November 10, 2019

Are you still writing? by Sharon Espeseth

Yes, I’m still writing, but. . .
Are you still writing, Sharon?

When I run into friends or acquaintances I haven’t seen for a while, they often ask me, “Are you still writing, Sharon?" Then the person might refer to a story of mine they read in a certain publication. I feel,  apologetic--to them or to myself--for not having a book of my own out there.

In conversation, I may add that I write a blog for InScribe Writer’s Online once a month. That doesn’t seem like much, but it is an accumulation of work. The present period of my life has been busy, but then each decade of life has had its time gobblers. That’s what I’ve always told myself. But I come up defenceless, against Julia Cameron’s chapter, “The Time Lie” in the Right to Write.

Cameron claims, “The myth that we must have ‘time'--more time--in order to create is a myth that keeps us from using the time we do have. If we are forever yearning for ‘more,’ we are forever discounting what is offered.” Single parenting, along with full-time teaching and full-time writing, she says, taught her “to grab for time to write instead of wait for time.” As prolific as Ms. Cameron is in several art forms, she has learned to live beyond the convenience of the “'if-I-had-time’ lie.” (pp. 14-15)

But I write not to criticize myself, but to celebrate! 

Today, being November 9th when I’m writing, I am celebrating my birthday and I am also celebrating what Susan Barclay referred to as my “oeuvre." Today's blog is my 82nd blog on IWO. I have written, I believe, each month since I began on June 10, 2012, except for two months when I was ill.

Celebration: Photo by Frame Harirak of Unsplash
I do have a body of work. My blogs above, for example, all 82 of them, but what should I do with them? I wonder. I have stories published in six anthologies.

Stories in Six Anthologies
I have five hefty binders filled with my stories, anecdotes, articles and poems that have been published in Western Producer, Grainews, Edmonton Journal, Western Catholic Report--which no longer exists, Devo’zine, and other places. I worked for four years with Alberta Distance Learning, where I worked on developing primary course material. I have a box with stories that I hope to develop into a memoir. And I have a start on a devotional book for writers.

Potential Memoir
Where did all these ideas come from? 

Julia Cameron, in The Right to Write, wrote a chapter called, “Let Yourself Listen.” She talks about listening rather than speaking, about getting things down on paper rather than straining to think things up. “Julia,” one of my favourite writers on writing, claims that writing then becomes "the art of taking dictation rather than giving it.”

Listening: Photo by Luve Christian of Unsplash
When one's writing becomes an act of listening rather than an act of speaking, “. . . a great deal of the ego goes out of it.” We become less self-conscious about our writing. We write with more ease. And we become “the vehicle of self-expression.” I like the conclusion to her chapter on listening: “When we are just the vehicle, the storyteller and not the point of the story, we often write very well--we certainly write more easily.” (pp. 10-11)

I try to listen before I write. Sometimes it’s a quote I’ve read, a book I’m reading, a discussion I’ve had with a friend or writing buddy. I scratch things down in my notebook. Then I hear something else and it connects to what I’ve just discovered or a theme I keep bumping into. A blog, devotional or an article may start to gel. It’s  not quite set, but I pick up my pen or settle down at the keyboard and I begin to write. At that point, I might hear, or feel,"This is the way. Write about it."

Adjustments and Moving Forward in Faith and Writing

Hank (aka Dad and Pap) hanging out with some of the crew
Some of you know my husband has been ill the last few years, so the two of us continue to make adjustments to our lives and habits. While Hank was in hospital recently, my early morning writing and devotional time didn’t work. Now, he’s home and feeling somewhat better. Mornings allow a more reflective pace. I’ll try again to write and use my time wisely, while remaining mindful that I am a caregiver and a writer.

I’ve been reading and marking up my copy of The Right to Write, as far as I’ve read. I knew I wanted to refer to this book in my blog. Previously, The Artist’s Way, also by Julia Cameron, energized my writing. Following the exercises and activities helped me get back into writing then. I plan to do the same with this book.

For me, “Julia’s" writing provides spiritual insights as well as writing perspective. Devotional time works well for me when I read the Bible, pray and write. Writing often becomes prayer and prayer often turns into writing.

Closing Thought: “Few souls understand what God would accomplish in them if they were to abandon themselves unreservedly to him and if they were to allow his grace to mould them accordingly.” St. Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556)

May it be so, Lord. May it be so.


  1. Congratulations on your 82nd post here! Writing is an active response to listening. That's what comes to mind from your words and am pondering them deeply. Thank you for your wise words!

  2. Thank you for your congratulations and commendations. Yes, I aprreciateyour summation, “Writing is an active response to listening.” Blessings, Lynn.

  3. Your list of writing accomplishment is impressive. No need to apologize! I am always encouraged and inspired by your words each month. Thank you for continuing to be faithful to write.

  4. Thank you for your encouragement, Tracy, and I’m learning to trust God more fully for the rest.

  5. Happy Birthday, Sharon!! Congratulations on the number of blog posts you have contributed and for all the other pieces of writing you have accomplished. Thanks for sharing the advice about making the time. So true and well said. I often wonder why a book seems so important to most of with all of the other writing accomplishments we have but like you, I think about a book as well. Needless to say, the question, "Are you still writing?" confirms that you are a writer. People have read your stories. That's wonderful!

    1. Maybe we feel that having a book published makes us writers, but, truly, if we are writing, we are writers. Thanks for you encouragement, Vickie.

  6. You echo many of my own thoughts and feelings about my writing, Sharon. I'm choosing to consider the writing I have done, some published, rather than the yet unrealized goal of a book. We ARE writers, whether we have a book published or not. Let's take some satisfaction from that.

  7. You have written faithfully, Sharon!

    1. Thanks, Pam. You also have been a faithful writer and a strong support to InScribe. Bless you.

  8. Congratulations, Valerie, on being a writer. I agree with you that we need to consider the writing we have done. That’s why I am celebrating what I have done instead of what I haven’t done, but this is a new approach for me. As a writer I need to write. This has been a problem for me these past few years, so I need to get used to making use of small amounts of time. Thanks for joining the conversation, Valerie.

  9. Hi Sharon! I love your idea of a devotional for writers. I also love the practice of, "listening rather than speaking." I used this all the time when I worked as a chaplain. I hope and pray you keep on writing, Sharon. Your words always find a place in my heart.

  10. Thank you, Alan for your letting me know that my “words always find a place in (your) heart.” Your comment is heartening to me. Blessings.

  11. Hi Sharon, I love the way you describe your writing process of listening. Listening for a quote, a book idea, a thoughtful discussion. "This is the way. Write about it," was an important takeaway for me. We also listen to God's prompting when a work is ready to be written. I too pray you will keep on writing.

  12. Yes, Sandi, we certainly need to listen to God’s prompting when we are actually writing and even when editing or deciding where to submit each piece. Thanks for your comment, Sandi.

  13. You have been prolific, Sharon. I enjoy reading your posts each month, even though it may not be in a timely fashion. We all go through seasons in our writing lives; the main thing is to keep writing, even if we have to make necessary adjustments. All the best, my friend, as you continue on the path the Lord has set before you.

  14. Thank you, Susan, for your encouraging comments. I enjoy and always get a message from reading your posts as well. I was thinking that you’ve been writing here for a good while also, so I checked. You have 76 posts, so we started writing IWO about the same time. Interesting. Also, you gave me the idea to write from a celebratory viewpoint this month. Thanks for that. Last month at the Women Word Weavers, I read my post, so they celebrated with me!


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