Dreams Coming True is a Thursday feature on my blog, a way to highlight those whose goal is to create community. The dream might be a blog, a published book, a small business, volunteering, or even fundraising for a charity. Something that makes the world a better place . . . for others.
“Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin” (Zechariah 4:10, NLT).
Welcome author, speaker, and broadcaster, Sheridan Voysey, to Dreams Coming True! Leave a comment on this post for the chance to win a copy of Sheridan’s latest release, Resurrection Year (Thomas Nelson)! Winner will be announced next Thursday.
Tell us a little about yourself, Sheridan:
I am a writer, speaker, and broadcaster on faith and spirituality. I’ve written five books to date, the most recent being a memoir called Resurrection Year: Turning Broken Dreams into New Beginnings. Resurrection Year is not the book I expected to write, but is turning out to have the greatest impact of everything I’ve published so far.
Before relocating from Australia to Oxford, United Kingdom, in 2011, I was the founding host of a nationally syndicated radio show called Open House. I now write and speak full time, blog at sheridanvoysey.com, produce a weekly podcast called More Than This, and and sharing thoughts on Facebook and Twitter.
I am married to Merryn (an ever-brilliant medical researcher), and I love Thai food, dark chocolate, good books, photography, and can often be found in one of Oxford’s cozy coffee shops scribbling ideas in my journal.
Resurrection Year tells the story of a broken dream before recounting a fulfilled one. Tell us about that:
In many ways Resurrection Year recounts three dreams. The first is a dream to start a family. We pursued that dream for ten years—through special diets, healing prayer, numerous rounds of IVF, and a two-year wait on the Australian adoption list—all to no avail. As you can imagine, by the end of that ten years Merryn was in a mess.
The second dream is one that came true but needed to be relinquished. During that same decade trying for a child, my career and ministry dreams were all coming true—book contracts, exciting speaking opportunities, and particularly the Open House radio show which was the first of its kind to successfully draw mainstream Australians into a conversation about faith. But after our ‘decade of disappointment,’ family-wise Merryn needed a new beginning. And that new beginning required me to leave the show.
Apart from longing to become a mum, Merryn’s only other dream was to live and work overseas. When she was offered a job at Oxford University, we saw it as God’s way for that third dream to become a reality. Resurrection Year is the story of how we started again after having dreams broken and relinquished.
So, what is a Resurrection Year?
I’d describe a Resurrection Year as a year of new life following the death of a dream. It’s a year dedicated for you to start again. I’d love to take credit for the phrase, but it was the British author Adrian Plass who gave it to me. I was talking with Adrian off-air one day after interviewing him on my show. We’d got talking about the difficult journey Merryn and I had been on and how we hoped the new year would be better for us. He listened carefully then said, “In the Christian scheme of things, new beginnings follow the death of something, just as Jesus’ resurrection followed his crucifixion. After what you’ve been through, I think a Resurrection Year is just what you need.”
How did a book about the experience come about?
The idea was the furthest thing from mind. I had other books I wanted to write. And quite frankly, I wasn’t sure writing a book related to infertility was the ‘brand’ I wanted to adopt either! Again, I have Adrian Plass to thank for the idea. He believed sharing our story could help a lot of people. Now I get an email or Facebook message every other day from a reader telling me he was right.
What makes Resurrection Year stand out from the crowd?
Judging by readers’ feedback, the book stands out in at least three ways:
Firstly, very few (if any) books about infertility have been written by men. My own feelings of failure and insignificance recounted in the book is deeply touching female readers and giving voice to many men in a similar situation who otherwise wouldn’t share such feelings.
Secondly, Resurrection Year is not a ‘success’ story. I’ve lost count of how many people have thanked me for that. Many people who’ve experienced a broken dream have read all the seven-step, pep-yourself-up, just-believe self-help books, and none of them have worked. Very few of us get the miracle promised in such books (or promised by some church ministers). What people need to know is that, even if things go terribly wrong, they can get through it and still believe that God is good. That’s what Resurrection Year is giving people.
