Here is the first update on my writing project. This update serves as a my inner reality check and accountability meeting but as I know that you guys are reading this post, in a way I can include you in that accountability circle and make the whole thing more real. If I'm left only by myself, not much will happen or progress.

Actually, now that I think of it, I can't say I've been left all by myself. It was about 1,5 weeks ago when I received a lovely message from M. She has lived and worked in Germany for a long time and although she remembers me from the time I was a child, I don't have any recollections of her from that time so it is purely a social media based friendship for me. I know she used to be a regular reader of my Estonian blog which I wrote during my Newbold years, and now she has switched to my English blog, and every now and then I hear from her. She wrote me and told me she was very happy to read about my New Year's writing resolution (which I still try to deny as such haha) and that she's looking forward to reading whatever it is I come up with in the end. It really brightened up my day and encouraged me to take this writing thing seriously.

Oh, and J. has made at least one comment on it and has asked me how I was doing. So I'm not alone after all.

This is how things are - I try to find a couple of hours of uninterrupted time each weekend for writing. It's not much so the progress is rather slow but it seems to me that I will be able to finish the first, uhmm, chapter by the end of this month. I have no idea how long a chapter ought to be but I'm aiming at 5000 words. (Newbold years trained me to think of any text I produce in terms of numbers - the word counting was pretty terrible sometimes in Newbold, I'm hoping things to be more relaxed now but one still needs a goal of a sort.) I know there are different styles out there, style-wise I'm keeping my eye on Rob Bell, Annie Dillard and Anne Lamott. And the blogging experience comes in handy too. If I took William Faulkner as my role model, 5000 words would make about 10 sentences. That's definitely not my goal lol.

I think the most challenging thing will be the regularity - sooner or later there will come a Sunday morning when I think I've got nothing decent to say or when I just run out of topics. How do you deal wih such a mental block and how do you keep working then, I have no idea. I guess it will be all about finding the inner discipline and a reason for continuing then - not worrying about the style or depth or quality of writing. There must be something that will make me sit down and open my laptop even during such a day. I am dreading that day but it is already on its way so all I can hope and pray for is endurance.

I visited M. a couple of weeks ago, we sat in her penthouse kitchen, drank tea and ate cake and had a truly lovely time. She's one of my few friends who has actually written and published a book. A successful one, too. Among other things we talked about books because for me she's a priceless guide to the world of writing - she has been to that world, done her thing, and come out with a precious experience. And she said something that got stuck in my mind - "If you don't enjoy the process, the writing itself, there's no point of writing a book. The most important thing about the whole thing is enjoying writing." My guts tell me it's true. I try to take this advice and really enjoy the process. Fortunately, these couple of weeks I've been to it, the writing really has delighted me. I hope it will last.


As to more mundane things, some plans for this year have changed. I remember telling you about the plan to go to Lebanon to see the refugee camps and to learn from their experience. Well, that trip has been postponed, partly for financial reasons, partly for security concerns. But as I got the news about it last week, it only took a couple of days for another trip to fill its place. The Danish Union will have their annual camp meeting in the end of May and the Union president has written me and has invited me to be one of the speakers there. There will be 800-900 people, he says, and I'm also expected to lead a workshop there. So even though I'm sad about Lebanon and hope this trip will take place some other time, I'm glad to accept the Danes' invite and preach there. And hang out with my dearest A. - it has been way way too long since we had proper time to talk and be together. It will also be a good practice before I have to stand on the big stage in Valencia in August and speak there.

Which reminds me that I really need to get down to the Youth Congress talk. That thing is starting to freak me out.


As to books, I've just finished Andrei Makine's Dreams of My Russian Summers. I didn't know it was possible to write so beautifully about countries. About people or God or experiences, yes, but about countries! It's a miraculous book about France and Soviet Russia. Beautiful and dreamy and at times excruciatingly tough (WWII and Stalinist Russia cannot possibly be a pleasant or easy topic).

I'm starting to run out of Dr. A. N.'s books.


And here's a picture of my favourite girls. We had a cake date last week.


Sometimes I wonder why anyone should care to read my blog. From my viewpoint I rarely ever do anything extraordinary or have anything fundamental to say. Life is just a succession of ordinary days and ordinary events. But then I remember M.'s blog which I love to read, and I remind myself that I never leave her blog thinking it was boring, even if she describes the most usual and mundane things in her life. So here's another ordinary post about my ordinary life.

