April 05, 2016

Advice from Downton Abbey by Glynis M Belec

A little while ago my happy hubby and I got hooked on Downton Abbey. During one of our extreme DA extravaganzas, I heard Robert Crawley, the Earl of Grantham utter some wise words. And somehow they became engrained on my cerebral hard drive. I thought it a splendid reminder for many reasons.

“If we don’t respect the past we’ll find it harder to build the future.”

I know, on Downton Abbey, this one liner had nothing to do with writing and all to do with not casting aside townsfolk for the sake of progress.

But, as I am often wont to do with many things these days, I started thinking about that remarkable quote as it might pertain to writing.

What does it mean to me, as a writer, to respect the past?  And how can I incorporate some advice for new writers and try to build a better future?

In my hooptedoodle world, I have always struggled with being organized and setting priorities. It was very odd, but when I first started writing, it was like I had to ‘set the stage before I started’.  Before I wrote I thought I had to wake up, clean up and tidy up. Maybe it was because I did not see my writing as a priority, I thought I had to put everything in order before I put my brain in gear and get words on a page. I didn’t get much done for a long time.

Then I began to learn. I attended conferences and learned from the best. I read many books on the craft of writing and found out how the writers I loved and respected managed. I took courses and joined writing groups. I entered contests and gained courage to write and speak about the passions of my heart. Best of all, I made friends. Lots and lots of writerly friends who ended up being so much more

I tried all sorts of writing approaches. I listened and learned and tried to apply all that acquired wisdom to my beloved craft.

I talked to God and I do believe [after many years] I finally understood that this gift He had given me was truly one to be respected and cherished and used for His ultimate glory.  

As I think back, the same year I accepted the Lord as my Saviour, was the same year my writing career began. (Do I hear a Hallelujah?] I had just moved to the little community where I still reside. At the time, I thought it all a coincidence, but I had spotted an advertisement for a 12 week freelance writing course. I signed up right away, not quite sure what to expect.

I fell in love with the writing process. I dared to contact the local newspaper – they gave me my start. I stayed as a regular columnist for 11 years. So many doors opened and so many opportunities were presented.

I sulked when I faced rejection. Then I learned it was part of the process.

I wanted to quit when I discovered it wasn’t all wine and roses. But then I decided that wasn’t my goal.

God said no to some things even though it looked like that was where the big bucks were. Then I understood that writing for an audience of One bestowed blessings (true riches) on me like I could never imagine.

I respect the past because God was there. I will continue to commit my work to God because he gave me a gift for which I am truly grateful.

I will still work hard because I know that just because I have passion and ability, doesn’t mean I have perfection.

I know the Earl of Grantham was on the right track as he reminded those within earshot about the importance of learning from the past and showing gratitude and respect to those who helped make the Yorkshire Dales a better place to grow. He felt responsible and remembered those who contributed to his success and growth. Impressive titles and great wealth was not the most important matter. It was the relationships formed and the teamwork involved that truly was the mark of true progress and success.

So it is with the writing life. I cannot even begin to think about the many people who have helped me along the way. But I do know that I did not stay a writer for 30 years on my own steam. God motivated me and blessed me. Teachers and writers and a thousand others help pave the way. For that I will remain truly grateful and I will endeavour to do my part to ‘pay it forward.’

Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established   
Proverbs 16:3


  1. Thank you for reminding me to remember it is our relationships, especially the one we have with the One who created us, that are most important on this world journey of ours.

    1. Sometimes we forget that, don't we Lynn? And then we wonder why we flounder. We all need a little reminder now and again and a lot of times - I talk to myself for that very reason! ;)

  2. Loved this post Glynis! (And I love Downton Abbey, too!)

    1. Thanks, Tracy. I laughed at Gilles, my Happy Hubby. He kind of sighed when I brought season one home from the library - thinking it would take precedence over all things sports. Well let me tell you, byt the time we were well into season 3, he was the one saying, "Do you want to watch another episode?" And this was during hockey season! Haha.

      And that was a bit of good advice from Robert Crowley, was it not? ;)

  3. I've got to get those Downton Abbey programs!! Glad they inspired this column, Glynis. You made some good points. In my case, I have to respect the past even though I didn't discover the joys of being a writer until I was (cough) mature! Well, at least I didn't think of myself as a writer even though I did a lot of writing. So instead of wishing I would have developed and refined my writing skills to be more productive sooner, I will just thank God that it happened and pray that he'll let me continue yet for awhile.

    1. God had whole big to-do list to complete before he opened wide the door for you, Ruth. But now, look at you and look at the hearts your words have touched! Bless you and do get the Downton Abbey series. I think you will get just as addicted as Gilles (and, okay - me, too!)

  4. Your post made me smile, although I don't know anything about Downtown Abbey. It is so fascinating when situations line up for us--like your getting a column assigned at the newspaper and a writing course was waiting for you, and finding writing colleagues. And the way you were helped and now do so much to help other writers. God is good. Thanks for this blog.

  5. I love hearing more of YOUR story. And what a great quote from Downton Abbey. Thanks.


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