Did you know that if you boil a mouse, its skin falls off and you can reconstruct the bones?
No? Me neither. And like me, you probably could have gone your entire life without knowing that morbid piece of information, but I bet you never forget it – just like I won’t forget the very memorable and inspiring workshop on writing that award-winning author Joyce Magnin gave at a meeting of Lancaster Christian Writers this past Saturday (May 19, 2012).
The ‘mouse’ tidbit came up while discussing quirky and eccentric characters. The inspiration for Joyce’s off-beat characters stems from her own quirky personality and her mother, who was a special woman and who encouraged Joyce, even if that meant allowing her to experiment on a dead mouse. I don’t know about you, but if my mother had discovered I’d boiled a dead mouse in one of her pans on the stove, she would not have been calm, cool and collected about it! But Joyce’s mother was, and in the process, helped Joyce grow to be confident and true to herself.
Listening to Joyce was a real treat! I laughed a lot and learned a lot about what God has to do with our writing, which was the theme of her workshop.
Highlights of Joyce’s presentation:
- The truth is we are children of God; we are beloved; we are sisters and brothers in Christ. We must embrace who we are in Christ first and foremost.
- Once we accept that God loved us so much He sent His son to die for us, we should also accept that God loves us and has given us a gift – writing. He wants us to use that gift.
- If God is in us, He’s in our writing. Don’t stress about conveying the message of salvation or teaching the gospels. God will lead the reader to the truth He wants them to find. To me, this was a huge weight lifted off my shoulders!
- Writers have an incredible responsibility to share the truth. Joyce suggested that writers are like pastors in between Sundays. During the week, we turn to books, magazines, blogs, articles, devotionals, television and movies for education, encouragement and inspiration. Writers have many opportunities to minister with their words.
- God gives us the ability to write, but it’s not enough to be born with it; we must practice and develop our writing skills. When success comes, and Joyce warns that success will come in God’s time and that we may have to wait, but when we succeed, we should remember not to turn our eyes from God, and instead remember to be humble and give God the glory.
- Once we’ve accepted the truth and developed our talent, we must then fine-tune our technique. It’s okay to want positive feedback on our creations and it’s beneficial to our talent and technique to hear constructive criticism. We grow as writers by reading, writing and critiquing.
So, what does God have to do with writing? The answer, in a word, is…everything!
Final encouraging words from Joyce –
- God created us for His story.
- We are a part of His narrative.
- We are all characters in His creation.