September 29, 2020
September 28, 2020
I wish I could say that some famous writer inspired me to write. Certainly Thornton Berges enchanted me as a boy with his Fables of the Green Forest. J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis fired my imagination with their fiction books. And I wanted to live in Zilpha Keatly Snider's Black and Blue Magic paperback. How wonderful, I thought, it would be to be able to fly like a bird with nothing but fresh air surrounding me.
The boring truth is that a certain work counselor started me writing professionally. I forgot his name but not what he encouraged me to do.
I had written CD and cassette reviews for music fan magazines as a hobby. When I showed my tear sheets to the counselor, he suggested I become a professional writer. That appealed to me as I could work from home.
My freelancing success was limited by my poor eyesight. Even so, I had a computer and a screen reader which read aloud my work.
I also used the Reading Edge machine at the library to read scanned in magazines. It made studying publications for possible article sales easier for me.
Now I blog for the Lord, providing readers with the excellent Bible teaching I've learned since coming out of a cult. The Epistle of Saint Jude is my inspiration and I hope I'm contending for the faith to Christ's satisfaction.
September 27, 2020
It has been said, we stand on the shoulders of giants to reach new heights. Each generation offers something to encourage and inspire those who follow as an uninterrupted chain. Hebrews 11 is a list of imperfect people who set an example of faith. This list forms the start of my mentors in the faith. Sarah laughed and yet became the mother of nations. I have no desire to be recorded as a matriarch of society. Instead of seeking to imitate their accomplishments, I seek to imitate their faith by following the path God has for me. These stories show God is faithful both to call His people and to lead them.
My faith mentors include individuals I have encountered over the years. My grade three Sunday school teacher, Mrs. Jones, instilled the value of reading the Bible not just hearing the stories. Mrs. Sheppard and Sarah Wall set an example of encouragement backed by prayer. There are many more that could be named and I fear I would miss some.
There are similar examples in my creative life as well. I grew up reading just about anything I could get my hands on from 'Winnie the Pooh' to 'Charlotte's Web'; from Anne of Green Gables to Nancy Drew. Libraries opened a world of characters and places I could inhabit through imagination. Mystery, fantasy, biography, adventure, the list of styles and genres I read is extensive. I can not stomach horror and do not enjoy romance much. I will not write horror and said I would not write romance. I had to take that back when family encouraged me to read some romance and give writing it a try. Ass a result, a very rough draft sits on my shelf waiting for further attention. From that experience, I learned not to say never because the unexpected happens. Influences and mentors come from unexpected places and in unexpected ways. Some mentors I have sought out, such as when I read the published journals of L. M. Montgomery, others surprised me.
In life and in craft, I seek to keep my eyes and ears open. There are things that can be learned everywhere because God is everywhere and He is moulding us for His purposes in order to shine His light into the world. I pray I pay attention to His direction with a willingness to follow where He is leading me. Then I may become a link in the chain of examples for those who follow.
September 26, 2020
The wind does not have a shadow. Clouds blown by the wind may cast a shadow, but clouds also have specks of matter in them. Yet we do not see shadows on cloudy days. Shadows can be seen only when light is cast onto something physical.
Projecting this into the Christian realm, mightn’t we be shadows? We are physical. We are a representative of an unseen Spirit. So, when the Spirit’s light shines, does it not cause us to show His unseen Spirit, like a shadow? Is the purpose of a shadow to make the unseen, seen?
I have had shadows influence my life. Some have been scary. But shadows who have influenced my writing style, my voice, and my desire to write, while intimidating, are not scary. Let me tell you about some.
As I post this blog, we are in the middle of the Inscribe (Virtual) Fall Conference. Did you think I was going to say we are in a pandemic called COVID? We are in that, as well, which is the reason our Fall Conference changed from in-person to virtual. I hope you have been able to take in some of the Conference. It has been spectacular. Meeting with Christian writers from across the country is priceless. Many writers from Inscribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship have been my mentors.
When we moved from Big River to Saskatoon, I took a huge risk and called the local Inscribe group to find out how to join them. Linda Hall was the leader then, and it was in that group where I met Janice Dick, Joy Bailey, Sheri Hathaway, and others. They allowed me to believe I could write for fun, never needing to share my writing. God was pushing me into His will.
One year I was able to go to Conference in Edmonton. Sheila Webster phoned me before Conference to invite me to share at the author's reading. I felt I not only had nothing to share, but I was also intimidated by these published authors who treated me like I was a writer, too.
The president the year I went to Conference was Marcia Laycock. She may not remember, but she spoke with me that weekend. The President! Spoke to me! I knew God had placed Inscribe into my life as a billboard. Don’t we always want a sign?
When we left Saskatoon to return to northern BC, I missed meeting with Christian writers. Again, I took a risk and “put out there” in our new home that I was hosting a local Inscribe Christian writers’ group. Shortly after, Tracy Krauss and her husband dropped in at our church. This prolific writer who makes publishing seem a simple task is now our President. Her visit was the encouragement I needed to maintain my membership with Inscribe.
