Marjean is a dear friend from my writers' group so I get to read her words often and receive great feedback from her on my work, too. I'm delighted to have Marjean participate in the Story Cures Interview and share her thoughts on reading, writing, creativity, and grace.
1. What's something you've read recently that has stayed with you?
The book of Revelation. Although it's mysterious and hard to understand in many places, the ending encourages and builds up the faith of those who are awaiting Christ’s second return—a remarkable end to a long, long story. When I’m tempted to despair about the state of the world today, I remember that God will wipe away every tear, that evil will be punished and destroyed, and that there shall be no more death, sorrow, pain, or crying. He promises to make all things new. I’ve reminded myself of these truths many times recently when overwhelmed or discouraged.
2. What's one of your favorite writing prompts?
Noticing. In a short tome called The Noticer by Andy Andrews, an elderly man named Jones has “the gift of noticing things others miss.” I think this must be true of every good writer. When you pay attention to detail, body language, spoken words, and simple actions by others, a story often evolves from what you notice.The second important part is to write immediately when inspired; if you wait, the story and the emotion is often lost.
3. Why do you think it's important for us to nurture our creativity?
Nurturing creativity is mutually encouraging—for the one who creates and the one who observes or benefits. The first name of God we learn in Genesis is “Elohim,” which means Creator. Since we are created in his image, we are creative beings. Whether it’s a work of art, a handwritten letter, a dance, or a beautifully set table, expressing our unique gifts and abilities is fulfilling and satisfying. Creativity beautifies our world and lightens our hearts—we’d be bereft without it.
4. Where have you noticed grace recently?
In my thought processes. I’m giving myself permission to appreciate the best I can be on any given day. Instead of berating myself for failing in some way, I’m speaking and thinking encouraging thoughts instead. The older I get, the more I’m frustrated by changes in my body, endurance, and ability. In extending grace to myself (like I do to others!), I’m acknowledging the limits while also accepting and praising the "new normal.” It’s totally changed my perspective.
5. What are your thoughts on any connections you notice between reading, writing, creativity, and/or grace?
As a writer, we’ve been told from the beginning of our journey that we must also be a reader. Reading from many different genres and authors broadens our understanding of the world and improves our craft. Tying in to answer #2, we become expert “noticers” and benefit from exposure to different styles and viewpoints. By reading other authors, I’ve found encouragement to continue my own writing journey. Sometimes I’m amazed at the ability of others and sometimes I’m motivated by the thought, “I could’ve written that!"
Marjean Brooks is a co-author of The Way of Grace by Glandion Carney, published by InterVarsity Press in 2014. She won "Writer of the Year" at the 2015 Write to Publish Conference in Wheaton, IL, for her work on this book.
Writing poetry, stories and articles on faith have been a lifelong pursuit for Marjean, who has published poems, devotionals, and articles in many publications. She has also written personal memoir pieces in a monthly column for a local newspaper and serves on the board of InSpero, an organization that seeks to inspire and encourage the creative community in Birmingham.
Throughout the last 25 years, Marjean has led hundreds of women in in-depth Bible study (mostly through Precept Ministries). God is using Marjean's teaching/writing skills and her life experience of following after the heart of God even while going through difficult circumstances. Walking through divorce, being a single mom to her three children while pursuing a teaching career, re-marrying and gaining three step-children, and caring for elderly parents are some of the means of grace that have brought insight. Through her writing, she hopes to impact a greater audience of weary travelers, bringing encouragement and hope by illuminating spiritual truth.
To read more of her writing, go to marjeanbrooks.com.