I like Ruth Roberts. I like her very much. In person she is much as she is on the page- warm, incisive and observant, honest, funny and entirely without pretention. Her book, “Am I missing something?” (Authentic, 2013) is a fantastic read, and I made her sit down and talk about it- not easy as a)she’s just had back surgery and isn’t very bendy and b) she’s not a proficient blower of her own trumpet.
So, Ruth, what is your book about?
It is basically about Christianity through the eyes of a new-ish believer; not really about how weird it all is, but taking a fresh look at things and being honest as you work out your faith and crash through the culture barrier into church life.
Is it your story really?
Yes, it’s very much based on real life events. I became a Christian after taking an Alpha course at a church where they believe in spiritual gifts like prophecy and healing. It was very different to the world of my friends and family. I hoped that writing my story would help long established Christians realise what some of church and faith can look like when you are outside the bubble, and for those who are new to it like I was to know that their reactions are maybe not surprising.
What did the writing process look like for you?
I am a journalist by training and experience, so I set myself deadlines and word counts and I would go up to the attic and bash it out. I was very organised, but I had to be because I had a baby, a two year old and a five year old. I’d ask my husband for two or three hours on a Saturday and I’d just write. I also gave myself time for editing and polishing as I went along. I didn’t have childcare in the days, so I wrote in the evenings and when my baby napped.
How did it feel when “Am I missing something?” was out and about in the world?
I felt very, very vulnerable. I wrote under a pseudonym but by the time it was published lots of people close to me knew I had done it and planned to read it. I wrote it imagining no one would ever read it, and I was brutally honest. So, yes, it was scary. But it was exciting as well. I felt proud that I had written something that had been published.
What response have you had to the book?
I have been really encouraged. A lot of people have said to me that they feel the same way and they’ve been Christians for a long time. They’ve got the same questions- about how harsh God seems in the Old Testament, and how odd it is seeing people waving their hands in the air in worship when you’re not used to it. There are people who are silent, who don’t make a fuss, but inside they don’t feel they fit. I hope I have encouraged people like that to keep asking questions, to stay engaged even when it isn’t comfortable.
What advice would you give to someone thinking about writing a book?
It is fairly obvious, but you just have to start writing. Get it out of your head and onto the page- be determined about that. Ring fence time, and get down and do it.
You can buy “Am I missing something?” HERE.