sunset small

View of the Dam from the Retreat Centre

I thought writing was my dream. I was wrong. After spending about 5 years writing two novels and a children’s book, sending e mails to hundreds of agents and publishers, giving the books to friends to read, even I had to realize that I was not a writer. At least not a fiction writer.

Sure I can write sermons.   At a retreat about 13 years ago Rowan Rogers talked about unopened treasures packed away in boxes right beside us. An image came into my mind of a pair of golden lips and a golden pen.   As a result I became a Local Preacher in the Methodist Church where I was inducted in 2006 after two years of studying and practice.

My childrens book, “The Saddest Little Sugar Bowl in the World” was written particularly for children who were somehow “different”. I got a better response for that one but still nobody wanted to publish it. Finally I published 50 copies myself and then went from bookshop to bookshop trying to get somebody to sell them for me. I sold some at work but still have 20 copies left, lying abandoned in a pile.

It was like I had a tiny dragon in my hand who could breathe the fire of a message. He had wings that could take the written word far and wide but after years of trying hard and repeated failure, his puff just got weaker and weaker. Finally his fire was no more than green smoke rings and then died out altogether.   Eventually he just gave up, folded his wings and went to sleep.   I put him in my pocket and forgot about him.

Why did I sign up for a workshop and retreat called  “My Story for His Glory”?   I am not quite sure but it became increasingly obvious that my God wanted me there. Run by Joan Campbell and Mandy Hackland (for the Ministry MAI) in the beautiful Good Shepherd Retreat Centre overlooking Hartebeestpoort Dam, it was exactly what it promised, both a workshop and a retreat.


In the first session we learned the seven Writing Keys for Christian writers:

  • Relationship with God.   God gives us writing.
  • Just write.
  • Honesty.
  • Pay attention – to life.
  • Carry a notebook.
  • Have fun.
  • Courage.
  • Nurture yourself.

After lunch we split into two groups, devotional writing and fiction. Because I felt such a failure at fiction, I attended that stream. We learned tools and techniques. We had to write a voice journal, where you just give your character a voice, as if he/she is speaking, perhaps being interviewed. At one stage I was in tears because of my character’s passion. I thought to myself, “Maybe I can do this!”

Later we covered vital ingredients in fiction.

  • Conflict leading to a great plot.
  • A riveting start.
  • Show, don’t tell. (Something I think I have been particularly bad at.)
  • Crisp dialogue.
  • Passion and perseverance.


On Sunday the retreat aspect of the weekend was highlighted. The reading I chose for my quiet time was John 21. “Throw your net on the right side of the boat.”   In other words, do things differently.   At my feet I noticed the most unusual stick I have ever seen.   It ended in a spiral.Spiral Stick small

In our worship service, Mandy spoke about a golden pen. I knew it was a confirmation of my previous calling. I realized that writing wasn’t my dream. It was my ministry. God called me to write. I was anointed with everybody else to write for the Lord.

So, in a way, the weekend woke my dragon and rekindled his fire – only, it isn’t my dragon. It belongs to God. The gift is His and He will send it where He wants to use it.

What next? I don’t know. Do I rewrite my fiction novels? Write and publish more children’s books? Write a blog? Write devotions?

Only God can lead me and that will be one baby step at a time. Writing this post is one little step. I will get a notebook. I will write 5 lines a week. The rest is up to the Dragon Master.

Jenny Young smallJenny Young is  a wife, mother and proud grandmother. She works at Rand Park High School, doing science and biology experiments. Once a week she runs the 1st Waverley Guide Company which she says keeps her young. She belongs to Rosebank Union Church and is part of the “Write On!” group.  Her other passion is the Alpha Course. Jenny’s book  “The Saddest Little Sugar Bowl in the World” is currently available as a free download in eBook version.

Read Val Michelsen’s Account of the Workshop