Just Jo’Anne

A Life of Their Own

keyboard-65042It was quiet. The author had gone to bed but Chloe couldn’t sleep – not now that she’d found out what could happen to her. She stared at the screen that was the barrier between herself and her creator. What could she do? She didn’t want to die.

It was a conundrum. She had only just become aware of the screen and that there was someone on the other side determining her destiny. What right had the author to dictate her fate? That she could die in 1952? It wasn’t fair and it wasn’t right. But what could she do about it?

Chloe reached out and touched the screen. She thought it might have been electrified but it was cool to the touch. She placed both hands on the shimmering surface and to her astonishment they went through the iridescence. She stumbled forward and found herself in another realm.

She caught her breath. How could this be possible? Then again she’d travelled in time and space from present day Melbourne to 1950s France. That hadn’t been impossible – not according to the author – so why couldn’t she leap beyond the story? She was real – in all the ways that mattered – and she could determine her own destiny.

Chloe glanced around the room. She was in a house not that much bigger than her own.  She smiled to herself at the snoring coming from what must be the bedroom then jumped as a little voice behind her said, “Hello.” She let out a nervous giggle when she realised it was a small pet bird.

The snoring stopped and she held her breath, cursing her lack of self-control. What would she do if she were discovered? But the snoring resumed again and all was well.

Chloe turned her attention to the computer. She’d memorised the password from the last log on and it was simple to find the Scrivener file. She frowned as she read through the latest chapter. This would never do. She pondered for a moment. If she erased the text, the author would just rewrite it. Chloe didn’t know if she’d be able to escape from the pages again any time soon. The author usually shut the computer down at night. She bit her lip as she searched through the other files. Research … character … outline … . That was it!

Chloe opened the file. Her eyebrows lifted as she read. She hadn’t thought of that outcome… She chewed on her lip again and a small smile quirked on her lips as she began typing.

The sky outside was developing a faint pink hue when Chloe finished her work. She stood, stretched and placed both hands on the cool screen. In an instant she was back in her own world. At least now her destiny was surer.

The antagonist watched as Chloe reappeared through the shimmering screen and hurried away  down a dark street. He’d been waiting for his chance ever since he’d seen her disappear into that other world. He placed his hands on the screen as she had done and leapt. He smiled with delight as he sat at the desk, cracked his knuckles and began to type.

Several hours later, the author plonked down into her seat and placed a steaming mug of coffee on the desk next to her computer. She yawned as she logged on but the yawn developed into a sigh. The outline file was open – again. Who was it this time? Last week it was Ethan who seemed to have a life of his own. Didn’t these characters realise that she, the author, was in charge? Why did they always want to take over? She pondered for a while then decided that this would be a great topic for a blog…

It fascinates me that this phenomenon happens again and again when I write. Well … characters don’t literally leap out of the screen and rewrite the story (sometimes it would be good if they could) but most of us have experienced the protagonist who refuses to behave in the way we want them to. I once heard author Diana Gabaldon talk about the writing of her Outlander series. In the initial stages she tried hard to give Claire, her female protagonist, an eighteenth-century voice but she kept sounding like a 20th-century nurse. In the end Diana gave up and constructed a scenario where she could get this 20th-century woman into the eighteenth century. The rest, as they say, is history.

There is an element to every creative process that goes beyond the normal workings of our rational mind. The creative brain reaches into places we would never have dreamed of going ourselves (or maybe we would only have gone there in a dream). And as Christians we can call on the Holy Spirit to further empower our imagination. It makes writing a wonderful, crazy voyage of discovery.

How about you? Have you had characters assume a life of their own and take over mid-story? Did it help or hinder the narrative? Please feel free to comment below, or pop over using the link A Life of Their Own, and let Sue know your thoughts :).

sueSue Jeffrey was born in Scotland but moved to Brisbane, Australia with her family when she was just a wee lass. After a childhood spent reading, drawing and accumulating stray animals, Sue studied veterinary science and later moved to Adelaide where she worked as both a vet and a pastor. After a sojourn of several years in the Australian Capital Territory, Sue returned to Adelaide with two dogs, a very nice husband, and a deep desire to write. Sue has a MA in creative writing and her short stories and poems have appeared in several anthologies including Tales of the Upper Room, Something in the Blood: Vampire Stories With a Christian Bite and Glimpses of Light. Sue won the ‘short’ category in the inaugural Tabor Adelaide/ Life FM ‘Stories of Life’ award and her e-book, ‘Ruthless The Killer: A Short Story,’ is available from Amazon.com. Sue also paints animal portraits.

