When I came back from the beach this morning, after a lovely and rain-sodden time, of prayer and thinking and some emails and a text message, and friends’ muddy dogs jumping up on me, and Percy getting stranded on a rock (again!), I was desperate to get at my radio play and just do a tiny tweak that had come to me as we walked through the dunes. Just a tweak. Teeny.
Two hours later a friend arrived, and I realised that the tweak had turned into all sorts of stuff, and I hadn’t towelled off the dogs, or fed them, or had a coffee. There was sand all over the sofa from my two shabby hounds, my jacket was on the floor where I’d shrugged it off, Percy’s lead where I’d dropped it, the blinds were still down…. It looked like the set of The Young Ones. The time had just slipped past, my head was full, my heart was pounding, and I was so excited! Not just excited by the writing, but by some emails that had pinged in about … oh, about all sorts of things. Transformation. A word that sent my brain spinning off into space. And I realised as I made coffee for my friend and finally fed the dogs, that I am the happiest of people some days. Some days it seems like there is no one in this world happier than me.
As we sat drinking the coffee and talking about feeling un-needed (a bit of a theme, I know!) another pal arrived, a gorgeous poet. His poetry is gorgeous and so is he. And do you know, for those moments I really really was, I was the happiest person on the planet earth. And I was desperate to get back to the Mac and think some more about transformation.
On fire, my little pikelets.
This last year I’ve learned so much. I’ve learned so much about God which is great, but I’ve also learned a whole lot about me. Which is a bit less great but still very exciting. And quite exhausting. Several years ago I walked into a church in West Wales and I heard something I was desperate hear and really didn’t want to hear at all. “We are called to live a holy life. Are you living a holy life?”
At that moment, the idea of even being able to live a holy life was terrifying and at the same time totally desirable. It was alien and impossible and yet it was being held out to me. At that moment, my little chums, my life was turned upside down and I stopped writing popular drama. Right there and then. Right blinkin’ there and then. There were projects on my Mac waiting to be pursued. We were about to film a 90 minute drama for the BBC, and we did do that. But I haven’t written another popular drama since that day.
I’ve played around with some ideas sent to me by producers, I kept telling my poor agent that I’d retired, and then I’d get another request and I’d play around with that one for a while, but I never once wrote another TV script. This last few years, as I struggled to understand what was happening in my creative life, have been difficult – no good pretending it’s all been beer and skittles. Income vanished, social life too, I’m no longer party to the spills and thrills of TV land, I’ve lost contact with most of my friends because TV drama is all consuming, 18 hours a day, 7 days a week and if you’re not part of that world you do get lost. And all that time I was trying to understand what was happening.
There’s a thing called writer’s block – it isn’t that. I still have a head full of stories and characters and nonsense (remind me sometime to tell you what I said to the Queen, and made her laugh) and I still write and write and write, but now none of it is for prime time TV. None of it.
That’s taken me some time to sort out but at last the penny’s dropped; Because God has taken away from me all the interest and desire and excitement involved in writing for millions of people, and replaced it with this wonderful and all consuming passion to write about Him for whoever will pause long enough to listen. I used to count my audience in millions, and now in these blogs I count it in tens. The tens God sends me here are the ones He wants me to speak to, and that’s fine by me. On TV I reached many millions, while on Radio we struggle to find one million. And that’s fine by me too.
I love writing now, with more passion and joy than when Soldier,Soldier and Peak Practice and Bramwell were hitting 18million week after week. My life is more meaningful now than when I earned a fortune. If I look at my blog stats and see that there have been twelve views that day, my heart soars, because it’s not about make-believe any more, it’s not about stories concocted in my wooly brain, it’s about truth. And the truth shall set you free.
The truth has set me free. The truth, Jesus, has set me free to find my voice. The last 30 years have been about gaining skill maybe, or confidence, or just to show me the difference between writing without God and writing with Him. I don’t know, but I do know that they were empty years and this is the real thing. They were years of need and longing. I can’t imagine what it’s like not to be a writer. Writing has always been a satisfying, even exciting thing, but writing about God, with God, wow, that’s something else. That is truly transforming. It’s brought a new depth to my writing, and it’s daily teaching me and changing me, and shaping what I think and say and write and do. Amazing.
I know my life looks small from the outside. I live in small house and drive a small car and live in a small town and I have a small income and no social life at all, but listen… my life is the Tardis. Small on the outside and huge, huge, cosmos-bogglingly HUGE on the inside. I have a lifetime of learning to get through and only a few years (maybe less) left to do it in. And that’s urgently exciting but also a bit of a bugger! Why didn’t I start earlier? Who can I blame? Let me find someone to blame….
Hang on. Rewind. What I meant to say is ‘Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.’
‘Through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault.’
Here’s the nub of what I want to say to you today. If you read these blogs regularly, you’ll know that some days I’m grouchy and whiney and bad… plain bad. Days when I don’t feel the surge of delight and the thrill of following Christ. I’ve had some bloody hard lessons over the last five years – and they’re still coming thick and fast (I’d quite like a tiny break from them) and sometimes I’m sure I’ll write a blog when I’m struggling…. but here’s the thing; every lesson learned (and forgotten and then learned again) draws me closer to that holy life held out to me 5 years ago. So, please forgive me – bear with me – if I write in the middle of some hard lesson, and you get the grumpy end of Luce.
Know that God is at work.
The state of my soul is my responsibility. I can choose His way or choose self. Up to me. Mea culpa. With all my faults, God loves me anyway. He’s given me Joy in such amazing abundance that I can hardly hold it in my heart and when I forget this eternal truth, that’s my problem, not His. Please never see my faults as some reflection on Him.
He’s given me writing, and He’s given me you, my little Bloggies and I am so grateful. For both. But most of all, and eternally, for Jesus.