At another stage, I worked as an editor for an organisation that supported Christian schools across Australia. I related to around eight other employees on a regular basis to produce classroom material and a small magazine for parents and students. While this was a Christian environment, I found we were often a little removed from one another and even at times a little critical of our co-workers. I remember I instituted something called ‘Jo’s Little Black Book’, in which I jokingly wrote anything that should not be repeated, then threatened to read it out at our Christmas staff celebration—although only funny rather than hurtful things were included. To my amazement, that talking behind others’ backs lessened considerably as a result!At two different stages, I worked in a local church. While relationships were regarded as important there and time was put aside for team meetings and for sharing what was happening in our roles, we still made mistakes. Misunderstandings occurred and different personalities clashed at times, but we all learnt so much in the process. And eventually, God in his grace guided some to stay and some to move on.
And now, here I am in the much more lone role of writer and speaker—although perhaps ‘lone’ is not the correct word to use. True, no one else is going to write our stories for us and we do usually need to be alone to write them. Yet for novelists in particular, in one sense we can never be lonely, with all that conversation going on between those characters inside our heads, as Dirk Bogarde one pointed out! Nevertheless, I have found it so encouraging to have that contact with other authors from time to time, either face to face or via the net through groups such as ICFW. We speak the same language. We understand the issues involved in writing and publishing and promotion. We want to see others succeed and be fulfilled in their writing. We rejoice as God is honoured through one another's books.And that’s why this very day, I will be busy selling my books, in cooperation with around a dozen other local Christian authors here in Sydney, at a book market one of us has organised in a nearby church hall. We have each agreed to promote this event as much as possible through our own networks. And we will all be there, cheering one another on, as books are sold. Yet, whether those crowds appear or not, I know this will be a precious time of sharing together, of hearing one another’s journeys and of supporting one another as best we can.
Writers supporting other writers. What a lovely thing—and what a privilege!
Jo-Anne Berthelsen lives in Sydney but grew up in Brisbane. She holds degrees in Arts and Theology and has worked as a high school teacher, editor and secretary, as well as in local church ministry. Jo-Anne is passionate about touching hearts and lives through both the written and spoken word. She is the author of six published novels and one non-fiction work, Soul Friend: the story of a shared spiritual journey. Jo-Anne is married to a retired minister and has three grown-up children and three grandchildren. For more information, please visit www.jo-anneberthelsen.com or www.soulfriend.com.au.