Thirdly, the book is helping people with a variety of broken dreams, not just those struggling with infertility. Whether it’s unwanted singleness, divorce, a dream career that’s never eventuated, or the loss of a loved one, people in a variety of circumstances are finding hope through the book. Resurrection Year is about starting again, whatever the broken dream. And by the time we reach our 30s and 40s, most of us have at least one broken dream.
How has the book created community?
Resurrection Year is quite a vulnerable book, with many raw emotions shared. The reward of that has been that Merryn and I have been initiated into what I call the ‘Tribe of the Scarred’. People pull me aside at conferences and tell me things they’ve never told anyone else. People sit in our lounge room tearfully sharing their broken dreams. I’ve already mentioned readers’ emails, but the conversations on my Facebook page show people who’ve experienced deep disappointment reaching out to one another. Appropriate vulnerability creates community as it opens up a safe space for people to share their lives and find healing.
I’m encouraged that readers are also starting to share their own Resurrection Year experiments with others too.
Many have creative ideas but trouble following through with them. What advice would you give to creative types who start projects eagerly . . . but then enthusiasm drizzles off?
The first tip is discerning which projects really need to be pursued. There are some ideas I’m glad I didn’t follow through with as they were good, but not great, ideas. Such discernment is never easy but the honest feedback of credible friends and mentors is essential, as is whether the idea passes the ‘law of love’ test. Will the project truly benefit others, even if indirectly? Pursue the ideas that do.
Once you’re on to the right idea then you seek to excel in your craft and simply get to work . . . and stay at work.
Describe the behind-the-scenes effort of your writing. Where do the ideas come from?
New, fresh, insightful ideas never come for me while sitting at the computer. They almost always come while in a relaxed state, sitting in a park or a café with a journal, or during prayer. I waste time staring at a blank screen. When the ideas have run out I need to at least go downstairs, sit on the couch with pen and paper, and pray. Desk time is for crafting and polishing ideas into sentences and paragraphs—not for discovering those ideas.
I also use a few creativity techniques too, which I’ve spoken about here. They can be helpful when the well has run dry.
What’s been the hardest part about getting Resurrection Year out?
In the writing of the book, it was reading through a decade’s worth of personal journals in order to tell the story. Reliving some of those events was painful. In the publishing of the book, it was initially being rejected by British publishers after having had a successful publishing record in Australia. (That situation was turned around when U.S. giant Thomas Nelson picked up the book.) In the promoting of the book, the hardest part has been—as it always is—getting media exposure. But I can’t complain; Resurrection Year has received dozens of Amazon reviews, and been the subject of many articles and interviews. Even if it’s fun, which it so often is, it all takes a lot of time and effort.
Have there been any unexpected surprises?
At one speaking event in Australia, copies of Resurrection Year were selling at around 6 books per minute. We ran out of stock very quickly!
- My publishers created a nice video trailer for the book
- We’ve made some chapters available free
- On release day my wife and I hosted a live launch party videocast from our lounge room which was a lot fun, although not without its technical challenges!
- I have created a lot of associated content for the book: articles, blog posts, podcasts and YouTube videos
- I have done a lot of speaking also, and will be doing a US speaking tour in October 2014. (Do get in touch if you’d like me to visit your church, conference or event.)
What social network has worked best for you?
All have been important, but I have a wonderful Facebook community that has been so generous in sharing the book with their friends.
What advice would you give someone who has a dream like yours?
When it comes to the dream of starting again after loss, I suggest people do four things: get some rest, have some recreation, find spiritual renewal, and explore a little reinvention. I explore these further here.
When it comes to the dream of writing a book, I pass on some simple advice an interview guest once gave me: read read read, and write write write. Ultimately, good writers do those two things consistently.
How can we find your dream come true?
The Podcast: More Than This
What have you learned about dreams through all this?
That a greater tragedy than a broken dream is a life forever defined by one.
Today’s the day! Join me at Baker Book House at 7:00 PM for a book signing, author chat, and a chance to meet the Lily models! Get the details here.