Thank you, Sue 🙂  I just love this post.

Sue has taken her creativity to a different level. Yes, those characters are real, in our heads anyway *grinning*.  If they weren’t real, there’d be no story to tell.

A Life of Their Own was published on Christian Writers Downunder Blog on December 8th, 2016

Who is your neighbour?

It’s so easy to walk by without noticing. Will I notice when my heart is needed most? Will you?

One Sunday I arrived at Church after several weeks of absence. I was pleasantly surprised by the topic ‘Who is your neighbour?’  I walked in late (nothing unusual for me), but at least aaaI got there in time to hear our pastor’s wonderful sermon.

Ps Peter’s sermons usually strike a chord with me, but last Sunday it made the bells chime!

Yes, who are our neighbours, and how are we expected to treat them?

I always thought that those in society who are financially well off, or indeed very, very wealthy, would find it a lot harder to find peace and ultimately achieve paradise, with our heavenly Father. I was wrong on two accounts.

Firstly, being rich need not necessarily mean having vast amounts of money in the bank. We can be rich in so many ways, whether it is our good health, our beautiful family, friends, a flower garden we have the joy to tend each day or a myriad of other things. Some people are born blind or have lost their sight, and are unable to see the perfect creations in the same way that many of us can. Some people are deaf and can never hear a sound … like the trickling and tinkling the rain water makes as it cascades down from the gutter, or the early morning greetings we receive from the persistently chirping birds. But did you know that these are often the people that show the most gratitude, are the happiest, and the most generous?

Secondly, just because many of us are rich, doesn’t mean that we are not expected to enjoy these riches. Whether it is money or good health, a beautiful home, wonderful friends, an amazing talent, or any number of things, we must show gratitude for what we have by thanking the ultimate source of our wealth … then paying it forward. Yes, it’s quite simple. We must share with others.

The were five discussion points around healthy and sincere sharing.

  • bbbEat: We all need to eat. Jesus loved to eat. He was always breaking bread with someone. When He went to people’s homes He didn’t immediately break into a full-scale sermon and bible-bash those present into submission. No, He ate and drank with these people in their homes, and got to know them.Yes Jesus was a real foodie. Ah, we have so much in common. In the same way, we need to open our hearts and homes to others and share our gifts. Truly get to know the hearts and minds of our neighbours so that maybe one day they will think ‘what is it about these Christians, why are they so generous with their time, and why are they so impossibly happy? There must be more to this.’
  • cccListen… really listen. We all love to talk, but there are times when we must just zip it, and listen carefully, whether it is to others or just being quiet and still, listening to what is taking place around us.
  • Tell our story. When people are ready to hear about our Jesus, they don’t want to have Bible Verses quoted to them, or perhaps be encouraged to learn specific prayers off by heart. dddNo, they want to hear our story. When did we feel a calling? Have we always been ‘just Christian’ and never given it much thought? Are there any difficult life challenges through which we’ve been assisted by prayer? Tell our story without becoming religious. Real people want to know about people who are just the same as themselves. Once we share our stories, they may feel safe enough to share theirs.

“Teach those who are rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which is so unreliable. Their trust should be in God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment. Tell them to use their money to do good. They should be rich in good works and generous to those in need, always being ready to share with others. By doing this they will be storing up their treasure as a good foundation for the future so that they may experience true life.” ~ 1 Timothy 6:17-19 (NLT)

  • eeeCelebrate! That’s right jump for joy, sing whatever song is in your heart, and enjoy the beautiful gifts and life that God has given us. Get into party mode … but remember to share the joy.
  • fffRelax. This maybe one of the most important points. Often we are so busy doing life that we forget the importance of rest, let alone having the energy it would take to listen, eat, talk, and share generously and graciously with others.

