I have a confession to make, I loved Enid Blyton books as a child. Back then I had no idea of the nuances of her books I am aware of now.
This island, which was a back drop to a swim, took me back to Five on a Treasure Island. I imagined all sorts of exciting adventures I could have exploring there. I am not sure why I love islands much but keep being drawn to sitting and looking at them. Occasionally, where possible I get to explore too.
I devoured all the famous five books. My favourite character was George, she was the one I connected with and saw something of myself in. Reading as a child gave me the opportunity to explore who I was and wanted to be and gave me new narratives to explore.
I love wondering who lived in places long ago and imagining what particularly women’s lives were like. I would love to do more creative writing but struggle with style and voice in a way I don’t with some of my other writing. Perhaps one day I will get some of it out of my head onto a page.
I blog because writing helps me to think and sometimes I don’t know what I think until I have finished writing. Thus my twice weekly blogging is a bit of a discipline to keep me in the writing groove. I can write a blog quickly, but can still procrastinate when I am writing something more substantial. I am trying to write something on spiritual practices at the moment and I have gathered material, thought about structure but not managed to actually begin to craft what it is I want to write.
I find books about writing encouraging as I realise that others feel like me and yesterday evening I revisited one – Love letters to writers by Andi Cumbo-Floyd. Here are a couple of extracts that spoke to me:
If you believe writing helps you think better, feel better, be better, understand better, know better, breathe better, then it’s not wrong to do it. You are not wasting time or being selfish. You are caring for yourself. And that matters (p45 on Kindle).
I have learned that a real key to writing is discipline, a regimented putting-of-the-butt-in-the-chair. I don’t believe in inspiration. I believe in hard work, in showing up, in facing the page as often as possible to get the writing done. But I also believe in grace. I believe that it’s far more detrimental to my mental health if i walk around on the days I don’t write feeling shameful about what I haven’t done. I know that shame is too heavy a weight to bear when I need lightness to create. I am certain that no good (and almost no writing) comes from feeling weighed down by what didn’t happen (p28 in Kindle).
The Grove Youth Series Writing Day is one of my favourite occasions of the year! We have an eclectic group of people – some are interested in writing a Grove booklet but others want the opportunity to write in a supportive structured context.
Telling a story is one of the most effective ways of communicating and writing our own story can be an insightful and sometimes healing process.
The Grove Youth Series is a great resource, accessible, engaging and contemporary – do you have a booklet in you?! If so think about booking on to the day or beginning a writing project – blog, newsletter or whatever works in your context.
It only costs £11 to subscribe for a year and receive four booklets – pdf or paper – less than a £! a month – what brilliant value!
American President John Adams wrote this:
“The only way to compose myself and collect my thoughts is to sit down at my table, place my diary before me, and take my pen into my hand”. John Adams
I don’t sit down at a table, I sit down on my sofa, even if it is only a snatched few minutes before I am going out the door at 6.30am to drive to work I like my morning routine where I pick up my journal and scribble a few lines. It is a bit of a check in for me – how am I – what are the issues from yesterday and looking into today that I want to note down. It is not great writing, it is often not even very legible when I go back to read it but it does raise my consciousness and self awareness and help me go into the day ahead more grounded. I also usually read a bit of my Bible and pray but the praying goes out into the day with me as do these few minutes where I give time to starting the day right. I appreciate it does not work for everyone and I am much less good at ending the day right!
This is one of my lovely Christmas presents. Fridays are often a day for writing and some of the initial planning is done by hand. I have a mind ma book for things I want to write. Writing helps me think and seeing something outside of my head often helps me explore it in more depth or at least feel I have dumped it on to paper. So first thing I scribble a bit in my journal and today is about editing other people’s writing which is a blessing as it is a way that I engage with new ideas but also a way I can support others to get things out there and help their voices to be shared.
I blog twice a week, not a lot of words but it keeps the discipline of writing alive for me. Last Friday we ran our annual writing day for the Grove Youth Series encouraging people to write a booklet or anything else they wanted. It is always an encouragement to have conversations with people about how they can share some of their thoughts and insights with the wider world. On Friday this ranged from explicitly missional under fives work to school and church relationships, and doing detached work. And those were just the conversations I had.
Several of the Editorial Group gave some input around different aspects of writing and participants got a pack of notes. Next year’s is on February 1st!
I also read about writing and am enjoying pondering on these reflections:
Active writing at least, where we sometimes write through what we think we know in order to discover that we actually think something else entirely. Thus writing changes the writer as much perhaps or even more than the reader.
Objectivity does not necessarily get lost in this mix but it does disguise itself sometimes in subjective language, just as subjectivity often hides behind the refusal to use the personal pronoun.
From John Freeman Remaking Memory Faringdon: Libri Publishing 2105 p27
I love writing but I don’t always write as much as I would like to or some of the things I would like to. This book was one of my birthday presents and in it people talk about their writing space. I don’t really have a dedicated writing space as such – I write in lots of different places but I need to create space in my week to write. I am working on this with a coach at the moment as it is so easy for other work to crowd out my writing time. So over the next few weeks I am trying to create space to write an article! Reading the book helped inspire me to do something about my desire…
This advice from Michael Morpurgo in the introduction to the book resonates with my own experience and is what I draw on when I blog.
Each of us has to find a way to begin writing. I have my way, not the best way – there is no best way – but my way. I think every writer has to read widely, to live a life as interesting and involved as possible, to meet people, to go places, to keep eyes and ears and heart open. We have to drink the world in, know it, develop our concerns, and so discover what it is we care about Michael Morpurgo (p1).
Mansfield, E. (ed) (2016). A Space to Write. Cornwall: KEAP.
When I turn to the back page of a paper I usually expect to see sport! However, I was really pleased to see this positive story about messy church on the back page of the Bude and Stratton Post. I always try to read a local paper when I am away somewhere, it gives a glimpse into local life. Also the feel is often less sensationalist or cynical and you see stories like this one presented at face value without any spin. I appreciate this is not true of all local papers but the ones I read when down in Cornwall are often like this.
I can still remember the thrill I felt at seeing a poem I had written in print in the Reading Chronicle – I was still at Primary School and perhaps it was one of those building blocks which has got me to the place where I write books and articles.
Last Friday was our annual Grove Youth Series Writing Day for anyone that wants to write about what they do. In many ways I can sum up the day by saying one thing, if you want to be a writer, write. This is one of the things I wrote:
There are so many things that don’t get done because I can’t be bothered to do them from cleaning my car to doing a bit of weeding. It is not an attribute of mine that I am proud of but a self aware comment that I can be lazy over things that I am not motivated to do.
Knowing myself and wanting to know myself and God better is one of the reasons I blog twice a week every week of the year. I value the discipline this gives me. Writing helps me reflect, live more attentively and mindfully and grow more into the Sally God created. As an introvert, I live a lot in my head and so my Friday photo blog is a conscious choice to reflect on something that I have seen, to make connections with life, with God, with others, with myself. On Wednesdays I often blog about something I have read or seen, it means I do the so what bit of reflective practice or theological reflection. I need to embody things in my life, not just fill up my brain with knowledge that doesn’t transform. I also blog regularly because I am encouraged by others, it is always such a delight when someone shares that they find what we write helpful or enjoyable. So thank you to those who have made the journey easier.