jenny. We all need these reminders. I sure did today after a frustrating few weeks trying to revise my Return to Baragula book before being released again as another edition. I have been challenged (again!)to acknowledge God's timing is always perfect. And now back to that project instead of reading blog posts. LOL.

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    1. Hope you are able to get your revisions done on Return to Baragula. Betty Stanbury here at Tahlee said she really enjoyed a copy you left here last time you were here. She's retiring and getting married in October and I thought I might give her the next two books as a wedding present. And yes, I understand all about hours disappearing on Facebook and Blog posts, lol. I figure it's all research.

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  5. Thanks for your encouraging post Jenny. Hope you found some time to relax and enjoy the scenery.

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    1. Thanks Susan. I didn't last time we were here but we're here again at the moment and drinking in God's amazing creation. It must work, I'm up to 23,000 words on my next project now.

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  6. Thank you, Jenny, for another inspiring and timely word. I went on a writer's retreat as a teenager. I enjoyed writing even then, but I'm ashamed to say I mostly enjoyed the retreat as an alternative to school. I hope some of your students saw it for the eternal opportunity it was.

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    1. If any of them end up like you, I think it's fine if they just came along as an alternative to school, lol. It certainly didn't do you any harm and you've been a blessing to so many.

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