“If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” ~ John 15:10-12

So, have you guessed it yet? Do you know who our neighbours are?

That’s right our neighbours are all around us. We may not know them, they may live overseas. They might be a block or two away from where we live. They could be the elderly woman under the cardboard box, clutching her few possessions, or perhaps the young boy curled up for the night on a park bench. Maybe it’s a child whose parents cannot afford to buy food or presents for Christmas.

With National Others Week coming up on November 6th, it is such a wonderful opportunity to help and share with others. Maybe we could volunteer for the Heading Home/Ending Homelessness Campaign or make a donation if we are short of time. Perhaps we could purchase a gift through Gospel for Asia for a friend or family member, or for someone overseas in a third-world country, putting a smile on their face and a song in their heart. Maybe the K-Mart Christmas Tree is looking like a good idea this year, or we could invite someone into our home for Christmas lunch, who wouldn’t otherwise have anywhere to go. It just takes a wee bit of effort. If we all just do that ‘little something’, this world would be a richer and happier place. gggDon’t you think?

It’s so easy to walk by without noticing. Will I notice when my heart is needed most?

Will you? hhh

“We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop.”  ~ Mother Teresa

I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to comment below and share your thoughts.

Originally published on my Webnode site ‘Just Jo’Anne’ on 25th October 2016

Crazy Busy

“If the worries of life don’t swamp us, the upkeep will.”

~ Pastor Peter Kinsella

Elevation Church, Penrith, NSW.

How often do we hear ourselves telling each other “I’d love to, but I am just so busy!”? Is this some kind of twenty-first-century virus, or are people truly busier than they used to be?

When I was knee-high to a grasshopper, I remember not being so busy, and not just because I was just a wee girl. The adults around me weren’t as busy back then, compared to the ‘grown-ups’ of today. aaChildren were allowed to be children.

To play, get horrifically dirty, laugh, sing, fight … anything at all that didn’t cost a lot of money.

Children were not expected to worry (even though some of us did).

So why are we so darned busy?

I do believe that we human beings have become obsessed with material and worldly objects and possessions. Most importantly, we have forgotten how to play!

For followers of Christ, we should realise that putting things above and ahead of Him is never going to lead to ongoing happiness. Even non-believers would notice that they are much happier when they aren’t rushing around from pillar to post, like ‘Tom and Jerry’ do in one of their skits.

Not that long ago, maybe only twenty years or so, life was so much simpler. Children were happy to play outside in the fresh air. In fact, children like my brother and I, never really wanted to go inside the house before sunset. Back then children didn’t need to be babysat by television sets, computers, Ipads, Ipods, smartphones and the like. Grown-ups didn’t mind owning a second-hand car or washing machine, and they weren’t especially  fussed about owning the most up-to-date model of anything. They were just grateful to have whatever they had.

bbSo what does having more than we know what to do with, have to do with being ‘crazy busy’ I hear you ask? It’s called maintenance! Everything needs to be maintained, and the more things we possess, the more cost and maintenance we will need to sacrifice.

There is a new buzz word this century, MINDFULNESS.

Hmmm … but is it really a new thought wave? Doesn’t being still for a while, taking in our surroundings, and expressing gratitude, amount to the same thing?

We really need to stop worrying and being distracted by the world.

“Now as they were travelling along, Jesus went into a village. A woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home. She had a sister named Mary, who sat down at the Lord’s feet and kept listening to what He was saying. But Martha was worrying about all the things she had to do, so she came to Him and asked, “Lord, you do care that my sister has left me to do the work all by myself, don’t you? Then tell her to help me.” The Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha! You worry and fuss about a lot of things. But there’s only one thing you need. Mary has chosen what is better, and it is not to be taken away from her.”  ~  Luke 10:38-42

ccUntil we stop being ‘crazy busy’ nothing of this life is going to make a lot of sense, and certainly, it won’t bring us happiness, short-term or long-term.

We will never find that beautiful peace if we are always busy doing things, buying things, owning things. We need to stop for a while, be still, and allow Christ to give us a kind of peace that the world can never offer us.

