But one of the more surprising aspects of my writing journey has been the opportunities to reach out to others in ways I would never have envisaged. I had always felt a little awkward inviting my neighbours to church events, in some cases because I knew they would be very opposed to the idea and in others because of their busy lifestyles. However, I found they were very happy to accept my first novel to read at their leisure – especially when offered as a gift! Since then, some have accepted further novels, with one neighbour who walked away from the church years ago eventually buying three copies to send to relatives in New Zealand!
Another unexpected blessing from my novels has been the opportunity to speak at secular groups such as the Seniors’ Clubs that meet in major shopping centres here in Sydney. God is there anyway, whatever the group – my task is to tune in to how God wants me to speak at each meeting and to ‘seize the moment’ in a gentle, sensitive way. I give a far different talk than in a church setting, but I still manage to mention God quite a few times! And I feel very privileged when people come and buy my books afterwards. I always pray they will be drawn closer to God as they read and also that they will lend the book to family and friends.
But perhaps the most exciting avenue that has opened up is my becoming part of the ‘Living Library’ program run by a nearby public library. With a Living Library, people from the community borrow out people instead of books for half an hour or so! They read our ‘catalogue card’ to see which ‘book’ they would like to peruse and then we proceed to talk. In this context, I have had the privilege of engaging with all sorts of people, not only about writing novels and getting published, as my catalogue card advertises, but also what my books are about and how I came to begin writing. So the door is open to share a little at least about the things of God, hopefully in a natural, sensitive way. Recently too, I participated in a similar ‘one off’ event at a university here in Sydney. During their ‘Diversity Week’, I found myself seated in a large tent in the main courtyard behind a desk on which my ‘catalogue card’ was displayed. High school students visiting the campus, as well as uni students and staff, then ‘browsed’, with some interesting people sitting down to talk to me over the few hours I was there. What a privilege and opportunity from God!
How about you? Have you had similar adventures with God as you share your books and writing journey with others? I’d love to hear about them – it might encourage me to do the same ‘Down Under’ here in Sydney!