Friday, August 11, 2017

Created for Community by Cathe Swanson

Cathe Swanson
Sure, writing is a job we can do alone, but should we? Author Cathe Swanson shares her wonderful perspective on community and what God has to say about it. 
~ Dawn Kinzer



Created for Community

Most writers identify as introverts. Some of us even have our Myers-Briggs tags memorized and wear them like a badge. Some of us use the label as an excuse to avoid community.

Being alone is peaceful. Writing is the perfect occupation for a private person. I sit at my desk and watch the birds at the feeders in my garden while I write, refilling my coffee cup periodically and puttering around the house. I envision myself like Jane Austen sitting at her spindly desk, quill pen in her graceful hand, or as the man hunched over a manual typewriter, vigorously attacking the keys, a pipe clenched between his teeth.

The work of writing is a solitary pursuit, but writing is what we do—not our whole identity. As a child of God, I am more than a writer. I am a part of the church—one member of the body of believers, built into one whole, of which Christ is the Head. God created us for community and equipped us with the tools—the spiritual gifts—we need to build each other up into unity.  He said we should stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, encouraging one another.

After creating the world and calling His work good, God took one look at Adam’s situation and said, “It’s not good for Man to be alone.” So he created a woman, and then families, cities, nations and churches. Communities.

I was always too busy with activities and communities while we raised our sons, and it wasn’t until the youngest one graduated that I had any time to myself. I retired from my long career as a homeschooling mom and enjoyed staying home. I wrote. Sometimes I wouldn’t leave my house from one Sunday to the next, perfectly content to stay at home, writing. I had church and some online communities, convenient and undemanding, and that seemed like enough.

The stories piled up in my computer, collecting digital dust and rapidly becoming dated. They weren’t bad stories, but they were private. Writing was something I did alone, and I shied away from the idea of publication, certain I would fail. I got a job and went to work for a few years, and even though I kept writing, I didn’t do anything with the stories. Writing became depressing. Fruitless.

Meanwhile, a woman I had known online for many years—a good friend—was rapidly becoming a successful author. She encouraged me when I didn’t want to bother writing anymore. She persuaded me to share my writing with a few people. Then she nagged and dragged me into online writing communities. I joined the ACFW, nationally and regionally. I learned that another old friend, also an author, was a member of that group. Together, we established a local group. I attended conferences and took online classes. I listened to podcasts, joined Facebook groups for authors, met more local writers, and I gained confidence as my knowledge and skill increased. I was challenged and encouraged by “real” authors.

And one day, someone introduced me to another person, saying, “This is Cathe. She’s an author.” It was real. My first published work was a (very long!) novella in a Christmas collection, followed by a full-length novel a few months later. I will have two more books out this fall. In isolation, I was a writer without a vision for the future. With friends and community, I became an author.




Baggage Claim
Baggage Claim

There had to be at least one healthy branch on his family tree…

Who can he trust?

Ben Taylor, widower and father of four lively children, enjoys his easy, uncomplicated life. He likes his work and has a competent nanny to manage his household. Everything is good until he decides to seek out his biological parents and discovers a family tree with tangled roots and broken branches.

His comfortable life crumbles when he gets caught up in a criminal network of fraud and conspiracy at his new job. When Ben is forced into a dangerous alliance, he scrambles to find a safe situation and protection for his children before setting out to clear his name—all without getting himself killed in the process.

A nanny with a past…

Becoming a nanny was the perfect solution when Teresa Cooper needed a place to hide ten years ago, but now that she’s no longer in danger, she’s ready to move on and make a new life for herself. When Ben asks her to take the children to an unknown relative in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, she finds herself in hiding again, this time with four children in tow.

As the children explore the wilderness of the Upper Peninsula, Teresa begins to wonder about God’s plan for her future. Who is this stranger Ben trusts with his children? Why here? Can a city-bred nanny find joy in this wild corner of God’s creation?




Cathe Swanson lives in Wisconsin with her husband of 33 years. They enjoy spending time with their family and being outdoors, kayaking, hiking, birdwatching and fishing, but summer is short in Wisconsin, so it’s important to have indoor hobbies, too. Cathe has been a quilter and teacher of quiltmaking for over 25 years, and she enjoys just about any kind of creative work, especially those involving fiber or paper.


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8 comments:

  1. "I retired from my long career as a homeschooling mom and enjoyed staying home. I wrote. Sometimes I wouldn’t leave my house from one Sunday to the next, perfectly content to stay at home, writing. I had church and some online communities, convenient and undemanding, and that seemed like enough."

    This sounds like Heaven. I am a homeschooling mom and I have been wondering what comes next. This sounds wonderful!

    But...

    I like the part about your friend encouraging you. No one is an island.

    :-)

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    Replies
    1. It is heavenly! LOL It was a good season, and I got a lot of writing done then.

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  2. Cathe makes me so jealous of her being retired that I made her a villain in a book. Oddly enough, she likes it!

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    1. I love that character. She seemed so innocent at first, and then BAM!

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  3. Cathe, I leave my day job in a year. I'm so looking forward to having more writing time. I long to have more hours to devote to my new job.

    Still I can't imagine being home for an entire week and not going somewhere. I'm just not wired that way.

    Now for the arduous task of keeping focused on the right things. . .

    ReplyDelete
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    1. I struggle with keeping focused.
      I do leave my house more often now, for my weekly writing group, shopping and some social activity, but lately it's been all houseguests and visiting grandchildren keeping me busy.

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  4. Cathe, what you learned in those solitary years has helped me and so many others. It was valuable time, but I'm so glad you're sharing your words and knowledge now! Love your last line: "In isolation, I was a writer without a vision for the future. With friends and community, I became an author." Thanks for encouraging us to find balance--we need alone time, but we can't live out this calling without community.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you, Becky. You are right - we can't live it out without community.

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