“And the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”  ~  Philippians 4:7

It has taken me until my sixtieth year to really get this. I’m not perfect, though I’m still working on ‘being still’.  I love this quote: “The quieter you become, the more you can hear.”  ~  Ram Dass

What about you? Are you a Martha or a Mary? Are you rushing around day after day, paying heed to all this worldly stuff? Do you remember how to be quiet and still? Can you do it, just for a wee while? I would love to hear from you. Please feel welcome to share your thoughts.

Originally published on my Webnode site ‘Just Jo’Anne’ on 28th September 2016

Addicted to Approval? Writing with Purpose … on Purpose.

A wise man once said “find something that you love to do and do it every day. This way, you will never have to work a day in your life”.

a

The fear of man brings a snare,

But whoever trusts in the Lord shall be safe.

Proverbs 29:25

Have you ever questioned what your life’s purpose really is? I know I have. What motivates me to write? What motivates others to sing or play an instrument?

What makes it worthwhile for each of us to awaken each morning, and do whatever we do over again? Maybe you are an accountant, or drive a truck – or you are a nurse or a teacher. Maybe you are the quiet, shy child at the back of the room, that no one has noticed yet. I am hoping that by telling you why I write and what motivates me, that perhaps you may start thinking about why you do what you do each day, why it is so important to you, and what makes it so motivating and relevant?

As a younger person … a much younger person, I just wanted to make everyone happy. I desperately wanted and thought I needed the approval of everyone around me. It is, of course, a very human trait to crave that approval. We want our parents to approve of us, our friends at school. As we grow older we begin to realise that there are just so many people in the world, that it would be impossible to gain this close kinship with everybody. Why? Because God created each of us uniquely.

When I was first thinking about this post and preparing for it, I thought of calling it “Praying, Living, and Writing On Purpose”, and that is all very well, but we need to also think about doing things ‘with purpose’.  I have loved reading and writing ever since I can remember, however, I never considered it as being a purpose. After school, I went to college and learnt shorthand and touch typing on an incredibly annoying, clunky and old, manual typewriter.  I am sure many in my age group would have done a similar thing. You see, I always wanted to do a university degree in communication … that was it.  Nothing else interested me. Well as there were one-hundred and twenty places at the Institute of Technology, and over two thousand applicants, you guessed it – I became an office worker. No, there was no fancy title … just an office worker.

One day I thought ‘why don’t I study accounting?’.  From that day on it would seem that I had sealed my fate. Not only would I be an office worker, but I would also be an accounts clerk. Now don’t get me wrong, I was rather good at my job, and never found it a problem to learn new systems, time management, and so on.  But the problem was, that I was doing what I thought was responsible, what would bring in an immediate dollar reward.  My job/s served me well, but there was always this constant yearning to do something else with my life.

As a youngster, I was the quiet, shy child down the back of the room. There were times when I would be in trouble for talking to others at the back of the room, but you can be certain that the stories that I had to tell were awe inspiring. Then there were the other times (most of the time) when I would just sit quietly and daydream. That’s when I had my best ideas. Ideas that were just not appreciated by grown-up people.

bA wise man once said “find something that you love to do and do it every day. This way, you will never have to work a day in your life”.  And another quote I have always loved is this:

“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born, and the day you find out why”

~ Mark Twain.

We are all given gifts and talents when we are born, even before we are born. We each have a destiny, but for some of us, it takes a while to realise what the heck we are meant to be doing, and how best to go about it. These days I am a writer, plain and simple … I write (and read of course).

Do I write for the money? Definitely not! The world is run by the dollar, but if I wrote for money I would consider myself to be very poor indeed. Is it recognition then? We wouldn’t be human if we didn’t want to be recognised – I wouldn’t mind publishing a book or two … or three. But I have come to realise that recognition in a human sense, isn’t really that important. Yes, it might pay some bills, but at the end of the day, if I don’t have a passion for what I do, then I won’t be able to tell the true story. As with most things in life, what we put absolutely first on our ‘to-do’ list or list of importance, is what everything else will be based upon.

c “for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.”