Once again I've dragged my suitcase back to my apartment after three days in Tartu. It was a good trip as it marked the end of the Greek course in the Seminary. The students (well, those who did show up) took the exam and now I can sigh with relief - it all ended well. I was rather worried after the classes finished in December as there seemed to be so much confusion and frustration among them and I started thinking that maybe I had indeed pushed them too hard or demanded too much. But the exam went well, thank heavens. The statistics was what it ought to be - out of fourteen students there were three people who have to give the exam another shot, four people (would it be mean if I mentioned that all these four were women?) aced the exam, the rest were somewhere in the middle. A classical example of Gaussian distribution. If they had all failed, I would have been the one to blame. If they had all got straight A's, well, then things would have been fishy too. But the results calmed me down, I did alright after all. Or maybe a bit better than alright - in the bottom of the last exam paper I graded I found a message that was meant for me - the student had written "Thank you for the excellent course" there. It sounded a nice cadence in the end of the semester. Now I can catch my breath and then start getting ready for the next Greek course, which I will start teaching in the end of April in Riga for Newbold Licence students. Long live Greek!

Other than teaching business, it's been, well, life. There have been good moments and moments I'd rather erase with a magical rubber if I had one. On Friday afternoon I had a longish conversation with a friend and in the end of the conversation we were both in the danger or drowning as I was crying a river for... I don't even know for what or whom. It felt a like a small breakdown. Out of the blue. Oh schucks. But then again, there were wonderfully good moments as well. On Friday evening I was invited to some friends place who had just recently moved to a new apartment and who wanted me to share the Word with them and other friends on the occasion. I had never done anything like this before and I was still recovering from my 'cry me a river' afternoon but it all seemed to go well and my friends appreciated my little dedication sermonette.

(Which made me think about how much we actually know about our pastors and what is going on in their lives. How many pastors have cried their eyes out and have then had to pick themselves up and go help someone else or share the Word with their congregation? Would we even want to know how often it happens? I don't know. Maybe not.)

Or the other moment - my cousin's little boys got table tennis bats for Christmas. They don't have the table though so in the evenings we had to use all of the floors and walls in order to play. They're all crazy about table tennis now and I had a blast playing with them. Again I left their place this morning with their hugs to warm my heart and with a kind invitation to go to their summer house again. My cousin cooked up a plan of a weekend with a lot of skiing and icehole dipping in it. I checked my schedule - my first free weekend is in the end of February and if we actually manage to make this idea happen, it would be a historical weekend. I have not touched skies since the last skiing lesson in high school - I absolutely dreaded and hated these lessons. They were one of my worst childhood (or high school) traumas, these PE classes. But if my cousin manages to make me ski again (he suggested downhill, not cross country which might make a big difference as I've never tried downhill skiing), he deserves a gold medal.

And here's the most common ending - an overview of books and music. I'm finishing Nevil Shute's novel A Town Like Alice tonight and I'm absolutely loving it. It's a very unusual love story, brilliantly written, an easy read in the middle of more serious stuff. And music wise - classical music! They have excellent play lists in those buses which I use to commute between Tallinn and Tartu, and it has long since become a habit for me to read a book and listen to classical music which makes these 2,5 hours go by as if it was just a blink of an eye. Today I enjoyed these two pieces the best: Puccini's Nessun Dorma by Jose Carreras and Gregorio Allegri's Miserere by the Claire College Choir, Cambridge.


I don't remember making many new year's resolutions in my life and keeping any I remember even less. It could be either due to the lack of memory or the lack of character. I've always thought real change has to stem from something deeper than the change of date and calendar. And I'm slow - I can't implement changes that I've thought about for two days. Or a week. I need more time.

I do remember one resolution which I made a couple of years ago and where I failed miserably. I promised myself I would start writing. Something. Anything. I ended that year with a realisation I hadn't written anything. Well, I had written plenty, articles and blog posts and such, but not anything I had thought could take the form of a book one day.

This time I didn't make any resolutions but the idea that I really should start writing hasn't let go, on the contrary, it has crept closer and grown bigger. And so it felt really natural - when I realised I was going to spend the New Year's Eve at home and by myself - that I could use a nice free evening to battle my fear and feeling of inadequacy, and well, start writing. I took my laptop home from my office on the previous day, I made some tea and ate an eye-wateringly expensive chocolate (always helps with inspiration!), opened my laptop and wrote with shaking fingers some paragraphs on a topic that is very close to my heart right now. I don't know what it will turn into or whether it will turn into anything, I don't know if anyone else but me will ever lay their eyes on it. To show it to someone else requires courage I don't yet have. But I have started. It feels equally exhilarating and scary.

Yesterday after work I realised I can't write just any moment a thought crosses my mind because I usually keep my laptop at work. So I found a beautiful little golden and black notebook which my dearest A. had given me a while ago, and started scribbling my thoughts there.

If mom was still around, she'd probably smile and say nothing. When seeing a fisherman standing somewhere for hours on end or seeing anyone else doing something she didn't think was overtly meaningful, she would gently smile and say, "Well, at least they're not harmful."

So let me walk around with my golden notebook and write down my thoughts. At least I'm not harmful.

But the real reason I tell you this is that I'd be very grateful if any of you cared to ask me, say, in March (or better still, in October) how I'm doing with this writing thing. I could use some accountability. Truly.


I would post some heartrending new year's music here but all I can think of it this. I'm sorry.


Happy new year!