November 19, 2016


It is wonderful to welcome back one of our long time contributors, now turned guest blogger - Bryan Norford - who is weighing in on this months topic. Enjoy his sage advice.

I’ve been reading with both favour and concern the blogs this month on the “dry times.” With favour, because most recognize those times are part of life. Solomon wrote, “There is a time for everything,” Eccl. 3:1. That prompted the following from my devotional in our book, Happy Together.

There’s nothing like a day of accomplishment when everything goes according to plan and is complete. But we also have frustrating days of redo, repair, or failure, achieving nothing of significance.

Upon reflection, we realize that there must be times for preparation, planning, and evaluation; times for correcting previous work or adapting to changing circumstances; even times for rethinking and renewing the way we live.

In the big picture both the time of advance and apparent retreat are all part of the same process. To advance tomorrow as we did yesterday, we may need to retrench today. Today’s reading gives some rationale to this process. In it we recognize a bigger picture than we can see, even when questions are unanswered: “the burden God has laid on men.”

This is particularly true of the setbacks of life, which baffle us. At those times, Ecclesiastes exhorts us to find satisfaction in the daily routine, recognizing that every day has meaning in God’s bigger picture beyond our grasp.

But I also read others with concern, typified by Shirley Tye’s honest blog, of the frustration so many experience during those times. My experience has been so different. Let me suggest some reasons why.

I didn’t start serious writing until I was in my mid sixties, and then I only wrote those things I felt passionate about. Unfortunately the older I get, the more I feel passionate about, and my continuing problem is how to fit in all I am constrained to write.

Consequently, apart from the initial  panic staring at a blank page we all have at times, I have never had a dry period to contest. Of course, I have the advantage of being retired, and I don’t need to write to make money. Nor does erratic response—even no response!—dictate what I write.

My primary motivation in writing is the legacy I feel compelled to leave. First, of course, to my family—children, grandchildren, great grandchildren—but also to the wider community after my departure.

Now, at eighty, with prostate cancer creeping into my bones, I still have so much on my heart to write, and I’m not sure I’ll have time to complete it! Check my website to see some of my work over the last fifteen years or so:

So let me finish with some good advice from Strunk and White’s, The Elements of Style, that always lurks in the back of my mind.

It is now necessary to warn you that your concern for the reader must be pure: you must sympathize with the reader’s plight (most readers are in trouble about half the time) but never seek to know the reader’s wants. Your whole duty as a writer is to please and satisfy yourself, and the true writer always plays to an audience of one. Start sniffing the air, or glancing at the Trend Machine, and you are as good as dead, although you may make a nice living. (p. 84)


  1. It was wonderful to hear your 'voice' once again on the blog. You write so eloquently and always have something of substance to say. You are missed!

  2. The word eloquence, or eloquently, also came to my mind, Tracy, and then I notice you used it. But that's just fine, because some words, thoughts and opinions bear repeating. I'll be back to read this again, Brian, because I may need this encouragement as soon as tomorrow. :-) Thanks.

  3. Thank you for this. Being true to yourself is a hard thing if you want to make money but for me, that's the only way the passion stays alive.
    Take care and you will be in my prayers with your health concerns.


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