Writing Sabattical

This is going to be a different, although very busy week.

From tonight, I am off to Devon for three days to get a whole load of writing done on my book. I have probably oversaid this now a few times, so I apologise if I bore you, but the lovely people at SCM-Canterbury have asked me to distil Blesséd into a book. The work is for the most part floating around in my head and on various hard disks, the theory part of it is almost all written and the practical how-tos just need to be committed to paper. Having said that, it still feels some way off being complete, and so I have taken the next few days off to thrash it out at our cottage: travelling by train also so I have extra time to work, and so that I won’t be distracted by wanting to drive anywhere.

I don’t feel too pressured by the looming deadline, but I am determined to deliver it by the end of the year as agreed. Douglas Adams once said he loved deadlines, and the whooshing sound they made as they went past, but I couldn’t do that. I am sure that there will be quite a bit of editing required, most notably to convert my sarcastic, offensive and theologically-suspect writing into something which can be published. Then there will be a headache for lawyers as they comb through my work to ensure that none of it breeches copyright. Personally, I and therefore Blesséd have always taken a fairly cavalier attitude towards copyright, not simply because I believe in digital freedom, or that I think record and film companies make an obscene amount of money already, and not just because I believe that using and reusing material is a new creative process in itself, but primarily because the Gospel is of such importance that anything that is used to spread it is fair game, and in worship, I don’t want some copyright nazi telling me how much that costs to share the Good News.

Now, in publishing this is a different kettle of fish, and so my work has to be filleted of all the copyrighted material. Surprisingly this leaves a substantial amount of material, but little finished product. For this book, I see this as an advantage, for this is to be a resource book; and so I can provide building blocks, inspiration and process and the end-user actually has to create something our of it which is theirs. I hate the idea that you can just pull something off a disk, out of a book and just run it. It’s like the Alpha Course, it needs no thought or planning, just run it and that is plain wrong for it holds no inculturation, no ownership. Take my work and make it your own. The give it to others and let them play. Copyright is bad. Creative Commons is a good idea.

After these few days of slaving over a hot wordprocessor with a poor internet connection and no phone signal (which will, let’s face it be more productive), I arrive in late on thursday night and the following morning, the first ever St. Thomas, Elson Pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham takes place. For reasons of economy, we are travelling up by separate cars, so I was concerned how we might keep that ‘Pilgrimage Spirit’, so yesterday in Church we recorded the Pilgrimage Hymn (all 20 mins of it!) and I have now burned that to CD for each car. As we hit the Fakenham Roundabout, we can play it and sing along, just as if we were in a charabanc.

The recording isn’t brilliant, or high fidelity, but most significantly, it is us. I can’t find any other recording of this on the internet, so for your own pilgrimages, here you can download our version: http://www.saintthomaselson.org.uk/uploads/tx_onepixelout/Walsingham_Hymn.mp3

We offer it to you with our love.

I am so desperate for the Pilgrimage to go well, but at the end of the day, it is not me who will make the difference, it will be God. That place steeped in prayer and mystery (and we might organise our own Ghost walk!) will do the real work fo the parish, and bring them I pray closer to God. I am just the instrument of God’s ministry, may his work be done through me. To his glory.