~ John 12:43 NKJV

Whether we are Christian writers or any other kind of writer, let us all remember that the purpose of our writing is to tell a story, to get a point across, hopefully in a respectful manner. If our story isn’t getting out there, if people aren’t inspired in some way, then no amount of money or accolades can compensate for the real loss we must feel. And probably if we haven’t inspired anyone, then the money won’t be coming anyway.

Can we be published writers/authors and still share our heart and soul with the world?

I say a resounding ‘yes’!  Jesus wants the talents that His and our Father gave us, to be put to good use. If I ever had to make a decision to publish by telling the wrong story, or a story that came from my heart, but got changed so as to be more acceptable to the public, I wouldn’t see being published as very important at all. As a writer, and a Christian writer to boot – I see my purpose is to spread God’s love to everyone I come into contact with, whether in person or online in cyberspace.

So, what must I do to ensure that my writing can influence people in a positive way?

  1. Pray about it before picking up the pen.
  2. Believe and trust in my ability, which was, after all, a gift from the Father.
  3. Try to always be as consistent as possible. Don’t be swayed by worldly opinions.
  4. I must always be sincere in my efforts (not everyone will or must like me – there will be haters, and that’s okay).

When God-willing I leave this earth, and my creator asks me ‘What have you shown Me during your life’? (taken from “Imagine Heaven” by John Burke). How have you used the gifts which were given to you? How have you thanked God for saving you? I would like to be able to say ‘Lord I tried my very best, I have made so many mistakes along the way, but in the end I loved people, and I tried really hard to love them as much as You love me.

If this earthly life is merely a preparation for our eternal life to come, good or bad, is there any point to our persistent writing at all? I say ‘yes’!

We are not here to please ourselves or to entertain ourselves. We are here to please God whether writing, singing, balancing the books, helping the sick, raising children, loving our spouse, weeding the garden … or anything else for that matter. Life is only as complicated as we make it. So let’s just do everything that we do each day, with love. For myself, I shall just do my very best to write with a strong conviction and belief, that God’s love is all that matters at the end of any day.

What do you think? Should the promise of monetary gain be the only motivator to do what we most love to do? Do we need approval if we know in our own hearts, what we are doing is heartfelt and worthwhile?

Originally published in “Christian Writers Downunder” as a guest blogger on 23rd May  2016. More recently on my Webnode Blog ‘Just Jo’Anne’ on 14th June 2016.

 

Glimpses of Light Anthology Blog Tour (stop 10) by Josephine-Anne Griffiths

The following post was written just under a year ago.

There was much excitement around the birthing of this book baby as for many of us, it would contain our very first published piece of art. I should also mention the stress and angst of the people who generously gave of their time to edit and publish this gorgeous anthology right down to the cover design. The cover photograph was generously provided by Helene Young (author).  Of course, you can still buy ‘Glimpses of Light’ through the links which follow below, and we hope you will.

gol

January 29th, 2016  My goodness, we only have three days left of January.  I remember thinking at the very beginning of this blog tour, which began prior to Christmas with Nola Passmore’s post, that I had oodles of time to write this.  How time flies! It wasn’t until I read this anthology myself and all these wonderful blog posts, that I really gained a better insight into the many meanings and interpretations of ‘light’. You could say ‘I saw the light’.light-bulb

Being the ‘International Year of Light’ 2015 was the perfect year to produce this beautiful collection of short stories, poems, flash fiction and creative non-fiction.

Today it is my turn to inspire you with my thoughts on the anthology as I take the baton from Adele Jones  who is a Queensland author who writes young adult and historical novels, poetry, inspirational non-fiction and other works of short fiction. In her spare time, Adele balances family responsibilities with her daytime job in the field of science.

My contribution to this anthology was a complete surprise to many, especially myself as it is my first published piece – ever.  When the call came out for applications for contributions, my initial thoughts were – I wish I could do something like that.  Well here we are many months down the track, after so much hard work by so many wonderful and talented people – it’s done.  There are so many ways to look at light – heavenly light, the light of the sun or the moon, electric light, even seeing things in a different light.

