James Prescott

exploring how words & stories shape lives

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‘Mosaic of Grace collects the messy & broken parts of our lives & helps us to sort the pieces into a beautiful work of sacred art, giving glory to God” – Sarah Bessey, Author, “Jesus Feminist”


What Miami Vice Taught Me About Identity

In the 1980’s there was a TV show called ‘Miami Vice’, about two undercover police officers from, surprisingly enough, Miami. The image & clothing of the police officers, and it’s location, gave it a particular image which made it an iconic show of the 1980’s.

Toward the end of season 2, one of the principal characters, Sonny Crockett (played by Don Johnson, left in picture), poses undercover as a drug dealer ‘Sonny Burnett’. This is a false self with his own backstory.

But when Sonny gets hit on the head and gets amnesia, he only remembers the identity of Sonny Burnett. So he goes ahead and lives out that identity, not remembering he is an undercover police officer, existing solely as Sonny Burnett.

He’s not Sonny Burnett. It’s not his true identity. However, he continues to live and act like he is. And this story, and it’s resolution, is a great example of a fundamental truth about identity. In the words of Rob Bell:

“What we do comes out of who we believe we are”

In other words, our identity defines our reality.

Defy The Dipthong…Discover Your Voice

I’ve been writing for many years now – I try to not to remember exactly how many, as it reminds me of my age. I’ve written a 50,000 book and two other shorter books, and countless blog posts. and one thing I’ve learned, amongst many, is all writers have their own unique style. For example, you can use lots of words in big paragraphs, almost ongoing forever and ever, or you can

use

one

word

paragraphs.

And you can begin sentences with the word ‘and’ (I have a friend who does this a lot..).

None of these habits, or ‘quirks’ are in the rulebook of writing. I’m not sure I know many writers who sit down to write have a big book called ‘The Rules & Laws of Writing’ which they constantly check to ensure their writing fits the model.

Which is because there should never be lots of legalistic rules when it comes to writing. Every writer should be free to express themselves in their own language, their own style, their own unique way.

Including you.

How Not Writing Saved My Writing (& Changed My Life)

For the longest time, my identity in life was a writer. My value, worth and security was all tied up with how I did as a writer. Success in writing made me feel more valuable, and failure made me feel I’d failed as a person. Everything I was had been tied into how I performed, how much I achieved, how good I was.

Many people say writing every day is vital, and it improves you. So, as you do if you want to improve, I began writing every day.

It did improve me. But it allowed fear a route in. I become afraid to stop writing – because I thought if I stopped, I would fall behind my peers, and I wouldn’t get where I wanted to.

So I never stopped. I poured out energy every day writing. I burned myself out, and the quality of the work decreased as a result. And at the end of the day I felt a failure because it doesn’t do as well as I’d hoped, and it wasn’t my best work. I felt guilty going even one day without writing. My life had become controlled by writing.

That’s how easy and subtly these habits, roles or statuses can begin to control us.

And it comes from grounding our identity in the what we do, rather than who we are.

Which is why we need to reclaim the principle of sabbath.

Unlocking The Tsunami Of Words

Here I sit. In the coffee house. Drinking a strawberry smoother. And yet, I am in the midst of a battle. A battle to write.

Each single letter which proceeds from my iPhone keyboard is a victory. Every sentence is one more success. Every paragraph celebrated.

Sometimes my insides are dead. There seems nothing left in the well of my soul. There is a vacancy, an emptiness.

In these moments, it feels like I may never find the words again.

But I know also in those moments I am compelled to engage in battle. I need to overcome the demon of resistance. To go to war with this emptiness. Almost to refuse it.

To sit and wait for letters to fall out, words to form and paragraphs to to be pieced together like a big jigsaw. And eventually, what began as a drip of water in an endless desert, becomes a stream, then a torrent, then a tsunami of words pouring forth, spewing over the page – or my phone, in this case. Unleashed, to do their work, without prejudice or fear.

And they never end. They create new streams, new rivers of themes, ideas, and possibilities, which will remain open as long as they are unexplored.

The Journey is just beginning.

Why Writing Always Exposes The Truth

In the age of social media we allegedly bare more of ourselves than ever before. The digital realm has allegedly stripped us bare, naked. Exposed like someone standing on the street stark naked. And yet, whilst it’s true we share more of ourselves on line than ever before, I would argue we are still as protective of our true selves as we always have been.

It’s argued that our digital self, the self we portray online, on our Facebook and Twitter profiles, is an idealised reflection of our conscious self. But it goes deeper than that.

As Peter Rollins argues, our conscious self is often an idealised reflection of who we truly are. And many of us can begin to think that’s our true selves.

But it’s not.

It’s a reflection of who we want people to think we are.

Knight Rider, Apple Watch & The Tower of Babel

In the 1980’s there was a show called Knight Rider. It was incredibly cool. And the big star of this show – and due respect to David Hasslehoff here – was the car, KITT. A self-aware supercomputer in a groovy black trans-am. And a watch which the car’s owner, Michael Knight, could talk to the car on.

Last week Apple announced the launch of the Apple Watch. A watch we will be able to talk to and command, but which will also receive and send text messages, and connect online. Technology is advancing at a rapid rate.

It’s amazing to think the first space aircraft which went to the moon were powered by as little electricity as it takes to run a kettle. The average iPhone is a million times faster than the first home computer.

Social media is already making the world a far smaller, and quicker place, changing the way we live. The next big advancement is likely to be the pursuit of artificial intelligence and research into how transfer human consciousness onto a supercomputer. A technology which may be as little as 20 years away.

But many say technology is destroying us. They say we need to stop the advancement of technology, scale back, and go back to how things ‘used to be’. According to them technology is the cause of many of the problems in our world, and ultimately damages us. They say we need to limit and control it, stop advancing.

However, this is to fundamentally misunderstand both technology and humanity.

To understand this issue further, we need to go back in time.

To the brick, and the tower of Babel.

The Myth Of ‘Proper’ Writing

I’ve recently been involved in a little discussion over on Facebook about ‘proper’ writing and how my daily writing for a particular day wasn’t ‘proper’ writing but was still writing.

Now you’re thinking lots of different things I’m sure.

Proper writing?

Do I mean writing using formal, even posh, English language?

Do I mean writing legalistically according to the rules of language, spelling and grammar?

Do I mean writing a book instead of a blog post?

So, what did I mean?

A Journey To Authentic Writing

So it’s now September. A new month, a new term, a new season. A time of new beginnings for many of us. There’s always something beautiful about Autumn, almost as if the old is passing and the new is beginning.

And appropriately enough, today is a new beginning on this blog. Going deeper, more focussed, more authentic and vulnerable than I’ve ever been before. And my hope is as I explore this I can help you in a more powerful way than ever before.

Because that’s why I publish this blog. To help you, my readers. The great people who show up every week to read my work, many of whom have been so encouraging with their feedback, and others I have never interacted with. But I’m grateful to you all.

So why the new beginning? And what’s to come in this next turn of the page?

For that, I need to tell you a story.