Waking the Dragon

Last month Jenny Young attended “My Story for His Glory,” a Christian writer My Story for his glory groupworkshop and retreat in South Africa. Led by fiction author and MAI trainer Joan Campbell and author Mandy Hackland, the week-end retreat was attended by 13 writers. They chose between two tracks: fiction and devotional writing. Jenny, who works in a secondary school science lab, questioned signing up for the workshop after years of doubting a call to write. Here are excerpts from her blog post, “Waking the Dragon,” following the retreat:

I thought writing was my dream. I was wrong. After spending about 5 years writing two novels and a children’s book, sending emails to hundreds of agents and publishers, giving the books to friends to read, even I had to realize that I was not a writer. At least not a fiction writer.

Jenny YoungIt was like I had a tiny dragon in my hand who could breathe the fire of a message. He had wings that could take the written word far and wide but after years of trying hard and repeated failure, his puff just got weaker and weaker. Finally his fire was no more than green smoke rings and then died out altogether. Eventually he just gave up, folded his wings and went to sleep. I put him in my pocket and forgot about him.

Why did I sign up for a workshop and retreat called  “My Story for His Glory”?   I am not quite sure but it became increasingly obvious that my God wanted me there.

After lunch we split into two groups, devotional writing and fiction. Because I felt such a failure at fiction, I attended that stream. We had to write a voice journal, where you just give your character a voice, as if he/she is speaking, perhaps being interviewed. At one stage I was in tears because of my character’s passion. I thought to myself, “Maybe I can do this!”

In our worship service…I realized that writing wasn’t my dream. It was my ministry. God called me to write. I was anointed with everybody else to write for the Lord.

So, in a way, the weekend woke my dragon and rekindled his fire—only, it isn’t my dragon. It belongs to God. The gift is His and He will send it where He wants to use it.

What next? I don’t know. Do I rewrite my fiction novels? Write and publish more children’s books? Write a blog? Write devotions?

Only God can lead me and that will be one baby step at a time. Writing this post is one little step. I will get a notebook. I will write 5 lines a week. The rest is up to the Dragon Master.

Saddest Little Sugar Bowl Jenny YoungJenny just launched a blog. Her book, The Saddest Little Sugar Bowl in the World, teaches children—particularly those who are ‘different’—the value of their individuality. She finally self-published it, making it available as a free download.

 

 

Workshop participant, Val Michelsen (84), has been inspired to carry on writing her autobiography. Read her account of the workshop.

Join us in praying for Jenny, Val and other South African writers as they follow God’s call. Pray also for trainers Joan and Mandy as they seek to encourage these writers.

“Thank you to MAI for nurturing and equipping writers in Africa,” Joan wrote us. Read “Courageous Voices,” Joan’s account of coordinating and leading this workshop.

 

Voices from South Africa

By Joan Campbell, MAI trainer joan-campbell

On the first evening of MAI’s South African “My Story for His Glory” Writing Workshop, May 16 & 17, the 13 participants read some of their writing. It was a celebration of words, creativity and individuality. I’d like to share two of these expressive South African voices.

Norma shared an emotive poem she wrote on the eve of Mandela’s funeral, and told us how it had come about.

my-story-for-his-glory-group“That week between his death and his funeral is one I’ll always remember. It was filled with tears and laughter, celebration and mourning, reminiscing and dreaming. As I went to bed on the eve of his memorial service, I was exhausted and yet unable to fall into a proper deep sleep… this poem came to mind. I jotted it down while underneath the covers, mind still fuzzy but heart speaking very lucidly.”

Waking Up at 3am to Make Sure I Get Into FNB Stadium

I am wading deep into the waters of mourning
Asking them to wash over me
To smooth the rough stones of my judgements and prejudices
Remove the grime in my heart so the injuries of injustice can heal
Nourish the seeds of hope for the South Africa of mine + Madiba’s dreams.
Fully immersed, moving away from the shallow end,
letting my hair get wet,
May no part of me be left uncleansed.

Another writer, Jenny, read us her poignant children’s book, The Saddest Little Sugar Bowl in the World. The sugar bowl looks around and wonders why she doesn’t have handles like the cups or why she isn’t as important as the teapot. It teaches children—particularly those that are ‘different’—the value of their individuality. Jenny struggled to find a publisher for this and her two other books. She finally self-published this delightful story, currently available as a free download.

I wish I had the space to share all the participants’ writing, but I hope that this small sample brings across the depth of talent and passion of Christian writers in South Africa. Thank you to MAI for nurturing and equipping writers in Africa.

Joan Campbell, a trainer for MAI, is a devotional writer for Scripture Union and The Upper Room, and the author of  Encounters: Life Changing Moments with Jesus, a collection of short stories, reflections and prayers.

Norma Y
norma-youngoung is a print and broadcast journalist. She’s worked for magazines and newspapers including Oprah magazine, City Press and Mail & Guardian.

 

 

jenny-youngJenny Young is a wife, mother and proud grandmother. She works in a secondary school laboratory, doing science and biology experiments, and runs a Girl Guide company (Girl Scout group).

Rewriting Is Rewarding

LawrenceBy Lawrence Darmani

It took me a long time to write the devotional article I had been assigned. When I submitted it, I was sure I had done my best, but my publishers pointed out several weaknesses and asked if I would rewrite it.

In my writing life, I’ve discovered several secrets about rewriting:
(1) Never think what I’ve written is without blemish or that it is so divine it cannot be improved;
(2) After every rewrite, my manuscript gets sharper, easier to read and communicates better;
(3) The process of rewriting teaches me patience, humility and consideration for the reader who deserves the best; and
(4) Every rewritten manuscript stands a better chance of getting published.

Reminding myself of these time-tested lessons, I lost no time in looking over my devotional article and making the revisions, taking into account the editor’s suggestions. When I saw the article in print, it was indeed a stronger devotional piece with a more solid message for the reader. Grateful to the editor for pointing out the weaknesses, I toughened myself for another opportunity when rewriting may become necessary.

Of course, to be asked to rewrite a manuscript is not altogether palatable. It wasn’t easy when God told Moses, “Chisel out two stone tablets like the first ones, and I will write on them the words that were on the first tablets, which you broke” (Exodus 34:1). Chiseling out two stone tablets must have taken days to accomplish, but Moses obeyed, knowing that unless what had been written before was rewritten, he would lose the precious Word of God for himself and for the people he had been called to lead.

The “rewriting” process for Moses gave him great privileges: “the Lord came down in the cloud and stood there with him” (v. 5); the Lord passed in front of him (v. 6); he learned great attributes of God (vs. 6-9); the Lord made a new covenant with him (v. 10) and he received great divine instructions for God’s people.

If rewriting does not appeal to you, remember God himself requires that this be done. If it is tough, remember Moses chiseled out stone tablets. Not only that: God asked him to do the rewriting himself. “Write down these words, for in accordance with these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel” (Exodus 34:22).

Those who detest rewriting risk having their manuscript rejected.

Thank you, Lord, for helping me to see the relevance of having to rewrite and hone my manuscripts. Take away every form of reluctance and laziness and help me to work hard at my manuscripts in order to better them. Amen.

Meet award-winning author Lawrence Darmani and take his workshops at 141124LittWorldPosLittWorld 2015. He is an entrepreneurial publisher, author and managing editor of Step Publishers in Ghana. Lawrence is also managing editor of Step and Surprise magazines for young people.

>Improve your rewriting. Register now for our free webinar on Tuesday, July 16, “Is Less More? The discipline of self-editing” with veteran editor Alice Crider of the US.