At the time of the call, I was working on parts of my brother’s fictional memoir. I tried very hard to take a scene from the memoir and turn it into a piece of flash fiction.  Once the editors saw it they knew that it really did belong to a much bigger story. In a quandary, and having not tried my hand at poetry before, I thought – okay here goes nothing. But in the end and thanks to our very patient editors, it became something.  My inspiration came from all of the emotions that bubbled up while I was trying to write about my beloved brother, Charlie.  My poem is based upon my own Grandfather, whose name my brother shared.  Yes finally the light was on, my words and emotions were flowing, and I just had to finish before the globe popped. Consequently, there were edits required, enough to give anyone a headache.  But it was so much fun. I enjoyed reading all of the stories, poems and words of hope and inspiration, and in particular, I really enjoyed Adele’s story Kaleidoscope. kkkAs a child, I enjoyed playing with one as I am sure many in my generation did.  Out of curiosity I actually read Adele’s story first. Why you ask?  It just seemed to me that a ‘kaleidoscope’ of works of art, was exactly what this anthology was.  Within my poem, I tried to represent the natural lights and hues of nature, the heavenly light that we can mostly only dream about, and of course when Charles finally ‘saw the light’ and realised what an important member of the family he was.

“He can no longer feel the wind’s chill,

As the door opens … Who will read the bedtime story, if I’m not here?

There are gardens to water, meals to help prepare, and stories to tell.”

I would humbly thank my Heavenly Father who helped me from that very first moment when I decided to apply;  also all of the contributors/authors, editors, proof-readers and artistry team. I also thank all of my family and friends who have believed in me and supported me along the way.  Whatever you do don’t miss this wonderful opportunity to purchase “Glimpses of Light Anthology” either as an eBook or print copy.   You can purchase from the following links:

Amazon.com   as a hard copy (US$12 plus postage) or as an eBook  (US$3.53) 

or through Amazon.com.au  eBook @ (AU$4.87)

You will be making so many people happy as well as inspiring yourself, as all profits are going to CBM Australia who work tirelessly with the poor and disabled in developing countries, restoring sight to the blind.

Lastly but certainly not least, keep an eye out for Robyn Campbell as she takes the baton from me next week on Monday, February 1st. daisy-in-the-sunRobyn is a children’s author and poet from the United States. Picture books are her greatest love, and she will be hoping to find a worthy home for them soon. Robyn lives on a mountain in North Carolina on a horse farm where she has plenty of story ideas to keep her creative cauldron bubbling for quite some time.

Is It All Just Too Difficult?

The following post was written just over a year ago.

At the time I didn’t have a clear enough vision for my book baby. After many drafts and redrafts, I finally got that ‘vision’ … how would Charlie have wanted me to tell this story? Does that matter? Yes, I think it does! That flashing lightbulb went off for me just prior to National Novel Writing Month this year. During the first half of November, I wrote a fresh 11,000 words of “Charlie Dreams”.  Due to some family and health complications, I had to resign from ‘NaNoWriMo’ half-way through. However, I have those precious words safely tucked away on my flash drive. Twenty-seventeen is going to be a fabulous year. I cannot wait!

riverSeptember 3rd, 2015  A few weeks ago when I was kindly invited to write this blog post for Christian Writers Downunder, I knew exactly what I wanted to write about. I wanted to communicate something, which is usually why I write. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of point in keeping one’s thoughts too private; no one would ever really know me, be able to advise me or just have a quiet read and a chuckle to themselves and say “That’s Just Jo’Anne”.  

In an earlier post, I talked about why I found it necessary to blog when I could just jot down my thoughts into a journal and be done with it. Today I wish to deviate a little from my intended topic. I wanted to cover the ‘pros and cons of Life Writing’ but that may or may not eventuate down the track. You see, after doing lots of research (as I haven’t yet done a course on Life Writing); I began to realise what an extensive topic it was.

I then realised that some very important questions would need to be answered. 

  • Will the contents of this story hurt any family or friends of my main character, and sub-characters who are  still living and compos mentis?
  • What sort of an impact would my story have upon people whether or not they know me or my family?
  • Is my story relevant to the focus of my blog/genre?
  • Does it matter?
  • Can my story hurt my own reputation in any way?
  • Would I ever regret writing this book?

