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.
This picture made me laugh out loud when I saw it in an exhibition of similar type paintings. It appeals on a couple of levels. Firstly, I enjoy impressionist art, particularly Monet (which this picture pays homage to) and it reminds me of good times in Paris at a time when we are remembering sad times. Secondly, as someone who writes and works in an academic field plagiarism, passing off someone else’s ideas or work as your own, is close to the biggest sin you can commit!
I am looking forward to spending some time thinking about what I have discovered about shame and what I want to say about it and trying to do that in a way that’s unique to me, not a copy of what someone else has already done.
We went on a community organized creative writing day yesterday (we found it on Streetlife) held in a church hall with this amazing window! The writer facilitating the session used an exercise that encouraged us to think about 5 different characters and write down 5 things about these people and one thing that would surprise us about this person. I wrote about a professor: clever arrogant, depressed, paranoid, kind / generous. She reminded us that it is so easy for us to stereotype those around us, but as with most if not all human beings, we are complex, there are always other sides to us.
It is so easy for us to box people, this is how they are, this is how they will act – good and bad. Honest Christianity is about being surprised, it is also about being disappointed and prepared for both. We can expect the unexpected, from those we like and respect but also from those we have started to dismiss. Let’s write these words especially for them: gracious, expectant Christianity.
Henri Nouwen writes:
Writing can be a true spiritual discipline. Writing can help us concentrate, to get in touch with the deeper stirrings of our hearts, to clarify our minds, to process confusing emotions, to reflect on our experiences, to give artistic expression to what we are living, and to store significant memories. Writing can be good for others who might read what we write. Quite often a difficult, painful or frustrating day can be ‘redeemed’ by writing about it. By writing we can claim what we have lived and thus integrate it more fully into our journeys. Then writing can become life-saving for us and sometimes for others too.
This was one of the quotations that I included in my materials for the Grove Youth Series writing day on Friday. As an introvert I spend a lot of time processing things in my head, writing gets something out of my head and on to a page in front of me in a way which helps me see it a little more clearly. This week I had one of those days where I needed to write and doing so was life-giving and helped externalise some of the many thoughts that crowded my mind and stopped me focusing on what it was I needed to. What do you need to write about today?
Henri J M Nouwen Bread for the Journey London DLT 1996:135.
Writing to save the day:
Writing can be a true spiritual discipline. Writing can help us concentrate, to get in touch with the deeper stirrings of our hearts, to clarify our minds, to process confusing emotions, to reflect on our experiences, to give artistic expression to what we are living, and to store significant memories. Writing can be good for others who might read what we write. Quite often a difficult, painful or frustrating day can be ‘redeemed’ by writing about it. By writing we can claim what we have lived and thus integrate it more fully into our journeys. Then writing can become life-saving for us and sometimes for others too. Henri Nouwen
This is only one of the reasons that today is one of my favourite days of the year. For the third time we have run a day for people who are interested in writing about youth work, for Grove Books (www.grovebooks.co.uk) or in other contexts. It is such an encouragement and a blessing to be able to help facilitate people’s writing and to encourage people to share their experiences and insights more widely with others. Jo Whitehead who works with us at MCYM and I co-facilitate the day, this year aided by some short films where others shared their writing experiences. We don’t do it as experts but as people who enjoy writing, have found it to be therapeutic, beneficial for enhancing self-awareness and practice and with a shared passion to equip people to fulfil their potential and become more effective ministers in whatever field they are in.
It was a day to catch up with old friends, to meet people in real life I have only met on social media and to listen to people’s stories, passions and experiences and to see a growing confidence and inspiration that their story could illuminate the journey of others too. I have started keeping a gratitude journal, this day will certainly feature in it! We have a date in the diary for next year already!
Henri J M Nouwen Bread for the Journey London DLT 1996:135.