Recently, during a promotional visit to a bookstore in Melbourne, I received a wonderful surprise. A lady
However, when this lady met me recently, she told me they had now completed my fourth and fifth novels and were about to start on my memoir Soul Friend. As well, she also wanted to purchase my latest novel The Inheritance, with a view to recording it. A few days later, she emailed to say she was forwarding the recordings of my fourth and fifth novels so I would have all my books they had produced so far.
But here is my dilemma. While I love having these copies, I have not as yet been able to bring myself to listen to any of them! I know they are professionally produced—the person who narrated them is a well known and very gifted actor from stage and screen here in Australia and has a beautiful speaking voice. But I am certain that, because these were my first novels, I would want to change so much of what I would hear, which would definitely dampen my enjoyment of the whole experience. I imagine it is a little like artists might feel when viewing their early efforts at painting. Surely their fingers must itch to alter or touch up this or that!
Perhaps the best way to approach it all is for me to listen to those recordings with an accepting heart and mind, acknowledge the stylistic changes I would now make, and simply be thankful for how far I have come since those earlier writing efforts. We all learn as we go and we all have to begin somewhere. And, stylistic issues aside, the stories they contain still touch readers, I have discovered, who are often not as critical as those of us who write! Then again ... is it better not to listen and instead to keep moving forward, writing the best I can at this point?
What would you decide in this instance? Would you listen or not?
All questions aside, I am honoured and grateful that those recordings have been made—especially my third novel Laura, which is the story of a girl who becomes blind as a child. I love the idea that those for whom most books are inaccessible can choose to hear my books, if they so desire. God has ways of blessing us far beyond what we could ever imagine, don’t you agree?
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.