Big or Small, Make the Most of it All

Big or Small, Make the Most of it All

Big or Small, Make the Most of it All.

The email lands in my inbox filled with punchy phrases designed to provoke and spread excitement about the next big conference in a major US city. It’s only a plane flight away but that’s a fanciful flight too far for my budget.

I press delete.

The state or national writers centre informs me of upcoming events. All very interesting. But the scheduled times clash with other commitments. There is a webinar but that’s not the same as being there …


Incoming: A reminder about the early bird discount period for the Omega Writers Conference …

If only …

I spend several days organising, if not holding, a personal pity party as obstacles that will preclude my attending pile up: The timing’s all wrong because it clashes with the crucial final countdown for our year twelve students and, for their sake, I need to be here more than I need to be there. The accommodation costs are too great a challenge to the budget bottom line, especially given my current mobility issues … (sadly, a tent in a camping ground is not an option.)

I know how valuable that conference will be. Heck, the main speaker is a Mystery/Thriller guru and I’d love to soak in all that experience-based wisdom. Sigh.

Instead, I pray blessings and safety for those who can make it and hope to hear more of their experiences down the track.

We’ve all been there, longing to gather with like-minded souls, fellow creatives who understand the word-driven psyche. We desperately want to participate, contribute, and make the most of any, and all, opportunities to connect, learn, promote, celebrate, and, er, commiserate. Let’s face it—there’s a unique blessing that comes when chatting to someone who UNDERSTANDS. When I say to a fellow writer, ‘He says, “Just put it up as an ebook”,’ and her spontaneous laughter tells me she KNOWS there’s no ‘just’ about it. She KNOWS it’s not that simple.

To be fair, pre-pandemic, I enjoyed the enormous blessing of sharing these experiences and more at our Omega Writers Toowoomba Retreats. In terms of numbers, we’re not exactly huge. But in my calendar, it’s super significant. Each time, this gathering has been a wellspring of blessing and encouragement to me in my spiritual walk and my writing journey—even the year I sported a plaster cast over a broken wrist.

But if the truth be told, the reason this ‘small’ event is such an enormous blessing to me arises from a plethora of tiny moments when I’ve been able to interact with writer friends throughout the year:

  • birthday celebration dinners with fellow Quirky Quills
  • gluing thank you cards and assembling welcome packs with fellow event organiser, Janelle Moore
  • spending an afternoon cheering on fellow author, Jessica Kate, as she shared her experiences breaking into the US market
  • learning ‘How to Avoid Literary Speed Bumps’ at a workshop by fellow author, and editor, Nola Lorraine
  • the spontaneous encouragement of a monthly writers’ chat n share in Pamela’s cosy sunroom—especially when new-to-the-experience-but-longing-to-learn friends, (now no longer strangers), join in
  • or the crying-with-laughter emoji posted by a Facebook sympathiser that makes my day.

A hundred and one little moments and short experiences combine to create a gigantic collective fellowship of encouragement (with the odd nag to get on with the business of writing thrown in for good measure; oh yeah, we should do some of that.)

Whether we’re writing a six-word short story, a three line haiku, flash fiction, blog, devotion, self-help treatise, novella, memoir, novel, epic saga, or multi-book series, a few moments of mutual fellowship and encouragement can make a huge difference.

So next time you feel the disappointment at having to let a grand opportunity pass you by, settle your soul with an engaging moment …  post an emoji, phone a friend, grab a picnic lunch with a critique partner, post a star rating or book review on GoodReads or Amazon, or read or write an encouraging blog.

Above all, be comforted knowing that your little contribution to mutual interaction goes a very long way to make somebody’s day.

Maybe even your own.

Have you experienced, or imparted, a ‘blessed moment’ recently? Big, small, or minuscule, positive connections strengthen and inspire us all.