These are just a few of many questions which should be considered when writing about the life or lives of others; and indeed even if I was merely writing an autobiography, shouldn’t I consider how my thoughts and feelings would affect others.  hold-the-penTrue, partially true or complete fabrications, we as writers must take responsibility for the hearts and minds of our readers as well as our own.

So today instead of the ‘pros and cons’, let’s just look into ‘Why’?  I have already been down the path of ‘What If’?  There were so many questions building up in my mind that I had to give it a rest.  You see I have never done life writing before!  I cannot believe I just completely admitted that to you all; but it is the plain, honest truth.  Life writing can be somewhat scary and confronting at the best of times, but in my case, my very first piece of what is supposed to be biographical is going to look and read like a novel of fiction. 

I struggled with what name or label to give the genre for this book. Would it be a memoir?  Perhaps not.  How about a fictional memoir?  Maybe narrative non-fiction?  No that can’t be it, even ‘narrative’ non-fiction must have more factual content than not.  Perhaps this life story doesn’t fit within the mould of any known genre.  The real problem is that my main character, although very much a real person, didn’t live what we would consider a real life …. at least not a realistic life by most worldly standards.

Here follows a short synopsis of my work.

“Charlie Dreams” 

Charlie was an odd wee fellow, always with his head in the clouds. He would be day-dreaming or telling tall tales, which often lead him into all sorts of trouble. Charlie had a vivid imagination and because we spent so much time together, he nurtured my imagination with ease. You see Charlie was not only my brother, he was my best friend, my soul-mate.

After a short, often sad but sometimes happy life, Charlie passed away at the tender age of thirty-nine. I was just thirty-six year’s old, way too young to lose my best friend. Charlie’s parents who are still living at the time of writing this played a huge role in shaping both our lives and the passages which will appear in my book. Our grandfather, also named Charles plays an important role in piecing together our story.

Charlie suffered from Bipolar disorder, but sadly we weren’t aware of this until after his tragic death. He played his cards very close to his chest so that the people closest to him couldn’t see in. I am also Bipolar, however, my family is more than aware of the fact. I have fabulous support from family and dear friends, and it is these wonderful people who encourage and inspire me to tell our story. My only regret is that we were not able to see through Charlie’s dreams and look more closely at the true heart and soul of the matter.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

quoteSo why do I feel compelled to write this book?  My answer – why not?

Charlie really did have an interesting if sad life. There were many moments of happiness, whether they were real or imagined doesn’t matter too much. His life was a good life. He was a kind soul with an extremely gentle heart. Everything Charlie told you was exactly as he believed it to be himself.

While life writing of any kind can be extremely challenging, I have made my mind up to continue with this challenge, with its risks and plethora of things that could go wrong. I want to honour someone with compassion, praise, respect, unfathomable love, honesty (as far as possible) and great big dollops of humour along the way.

straw-hatThis person is my best buddy, Charlie.

What do you think? Should fiction be a part of a life story? Does it really have any place there?  What if the person we are writing about was unable to decipher fact from fiction, believed everything he said; but beyond all of that was satisfied that he was living the life he had always wanted (dreamt about).

I would love to hear your opinions and kind advice. Please feel free to leave a comment below.

Originally published in Christian Writers Downunder Blog

Promises, Anticipation, Enjoyment

pooh-1“Well,” said Pooh, “what I like best –” and then he had to stop and think. Because although Eating Honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn’t know what it was called.” ~ Winnie the Pooh

*¨*•♫♪¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪¸¸.•*¨*•♫

Ah, don’t you just love the anticipation? pooh-2Isn’t it just the best thing? Oh, but the enjoyment of actually doing it! Then, alas it is over …. Oh, but the memory is worth its weight in gold …. err honey. 

When we take a look at those three words, promises, anticipation and enjoyment, we would think that they mean very different and separate things. If we limit ourselves to the dictionary meaning for each of those words, we would be correct.

promise is an assurance, a guarantee, a pledge or a vow, that something will be so; or something will happen, either immediately or eventually.

To anticipate something is to be expectant of that thing, person, occasion, gift etc. Also to have hope that something wonderful is going to happen, based upon past experiences.

pooh-3Enjoyment is the actual pleasure, delight, satisfaction or gratification that we derive from whatever it is that we have obtained.