Tracy invited me (challenged is a better word) to post in the Inscribe Writers’ Online blog - every month. I had never been that consistent in writing except in my journals. I had not shared much of my writing where strangers could read. But I took that opportunity and continue to post in this blog.
One summer evening in Barkerville for a wedding, Wally and I were staying at a bed and breakfast. Wally was ill, so I put on his “social” hat. His hat doesn’t fit me well, but I went down for evening tea. As I chatted with a couple, they asked polite questions. I answered vaguely. Then I boldly stated, “I’m a writer.” Terry, the more outgoing of the couple, immediately said, “so is Alan!” I apologetically clarified I only posted on a Christian writers’ blog. Alan Anderson and I then realized we were speaking with a fellow Inscriber. The Spirit shines through this compassionate couple, but there was no mistaking the mallet God used in this “chance encounter” to push me further along this path of words.
Ruth Snyder, then President of Inscribe, encouraged me to help. She introduced me to what goes on behind the scenes to keep Inscribe running. When I met Bobbi Junior I immediately loved her. This spunky woman worked full-time, had health issues, and volunteered many hours. She was Inscribe's treasurer, mainstay, and problem-solver. During all that, she still published two books. The executive team mentors all around them, with God's light shining brightly to reveal their faith-filled shadows.
So many other Inscribe members have been and continue to be my mentors. I find Inscribe writers are faithful to God and to their writing projects. The group inspires me to continue to develop as a writer.
Scripture says, “But you have received the Holy Spirit, and he lives within you, so you don’t need anyone to teach you what is true. For the Spirit teaches you everything you need to know, and what he teaches is true—it is not a lie. So just as he has taught you, remain in fellowship with Christ.” (1 John 2:27 NLT)
Do you feel God's light directing His shadow onto your writing? Is His shadow nipping at your heels to be sewn into your writing life? Inscribe is a fellowship of writers who allow God to be their shadow.
Marnie writes from northern BC.
God continues to cast His shadow onto her life while she walks with Him and grows as a writer.
September 25, 2020
“The Shadow knows.” Some of you may recognize this line from an old detective drama that used to be on the radio. Though television had replaced radio by the time I was born, there was still one A.M. station that broadcast many of the old programs all through my youth. The Shadow was an alter ego with many characteristics and since my shadow mentors are wide and varied, I have gathered them together into one super-sized alter ego mentor. Here are a few things I have gleaned from this giant creation.
Voice - We know the Lord is speaking when we hear a voice that could only be His. We recognize the distinct voices of family and friends who are closest to us. We can also recognize authors by their voice. Through the words they write and how they flow off the page to splash in our eyes and trickle in our ears. It is like a writer’s fingerprint. We can read a passage and often know before we look at the reference who wrote it. It is an encouragement to find our own voice, knowing it too is unique.
Creativity – Many different genres, many different points of view with the same subject matter or story line. It’s amazing. Though the base line may be the same, the way an author expands a subject or the way the story is molded in each hand is vastly different. It’s like music. There are only so many notes but every composer takes those scales and puts them together in their own special way. The notes speak to their heart, create a melody and then flow out as a masterpiece. So it is with those who craft words. Vocabulary is limited and each person melds words together inside their soul until they pour out as ink on a page. These mentors encourage us to have our own waterfall of creativity. They urge us to be ourselves, no, more than that, they let us know that it is imperative to be true to our own tide of creative waters.
Inspiration – I have notes. I have lots of notes. And lists. And bits of paper with a scribbled reference. They have come from a myriad of sources but mostly from workshops, writing groups, courses and reading. They all get tucked away in a file. Well, some of them have been lucky enough to find a home. Others are spread hither and thither and may be found at the bottom of my purse or in the back of a desk drawer or some other dark corner. But they all get re-read at some point. Not often, but every once in awhile and they spur me on as I remember the motivation the note generated as I wrote it. To all who lead workshops or courses, know that you are mentoring those who are listening. Your words are not just heard and then forgotten. You are an inspiration.
Process – My favourite writing quotation is by Philip Roth and can be found in his book ‘The Ghost Writer’. But I found it in Philip Yancey’s book ‘Finding God in Unexpected Places’.
“I turn sentences around. That’s my life. I write a sentence and then I turn it around. Then I look at it and I turn it around again. Then I have lunch. Then I come back in and write another sentence. Then I have tea and turn the new sentence around. Then I read the two sentences over and turn them both around. Then I lie down on the sofa and think. Then I get up and throw them out and start from the beginning”
This is his process. This may be your process. We all have a methodology, a process that helps us to write. This reminds us to do what works best for us as individuals.
Shadows of mentorship may be found in many places and through many people, provided we remain open to the teachable moment. May your mentors be many and may you separate the silt from the river so that your writing flows for your purposes and for His. Meditate, ruminate and create. May we never give up and never stop learning.