Never Underestimate

Never Underestimate

Never underestimate

As part of my Creative Writing studies, I completed numerous ‘Quick Writing’ exercises based on various verbal prompts and images. Here’s one of those prompts and my response to it:

Every day of the week, between 7:00 am and 8:00 am, Vince and Jack arrived at the park bench with their newspapers. Every day they grunted a greeting, sat, and read. Every day, between 8:00 am and 9:00 am, as one finished reading his newspaper, he would fold it, tuck it under his arm, stand, mumble a farewell and leave.

Sometimes Jack left first. Sometimes Vince left first.

Jack didn’t know Vince was an inventor whose ingenious creations languished for want of entrepreneurial investment. Vince didn’t know Jack was a lonely millionaire who intended to bequeath his millions to an animal shelter because he had no family and no friends.

Vince could have become like a brother to Jack. Jack could have enabled millions of people to benefit from Vince’s inventions.

Could have, should have, would have …


All because of the one thing they did share: a failure to communicate.

Never underestimate the value of a good discussion.

I sat down intending to write this blog on a totally unrelated topic (to do with ‘the individuality of your voice’) when the memory of this particular writing exercise sat down beside me, tapped my heart, then rapped me over the head like a rolled-up newspaper and insisted I use it instead.

So, I suspect that, for whatever reason, someone out there needs another kind of prompt: my gentle encouragement to connect.

Perhaps there is someone you’ve wanted to chat to for ages and, for whatever reason, you haven’t managed it yet. Why wait? Pick up the phone and call them. Better still, invite them to join you for coffee, or a walk in the park.

Perhaps you need encouragement to connect with like-minded people, or, say, to attend a writers’ conference. That can be a great place for good discussions. Or perhaps there is a letter you’ve been meaning to send, one that will break the ice so your writing/publishing/networking boat moves forward? Today might be the right day to put pen to paper, or fingers to the keyboard and make that connection. (Preaching to myself here!)

Perhaps you need encouragement to connect with someone who can help you in some other way. Honestly, I find it so difficult to ask for help. I’ve been more thoroughly inculcated with the message that it is ‘more blessed to give than to receive’ than the one that says, ‘ask and you will receive’. Perhaps that underscored the problem I created for Jack and Vince in a moment of quick writing madness back in 2012.

Back then, I needed encouragement to find and join a writing critique group. Back then, someone I had never met in person invited me to come along and join in regular discussions about writing. And back then … I did it. I went to meet five strangers … and received five wonderful friends. I’ll never underestimate the value of creative, fun-filled shenanigans again!

Image by Nattanan Kanchanaprat from Pixabay

There is no doubt in my mind that discussing the pros and cons of my writing with other writers has helped me hone my craft and grow as a writer. Doing the same for them has … helped me hone my craft and grow as a writer! (‘More blessed to give than receive’ still rings true.) There is immense value in the mutual support offered by groups like Christian Writers Downunder. Being connected really does help.

I think I’ll finish this post with a ‘homework’ exercise our writing critique group tackled in April, 2014, one that I’d filed beside my story of Vince and Jack. Our prompt was, ‘What does your writing group mean to you?’ Perhaps you could share your response to that question as a comment below. Here’s what I wrote:

Quirky Quills is

larger than individual idiosyncrasies

the sum of corporate wisdom

the strength of forged metal alloys

the flexibility of seasoned allies


a cohesive, healing ecclesia

a hug for brain and heart

a canvas prepared for inspiration

brushes dipped in holy ink


a catalyst for action

a treasure-trove of friendship

a creative, vocal ensemble with

an infinite, lyrical repertoire


and the heartbeat of my social redemption.

Quirky Quills (Nola, Janelle, Sandra, Mazzy, Kirsten, Adele) celebrating the launch of Nola Lorraine’s debut novel, Scattered.

So … why not try to make that new connection?

PS: If you happen to connect with a millionaire called Jack who has money to bequeath struggling authors, please, by all means, feel free to introduce us. smile


Blog and comments first posted on Christian Writers Downunder September 2016.