November 10, 2015

Growing with InScribe Then and Now by Sharon Espeseth

Sometime during the mid eighties a small group of Barrhead women banded together to form a writing group. I'm not sure what we called our little troupe at that time, but we met in Carol Stewart's basement and we sometimes had workshops in the Library.

Most of us were young married women with children. Carol, a pastor's wife and writer, was older, wiser, and more experienced than we were in writing and getting our work published. What an asset she was to our group, as mentor, encourager, and spiritual sister. Together we wrote and sent our writing to various markets. I started keeping a binder of our collective, published works. This became an amazing collection.

Carol was a member of Alberta Christian Writers and encouraged us to join this groups. A few of us did, and I remember fondly a Fall Conference at King's College in Edmonton when four of us attended . Comparing notes with Audrey Shield at yesterday's Word Weavers meeting in Barrhead, we decided this might have been during the late nineties with Luci Shaw as keynote speaker.

I smile now to think of Luci Shaw, this inspiring woman, who, at 71 years of age, would take her
Sharon at Luci's age at time of conference
journals with her on a solo camping trip. For two weeks each year, Luci dedicated this time away to mine her journals and make them into stories or poems. Audrey and I chuckle, now, at how brave and determined we thought she was to do this in her "elder years". Ironically, I turned one year older than that yesterday.

Preparing for this blog, I hunted for her book, Water my Soul: Cultivating the Interior Life, which I suspect I have lent to a friend. I would not have been foolish enough to downsize this book. I vividly recall one story from Water My Soul that occurred while she was grieving for her first husband. Luci's was watching her young granddaughter paint. Since the child hadn't figured out how to dab the excess water from her brush, the large paper was gray and murky. Luci remembers thinking how her life was like that--dull, gray and murky.

Suddenly, the young artist discovered how to dab off the excess water. A vivid green appeared and in the corner of her pape and grew. This was the message Ms. Shaw needed: life would not always be dreary for her. She too could learn to discover and observe the green around her.

I also have a book of her poems--Writing the River, in which Ms. Shaw revisits this time of grieving. Reading on I discovered that during this period, she had built a small cabin in the words with a stream flowing under her deck. In her introduction to this book, which is one of her journal entries, we read,  

"This creek is like my stream of consciousness. All day and all night it is in the background of my listening and thinking. It is there as I write, or stoke the woodstove, or sleep (dreaming), or make soup. I often peer out at it, or step onto the deck to listen to it, as if I need to check it... I think it is myself I am checking. It is my metaphor—intensely personal. I am writing a stream. I am living a creek." 

What a metaphor! Writing (and Living)  the River
by Luci Shaw

This particular Fall Conference was memorable for me, perhaps because I found Luci Shaw a kindred spirit. This year's Fall Conference was great and last year's conference was great, and so on, but I will just share this one conference for now.

I am thankful for the several conferences I have attended and for the InScriber friends I  have gathered along the way, whether online or in person. What a fabulous group of gifted, humble, and loving people we have on our rosters! I could say names, but the list would be long and I would, no doubt, leave an important name off the list. Thanks to all of you for the part you play in this Christian organization. It matters not to what denomination you belong, or what genre you write, or where you live; I thank each one of you for the part you play in InScribe Christian Writer's Fellowship and for what you mean to me personally.

I remain active in our local group, which is a satellite group of ICWF. At one  point, we named our local group the Women Word Weavers--a name that stuck. Members have come and gone, but a core group has stayed and we continue to work together. Some years ago, my sister Wendy, who also dabbles in writing, suggested I read The Wednesday Sisters,a novel by Meg Waite Clayton. This novel is a lovely reminder of how our group, and maybe yours, might operate and how we might grow individually. (I don't, however, remember The Wednesday Sisters being a spiritual group,  per se. Maybe someone  elseneeds to write that book.)

Yesterday we held our meeting in Barrhead for WWW and a lovely meeting it was. We were eight of us. Marianne Stamm, who is an out-of-country member, was home from Switzerland where she is now living. Her newly published book, Laughter in the Shadows: Stories of Courage from 11 Zambian Women is out. I bought my copy of her book. A couple of the ladies had bought their books last week. Both of them said they found it hard to put this book down, so they had read and were recommending this book.

Marianne's hard work and success in writing is an inspiration to each of us. She reminds us how we helped her get started on this journey. She gives us a gentle pep talk about how each of us has writings ready to take us to the next level. I remind the group of what we do give to each other. I remind my friends of ripe fruit ICWF has waiting for each of us, and that much of this fruit is available on the low branches. I remind the ladies that InScribe has a special offer for membership until the end of November.

