In praise of growing not-young

Today is a happy sort of day, and a slightly daunting one, and a very exciting one. Just over a year ago I had an idea for a TV series. And after a few weeks thinking and dithering, I sent the first document, really no more than the first vague suggestion, to two producers. Then came zooms and emails and meetings and a couple of lunches and great input from our new little team of three, and a lot of hope and a bit of pessimism, and when I’d done the words and structure the others created a fabulous selling document and then…. and then…. months of silence.

Today we have the commission.

It’s taken a year to get to the point where I could type, with some optimism that the thing would ever be made, ‘Scene 1. Ext Dockside. Day’

A year.

That’s good, eh? But there’s a way to go. If the commissioner likes this first script it will probably take another year to get all the episodes written (not all by me), and then a few months pre-production, a few months in production, a few months post production, and then some more waiting time while the TV company slots it into their schedule. So, stand by. You may just see something on your screens in about two years. Or three.

And the postman delivered a book today:

Collated and published by Miranda West, of the Do Book Company, it’s a dip-in-and-taste book, a collection of writings by people who have particular interests and talents and energies. There is all sorts of stuff in there, from the inspirational to the practical. There’s Buddhist teachings, and lifestyle wisdom, gardening and sustainability advice, life stories and … well, all sorts of inspirational stuff and in the middle of all that, there’s a couple of pages from me.

It’s on Amazon, it may be in your local bookshop, and you can find links on @dobookco and

Why am I telling you this`? After all, everyone who has contributed to the book is donating the royalties to charity, so even if you buy it, you aren’t putting butter on my bread.

I’m telling you because the arrival of this book, coinciding with a drama commission, has made me think about talent and creativity.

The book is a celebration of creativity and energy, everything from writing, or music making, or teaching, to whatever your creativity happens to be. It could be baking, carpentry, leadership, therapy, anything – my creative passion is for writing and on days like this I realise how writing has nurtured and fulfilled me. Talent is something outside ourselves – we can’t struggle to get it, we can’t follow a proscribed process to become talented. It’s an indefinable gift. But, of course, being indefinable, I want to define it. And a couple of years ago I came up with a loose definition and reading it again today I am reminded that the long wait, the hopes raised and dashed, the long days and longer nights, they’re all worth it, always, because even if the project doesn’t go ahead after all that work, it’s been a fabulous journey and my life would be poorer without it.

Talent is the human spirit reaching out, hungry to connect, to understand and to be understood, to shed pretence and reveal the truth of who
we are. To look beyond the visible and tangible to the eternal. Talent is vulnerable. It demands that the artist, writer, musician invites rejection with everything they do. Talent is that struggle to put potatoes on the table not by ploughing but by dreaming. Talent is not an easy lover. It’s a bugger to live with. It’s demanding, relentless and exhausting. But it’s precious and the greatest gift of all.

And then, of course, of course, as a Christ follower, I turn to God and thank him for whatever talent there is in my past or future, because today is never the end of the story. Last night, when I was in bed, my phone chirruped and I saw that some new friends in Canada had sent me a link to a concert. This couple are musicians, she sings and he plays the Hawaiian guitar, and keyboards and something else that looks like a horizontal guitar. It’s good lusty melodic Gospel music. Fabulous. Like Jim Reeves on acid. Great. One of the songs that I listened to in my peaceful bedroom (with only Percy, Pip and Pico snoring softly at my side) was ‘One more river to cross.”

I’ve had a lot of troubles and trials in my little life span
When I’m standing alone and the battle gets hard, I always do the best I can
I’ve crossed a million valleys and shed a million tears
But when I come to the River of Jordan, Hallelujah, then I’ll have no fear

And the singer struts her stuff and the musicians play their hearts out, and it’s such a celebration! Now, listen, this group of fantastic singers and lively musicians and warm, funny people are all in their 70’s and 80’s! All of them.

And this woman who’s just been commissioned for a TV series is in her mid 70’s.

And a great many of the contributors to that inspiring book are well into their latter years.

So whoever you, however young or old, whether hale and hearty or poorly and glum, don’t give up! You are not alone, you are precious and unique. And if he’s spared you this long, well, he must have something for you to do, eh?

This is what Isaiah said, and although he wasn’t speaking to the world in 2023, God’s nature and love never changes, so we can claim this for ourselves.  

I have created you and cared for you since you were born. I will be your God through all your lifetime, yes, even when your hair is white with age. I made you and I will care for you. I will carry you along and be your Saviour.’

5 thoughts on “In praise of growing not-young

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