If we look more closely at each of these words, we would realise that they are intimately conjoined. 

Even Winnie-the-Pooh knew from past experience that there was something more to eating that honey, than just the sheer enjoyment of it all …. And of course he was a bear of very little brain. Sometimes I think that maybe we aren’t much more ‘cleverer’ than dear old Winnie. We probably know the word to match the feeling, but we don’t always appreciate that feeling for how wonderful it is. I know I often forget to stop, listen and feel – how about you?

cruise-shipBack in 2008, I went on a cruise. HoneyBun and I flew to Bangkok, stayed a week, and then took a 21-night cruise back to Sydney via South East Asia. We spent months planning and talking about our upcoming holiday, imagining what it would be like (I had never been on a cruise before). We had both travelled before, HoneyBun more than me, however, each experience is different. We were so excited!  I remember being about one week out of Australia on our return trip home. I became impatient to be back home, not because I wasn’t having a good time, but because once more I was anticipating something. This time my anticipation was backed up by a promise that something good would happen – I loved going back home. ‘There is no place quite like home’.  HoneyBun and I had thoroughly enjoyed our trip; the feelings of satisfaction and gratification were immeasurable. Yes, when we arrived back home there was also the feeling of “oh, it is all over now”; but those precious memories would remain forever.

1474151094I have done some travelling in my life; seeing places such as Hong Kong, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Great Barrier Reef, Islands of the South Pacific – the list goes on. Then there was Bali, Los Angeles and Egypt.  I really do feel blessed; however if I had not anticipated each journey before going, I don’t believe the experience would have been quite the same. As human beings, we rely on our memories of past events to know whether or not something might be good or worthwhile. That pot of honey was pretty good judging by the amount of golden joy that was running down Winnie’s paws, and the remnants smeared all over his cute, furry face; but the day-dreamy look on his sweet face when he anticipated the enjoyment he would derive from that golden pot of heaven, is almost indescribable.  I feel that same way about a piece of lemon-cakelemon cheesecake, or maybe a slice of chocolate/raspberry torte, chocky-cakewith loads of cream. Oh, the expectation, the sheer delight and the afterglow of basking in the memory – mmmm, mmmm, mmmm!

We need promises, anticipation and enjoyment to be so closely related to fully appreciate the beauty of everything that is around us, provided for us, and even those things and events that we indeed work so hard for. I have always said that half of the fun is looking forward to something. Now as I approach more senior years, I believe that looking forward to something and then cherishing the memories, are usually most of the fun.

You can probably see where this is heading by now. I hope so because when I first started preparing this post I didn’t think it would lead to exactly where it has. The message I wanted to remind myself of and pass on was basically the same, perhaps with a little bit less cake.

Our lives here on earth are for us to enjoy, to make others happy, to work hard and provide the best we can. We won’t always be happy with everything that happens in life, but we need to make the best of everything. Our lives are filled with sadness and joy, pain and delight; life is one big rollercoaster. We are not meant to stay here on earth forever, we are actually citizens of heaven. We don’t know what that really entails, but we have been made a promise by God so that we can anticipate with joy and delight, the world that is yet to come. Our total enjoyment of our eternity is based on faith – faith that God is true to His Word, and of course, we know He is.

 dreamy-clouds“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”  ~ John 3:16

Patiently we must wait; but with joyful anticipation, that God’s promises to us will come to pass, and our joy will be everlasting, surpassing any form of human enjoyment that we could ever imagine.

hands-on-clock “The Lord is not slow to fulfil his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.”       ~ 2 Peter 3:9

Photo courtesy of LivingWithGod.org

 

Never my dear friends, take any moment or memory for granted – yes we know that there is something more beautiful coming and we must joyously anticipate; but every moment and every memory that we make here on earth will contribute to and richly embroider our everlasting lives in paradise. I wish us all a beautiful and glorious life of hopeful anticipation, laced with excitement for the enjoyment that has been promised to us. 
pooh-4Oh yes, and honey, cake, and whatever else our little human hearts desire.

Originally published on my Just Jo’Anne website/blog in August 2015