An experiment in collaborative creativity

When I first started attending church, there was a little piece of theatre which took place each Sunday. At one minute before the service started the vestry door would open, and the preacher would emerge flanked on either side by the deacons who had been praying with him. It all added to the mystique of the preaching, and elevated the status of the preacher in the eyes of those who saw him emerge in such a dramatic fashion.

We have woven a mystique around writing too. An author is a person who closets him or herself away amidst a creatively chaotic pile of books and emerges later to general acclaim on publication day. Often authors contribute to the myth, treating the writing process as something which ought not to be seen before the moment of the ‘big reveal’. In some ways this is odd, since any author’s greatest desire is to share their ideas and creativity with a wider audience.

I am now embarking on the next stage of my fourth book Jonah: poet in extremis. In it I hope to rescue the story from the children’s Bibles to which it has been relegated, and to recapture its disturbing adult themes. To give you an idea of the kind of thing I mean, there is  short excerpt at the end of this post. Will you join me in these final stages of writing? As I squeeze writing and polishing the book in around the other demands of a busy pastorate I could really use your help. I was challenged by a sermon on Sunday about the need to look to each other for support when we need it most.

If you would like to be part of this, then sign up to follow @MrScrimshaw on Twitter. On that account I will be tweeting regular updates on how the writing is going, and those things for which I would value particular prayer. The account won’t be used for anything else, and I shan’t clog up your feed with unnecessary updates. How about it?

Before you turn to the excerpt you might like to know about the name of the group:scrimshaw. In the Eighteenth and Nineteenth centuries whaling trips could often take up to four years. To while away the long periods of inactivity, many whalemen learnt to carve scrimshaws out of whale teeth, like the one pictured below. These men, known as scrimshanders, were highly skilled – and learnt the secret of creating beauty out of ugliness, and fashioning something worthwhile out of monotony. My particular creative journey is set to take four months, rather than four years- but I hope to create something of worth along the way.

A vintage scrimshaw - Image:sailon2oceans

‘With just an animal shriek of blind terror, half torn away by the vicious wind,the prophet, or whatever he was, was gone.  The sea left no sign to mark his passing, just a clump of bubbles quickly swirled away.  At once the savage wind dropped away and the huge waves died back, as if embarrassed to look on such cowardly inhumanity.  A piece of torn rigging pattered, rather than slapped, on the shards of the mast.  The hull, relieved to have sustained the onslaught, creaked with each rise and fall of the now gentle waves.’