These are a few of our WWW members past or .present.
Thanks, my friends, for the memories!

Anita, one of our newer members, calls us a "kick-a_ _ group," because we actively write. Previous groups she belonged to were good at making excuses about why they hadn't written anything this month.


  1. Your WWW is a Kick-a__ group? The Edmonton Writer's Cafe describes ourselves as 'writing dangerously'. Writing groups can take on real personalities, can't they? I love hearing how yours has evolved, Sharon. We're only a few years old, but already the strength we've gained from one another, first, as sister in Christ, and then as Word Warriors, is truly a God-wink! May the WWWs make great inroads for the Lord!

    1. I just recently read Romans 12:5-16a, and it came to me how we at InScribe are one body in Christ. Although we are all writers, we have different gifts "according to the grace given to us." Paul advises us to "love one another with mutual affection" and "outdo one another in showing honour." Does this sound familiar?

      How about this with our larger body of InScribe and also within our satellite groups: "Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord." I could go on with "Bless those who persecute you. . . Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep" I'll stop before I have typed the whole book of Romans. You can check the reference given and all my best to you in your groups. May you grow together in love. If you haven't found a suitable writing group, this could be a subject for prayer.

  2. I love this post, Sharon--and enjoyed getting more insight into InScribe from your personal perspective. I have never heard Luci Shaw speak but I love her poetry and wish I could have been with you at that one conference. It is beautiful the way God leads and guides and I'm thankful you are still a part of InScribe. Thanks for sharing your heart today.

    1. When Luci Shaw came to mind as one of my great influencers, someone I can look up to and still identify with, a yearning to read more of her writing came over me. I will be reading more about her at, and I will be tracking down more of her books.

  3. I was so inspired by this lovely post, Sharon. From hearing about your group and how it has changed and grown etc. to being introduced to Luci shaw, whom I had not heard of before. Thank you . You continue to inspire and mentor others by your wisdom, authenticity and caring.

    1. Thank you for your kind comments, Tracy. I highly recommend Luci Shaw for both her prose and poetry and for what she can teach us about life in Christ.. She covers several genres, and this is a good reminder to me to get back to reading. For more info on her writing, go to and click on Writings. There you will find interesting book reviews on her considerable library of writing.

  4. Enjoyed your blog, Sharon. Thank you for the books and authors you shared, I want to track down some of Luci Shaw's writings. Thank you for the encouragement; we need to keep encouraging one another to write! Blessings! (And belated happy birthday!)

  5. Maybe we'll all be competing for, or sharing, some of Luci's books. Thanks for your comments, blessings and even belated B.D. greetings. :-)

  6. Hi Sharon. I really enjoyed your post and particularly hearing about all the friendship connections you have made over the years through your writing...that has been a weak area for me possibly because I have moved so much. Inscribe has been good for me to connect with some other writers on line. I loved the part where Lucy Shaw talks about her creek under her porch! I am a water person....water makes me feel so happy and peaceful...I will be checking out her work also...and being as we live in a log house on the prairies I think I may be trying to think of ways to make a creek run under my porch now too's very funny considering we are a dry province with very few streams and creeks...maybe a man made one? ;)

  7. Luci's Creek was in the US. I read somewhere in her material where exactly she lives, and, no, it wasn't on the prairies. I believe her cottage is/was near Bellingham, WA, but I can't locate that bit of information. We'll just have to read more of her books and discover more details. Hers too is a little cottage in the woods, so all the best with discovering a river or creek, Gloria. I love water too, but I am nervous about flooding.

    For anyone interested, an InScribe friend tells me that Luci Shaw was the keynote speaker for 1998.

  8. Sharon,
    Thanks for this encouraging, insightful post. I will always remember meeting you at my first InScribe conference in 2010. You have such a warm, caring personality and you make each of your friends feel special. Of course, we hit it off immediately because of our similar experiences, but you have kept that connection strong. Thanks for your contribution to InScribe and for being obedient to God's still, small voice in your life. You are an inspiration!

  9. I remember that first meeting, Ruth, and, we did have a common bond in family and faith. You likewise have been a blessing to me and to all of us for the good leadership you have given InScribe. You are creative, disciplined and you have a way of inspiring the rest of us to be faithful to God and to our writing. Thanks.


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