ACW

ACW

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

The Great Escape by Mandy Baker Johnson

Did you know that a group of writers is called a worship? That's what was happening at Scargill House last weekend. A bunch of people worshiping.

Many of us have become friends online and it was good to meet for the first time 'in the flesh' or catch up with real rather than virtual hugs.

Adrian and Bridget Plass were our hosts along with Tony Collins, standing in for his wife Pen Wilcock who was at home because of family commitments.

The theme of the weekend was the great escape. Bridget began on Friday evening by reminding us of our favourite children's stories when we were small. Where did we escape to? I was immediately transported to a small, hidden island on a lake with friends Mike, Jack, Peggy and Nora, some hens and a cow.

Adrian shared that writing fiction is a form of playing. As children, we lived in our imaginary worlds as cowboys or horses or children having adventures while drinking lashings of ginger beer, without worrying about who was watching.

We need to recapture that playfulness as writers. Play with words, have fun, don't worry about who may be watching. When we can do that, we find freedom in our writing.

Tony based his talk on Romans 12:2, encouraging us not to confirm to the world but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds so that we can know God's good, acceptable and perfect will.

Good fiction affects how the reader sees the world. The imagination is a powerful tool. Apologetics and precepts are for the mind, but stories reach the heart.

Fiction creates an alternative reality for the reader. We get to live the lives of the characters for a while. For me, whenever I read John Grisham's books, I can think of nothing better than to work eighteen hours a day as a lawyer. In real life, I find law boring and I'd hate to be a workaholic. But Grisham grips my imagination so powerfully, that for a while I enjoy sharing the life of his characters.

Tony encouraged us to try contradicting stereotypes in our writing. Fatty, AKA Frederick Algernon Trotteville, from Enid Blyton's Five Find-Outers and Dog sprang to mind, when he said that. An overweight boy with an excessive amount of pocket money and indulgent parents, we make certain assumptions. But actually Enid Blyton makes him an intelligent and generous leader with oodles of common sense.

Whatever we spend our time doing, we become. What we spend our time reading, we become like. Our role as writers and followers of Jesus is to offer wholesome fiction that feeds our readers.

Both Adrian and Tony gave us a challenge. Maybe you'd like to have a go at one or both yourself.

Adrian's challenge: in 300 words, play with words and have fun. Don't worry about who's watching.

Tony's challenge: in 300 words, write about a journey. Why did you set out? Where did you think you were going? What happened on the way? Where did you arrive? What impact did it have? Would you do it again and why?



Mandy Baker Johnson is a self-employed medical secretary and freelance writer. She enjoys blogging and has recently co-authored a book Drawn from Words. She volunteers with a Christian charity working with women in the sex industry.

21 comments:

  1. Wonderful, inspiring weekend full of friends and fun and fiction and cheesecake. I've just opened my laptop to do some writing - what an excellent way to get into the zone again. Thanks for the reminder, Mandy. x

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    1. Yay! Glad you're getting a little writing time in :) x

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  2. You have captured the weekend perfectly. I had a smashing time playing with words

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  3. Wonderful - and you have a great memory or are a great note-taker! You've captured it all. Even got theBible verse in there. And about playing - which is important in all the creative arts. Thanks so much for getting it all down and into a blog so quickly. The others, (the ACW's who weren't there) of course, will be jealous!

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  4. Well done, Mandy. Your post is direct and to the point, well-organised and without any possibility of losing the reader or the plot. And as others have commented you managed it without delay!:-D

    It was lovely to meet you. Sue

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    1. Thank you so much for your encouraging comments Sue. It was lovely to meet you too xx

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  5. Brilliant Mandy! You (apparently effortlessly) captured the most important points shared by the speakers. And brought back the joy of the weekend for me. Thank you!

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    1. Thanks Deborah. It was a great weekend, truly enjoyed it x

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  7. Thank you Mandy for covering the weekend so clearly. It was all a bit of a jumble in my mind but now I can remember it all. Hope to see you next June!

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  8. Thanks Shirley. Writing this post ensured I actually went over my notes rather than just taking them down at the time and then never looking at them again! Which is what I usually do.
    It was great to meet you at the weekend, and I really loved your piece about the mishap on the escalator. You should make it into a short story... :) x

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  9. I agree with Shirley - it was all a muddle in my head of different impressions and you tidied it up!

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  10. Not bootlicking, honest! But I have to join the chorus - a superb summary - I'd totally forgotten what verse Tony based his talk on (and even the fact that he did)!

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  11. "Whatever we spend our time doing, we become. What we spend our time reading, we become like. Our role as writers and followers of Jesus is to offer wholesome fiction that feeds our readers."
    Wonderful and thought provoking. Sorry I missed this weekend this year. Maybe next year...

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    1. Glad you found my notes helpful Trevor. Hopefully see you next year!

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  12. I'm sorry I couldn't be there too! Sounds amazing. But hoping to be at the next one.

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