What I’m into in October

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Some of the other (big) bloggers join each other in a synchronous monthly post where they share the things that they have been enjoying each month. So I thought I’d try it out and wondered if I could get any friends to join me in the comments or on their own blogs. I’d love that.

I’m also linking up with Leigh Kramer, “What I’m Into” and there’s a button at the bottom of the post that will take you to her blog.

What are you reading/doing/eating/baking/watching/listening to right now??

On the internet

I wrote some posts for my Crafty Parent blog at the start of half term. It’s a little space that has been sitting there empty for quite sometime whilst my camera has been filling up with pictures of craft projects just waiting to be written up. The most viewed post there has been the autumn crown made out of a paper plate.

I did a fair amount of reading online this month in terms of blog posts and articles. When is there ever a shortage of anything good to read? You may be interested in:

The amazing story of a WW2 patchwork quilt.

Sarah Silverman talking about her experiences of depression.

David Gushee asking why Christians are spending so much time writing about sex when there are other issues out there too.

Rick Warren, 6 ways God blesses a broken heart.

When it feels like God is asking the impossible of you … A guest post by Vaneetha Rendall on Ann Voskamps’s website.

Sorting out the Bible: how Jesus changed the way I read scripture, by Sarah Bessey.

and Jen Hatmaker, “We’ve been imprisoned for so long we can’t even recognise what an open door looks like.”

From the bookshelf

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I loved reading Laline Paull’s ‘novel’ novel, The Bees, (currently only £1.99 on Kindle) the tale of an unusually talented (mutated?) worker bee who manages to subvert the hierarchy of the hive and escape the slave caste she is born into. This is not the kind of book I’d usually read and I was a little troubled by the odd mix of whimsy with sheer horror; one moment you seem to be reading a work of teenage fiction the next something that could have ended up on a banned book list. However, there are some well crafted descriptions of the working of the hive and you have to admire Paull’s clear mastery of the science of these incredible cretaures.

I am also fortunately lucky enough and British enough to have a copy of the new Sarah Bessey book, Out of Sorts, a little before it is launch in North America. I stayed up late reading this one, moving quickly between loud assent (you may have heard me shouting, “Amen!”) and free flowing tears. Those of you who are fans of Bessey’s blog writing may miss her usual lyricism but the book has more content, and she unpacks some tricky stuff about evolving faith, using a number of poignant poetic images and personal stories to illuminate the case. A must read for all faith shifters and truth seekers.

And finally, at bedtime, when the house goes quiet and all the chores are done I’m tucking myself up with some Dickens. This time I’m reading Martin Chuzzlewit and learning from the master of story telling and character writing in preparation for doing my own work on the plot and people who are to appear in my own emergent novel about medieval Dunwich.

Crafting

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I’m managing a little sewing or knitting most days at the moment and have various projects on the go. I’m putting the borders on the hexagonal quilt for Lucy (eight years in the making!) and knitting up a little shawl from a Ravelry pattern called Hitchhiker. I’ve also been working on a fox-face mitten pattern of my own design but its along time in the making and probably won’t be ready for sharing before the cold weather comes this year.

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At home

Peter went back to the States in Septmeber and in October we drove Jonathan to Durham where he is starting a degree course in theology. I am fascinated by life with two children and still adjusting to the change: the fridge is always full, the shopping bill has halved and the laundry basket is often empty. Now I understand why the past twenty years have been such hard work!

And Jonathan had hardly got his bags and boxes into the back of the car before Lucy had cleared out his room and moved herself in. So we have a lot of decorating and reordering in progress here.

What have you been up to in October?

What I'm Into
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Stand again

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I’m totally at ease with the fact that since I gave up one of my day jobs to write more, I haven’t done the writing I planned to do. Very few posts to the blog, nothing for the book of Sad and slow progress with the novel.

It’s teaching me things that I needed to know for sure. And by sure I mean not just in my head, acknowledged as good advice. I mean actually put into practice over again until they are made real.

I heard Anne Lamott* speak a couple of years ago, in a tent, at a festival. All of us would-be-writers sat on the grass, pens poised, notebooks balanced on our knees, waiting for her to share the magic formula that would transform would-be-writers into real writers as easy as the turning of a page.

But apparently the magic formula is this: if you want to be a writer you must write. Sigh.

“But how?” my students ask. “How do you actually do it?”
You sit down, I say. You try to sit down at approximately the same time every day. This is how you train your unconscious to kick in for you creatively. So you sit down at, say, nine every morning, or ten every night. You put a piece of paper in the typewriter, or you turn on the computer and bring up the right file, and then you stare at it for an hour or so. You begin rocking, just a little at first, and then like a huge autistic child. You look at the ceiling, and over at the clock, yawn, and stare at the paper again. Then, with your fingers poised on the keyboard, you squint at an image that is forming in your mind — a scene, a locale, a character, whatever — and you try to quiet your mind so you can hear what that landscape or character has to say above the other voices in your mind.”
Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

This is a terrible truth. The answer to the problem of not being able to write is: write!

That book you have inside you is not going to write itself when the study gets painted, when the kids leave home or when you retire from work. If you don’t discipline yourself to writing now you won’t be able to discipline yourself to writing in an imaginary future when all the obstacles have disappeared.

The even more terrible truth is that what Lamott says about writing is probably true about life and faith too! That ‘life’ you’re planning to live for God, the one that isn’t working out too well right now – it’s going to happen in the busy mess of today or else it will never happen at all.

The things you know in your head about living it right, acknowledged many times in sermons and readings and from the mouth of friends, they’re not real for you in any significant way, until you’ve practiced them over and over again.

Today I’m thinking that this is why Paul In Ephesians 6 tells us to stand, to stand and stand again.

Therefore put on the full armour of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place…
Ephesians 6.13-14

Stand, stand again and then stand again. It’s a version of Lamott’s instruction to us writers to sit down at your desk, to sit down, and then to sit down again. And let’s face it, there are things that are more important than getting that book written, like finding peace, feeling loved, having purpose, finding breakthrough and overcoming problems with health, finance and in relationships. I’m being purposefully vague in the hope I’ve included your current struggles somewhere on the list.

This is when it really matters.

And what is more, there’s a little faith stirring somewhere between what I have read, what I have written and what I sense. It tells me that it won’t feel like hard work forever, that once you’ve stood, and stood again, then stood again, you will know something firmer and more secure, the ground of God firm beneath your feet.

Stand, stand again and then stand again.

*If you aren’t familiar with Anne Lamott she writes intuitively about writing and authentically (irreverently!) about faith. Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, is great on writing and Stitches, is great on faith.