This post is part of the blog tour for Jocelyn-Anne Harvey’s book Not Knowing, but Still Going (NKBSG) with the strap-line, ‘A buoyant hope for uncertain times’. It includes a book review and author interview. You may also wish to read posts for Day 1 and Day2 of the blog tour. Links to later posts: Day 4, Day 5, Day 6 and Day 7.
Not Knowing, but Still Going was published by Instant Apostle on 21 April 2021. It is available in paperback or Kindle editions.
Jocelyn-Anne Harvey has taken the story of Noah and the flood as her starting point for this book, focussing on how life would have been for the four women in the ark. There are three strands to the book. The first is the Bible. The second is how life is for people at present with the uncertainties caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. The third is aspects of the author’s life, which illustrate the way God works. The three strands are spun into a seamless narrative. I was reminded of part of the verse Ecclesiastes 4:12:
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.
NKBSG is well-written and asks many questions of the reader. After each chapter there are contemplations and journaling exercises. These are well thought out and refer to other passages of scripture besides Genesis (the book where the story of Noah is told). The Psalms feature strongly, but we are taken on a journey all the way from the creation story in the first book of the Bible, Genesis to the last book, Revelation.
Although NKBSG is written for female readers, men might also learn from it. Noah is a major character after all.
I enjoyed this book and found much to ponder on. Its publication is timely as people try to pick up their lives after the pandemic.
Jocelyn-Anne Harvey has answered some questions I put to her about writing this book.
At the beginning of the book, you described how an event in 2008 near where you live was part of the inspiration for this book, and at the end you mention the encouragement you had to continue writing stories about Noah. Did pursuing a Creative Writing MA course increase your confidence in your ability as a writer?
Firstly, thank you for reading the Acknowledgements; well spotted about the MA encouragement I had for the Flood stories! I think in the sense of increasing confidence whatever we do to develop our writing muscle helps our ability. This could be anything from reading a writing blog, learning online or chatting with fellow writers. However, I think for me the discipline of postgraduate study and regular deadlines helped me to progress.
It was good to have the opportunity to dive deeper, read lots and especially workshopping –we had small groups where we both gave and received feedback for pieces written during each module. There were many times when I didn’t feel ‘good enough’ or made comparisons. But receiving positive feedback from my peers and lecturers did give me a confidence boost.
Through hindsight’s lens I’ve realised how my writing has developed since completing the Masters. I don’t think you’re fully aware when you’re caught up in the learning environment, but when I look back I can see the progress I’ve made. And I’m still balancing that tricky area of confidence and writing. I don’t think we can ever be completely confident as writers and perhaps that’s a good thing. In one way the wobbly area of doubt drives us to continually improve but what we don’t want is that doubt to stop us from picking up the pen or stop us from getting the pleasure that writing brings. I’m so glad that irrespective as to how I feel about my writing I can take confidence in the Lord and who I am in Him.
While you were writing NKBSG were you still travelling to work each day?
No, thankfully I didn’t have a commute while writing NKBSG neither was I working. For me, lockdown gave me opportunity to have the writing time. I commuted throughout my MA but wrote short stories, poems or flash fiction. I’m not sure whether I’d have been able to have had the focus to work on a longer manuscript whilst travelling up to London. Though having said that, maybe if I’d have had the impetus to write NKBSG then I would have done. It’s all about the timings with our writing work, isn’t it? As it says in Ecclesiastes 3:1 there is a season and a time for everything. I trust the Lord knew the time for my book to be written.
All writers are encouraged to read. Apart from the Bible, what are your favourite books?
I’m glad you mentioned the Bible because I always want to say that first when anyone asks me this question. There are so many favourite books I could choose. This is tricky! But the immediate books that come to mind are:
The Anne of Green Gables series by L.M. Montgomery. I love Anne’s character and how Montgomery throughout the series shows her growing up and becoming a woman. Since childhood I’ve also identified with the main protagonist because ‘I’m an Anne with a e’ too!
The Rose Revived by Katie Fforde. Some books I can only read one time but this is a book I return to at least once a year. The story is so comforting like a bowl of chicken soup. And though I may know what’s coming next, I always find I’m surprised or pick up something new. Perhaps it’s because we change as we grow so our reaction to a book does too.
Cookbooks. Any kind from Mrs Beeton to Mary Berry. I love food and when you read Not Knowing, but Still Going there is even a section about eating. I often read cookbooks at bedtime but don’t have the time to make all the dishes the next day!
It might sound a bit strange to have an author say cookbooks are one of her favourite books but when you read a recipe closely there is quite an art to the way words have been used. You can learn a lot from thinking about how instructions have been described to the figurative language used to bring the cooking process and dish alive – Nigella is a great example of this.
Thank you, Jocelyn-Anne. We share some of the same tastes in literature. It is a long time since I read Anne of Green Gables, but I still remember the scene where she used a swear word and how she felt afterwards. I hope NKBSG has similar lasting impressions on its readers.
Author bio – Jocelyn-Anne loves the Lord, learning and literature. She has a Masters in Creative Writing from the University of Chichester, and her flash fiction has been published. Having taken the leap from her senior HR role in the UK Government, Jocelyn-Anne can identify with those walking through uncertain times, and she is passionate about supporting others through theirs and helping them develop. When she’s not writing, you’ll find her in a coffee shop with friends, exploring coastal paths or trying out recipes.
If you’d like to connect with Jocelyn-Anne Harvey search for her on Facebook and Instagram.