The Honeycomb Maze, by Georgie Tennant

Have you ever watched an episode of Takeshi’s Castle? If you haven’t, I will struggle to describe in mere words, the spectacle you are missing. But I will try.

It is a quirky Japanese game show, in which contestants compete in numerous humiliating events that gradually eliminate them. The faithful few that make it to the end, have the opportunity to storm Takeshi’s Castle and win a prize – if, by “storm,” you mean drive around in fake cars, popping each other’s balloons. I’m still not completely clear on what the prize is, as I’ve never yet seen anyone win it. Events include:

Avalanche, in which the competitor has to get to the top of a steep hill, on a narrow path, whilst avoiding giant boulders being rolled towards them.

Bridge Ball, in which the competitor has to cross a thin wobbly bridge to the other side, whilst balls fired at them from a cannon, to try and knock them off.

Skipping Stones, in which the competitor has to cross a lake by using stepping-stones. All the stones look the same, but only some of them are solid. The other stones aren't supported and will sink when trodden on (don’t judge me when I say we root for competitors to step on an unsupported stone).

Velcro Fly, in which the competitor wears a suit with Velcro on the front, and starts on a platform at the side of a pool. On the opposite side of the pool is a board covered in fuzzy material. Using a trapeze on a long rope, the contestant has to swing over the lake, let go, and try to stick themselves onto the board. Really. It is something to behold.

By now I wouldn’t be blaming you for wondering whether this post is about to be red-flagged for its total irrelevance to writing but hang on in there – the point is coming.

Last week, during a Zoom evening to encourage those of us in different levels of leadership at my church, the speaker talked out different “doors” being opened. Being the super-spiritual kind of person that I am, my mind latched on to one of the events in Takeshi’s Castle I haven’t yet mentioned – the Honeycomb Maze. To have a full appreciation of the analogy, pause for a moment and watch the link (forgiving Jonathan Ross for his terrible narration, as you do):

I feel like the writing life (mine in particular at present) could not be represented better than by this event in Takeshi’s Castle. I start off well, with my eyes on the prize, not sure which doors to walk through, but determinedly choosing one and walking through it nonetheless.

As I do so, I start to believe this might be real, it might really happen - this might, this time, be the door that leads to success (however we choose to define it).

But then the “demons and monsters,” get in and chase me away from my goal, my dream. Instead of calmly walking onwards to my destination, I leap at the first thing available. If I am fortunate, there may be freedom behind the next door - or there might be yet another monster lurking. If I panic, I might run headlong into the water and be out of the running, disqualified from my dream altogether. If, despite all the distractions and intimidations, I keep pushing those doors, I might find myself able to, at last, make the flying leap on to the coveted platform and keep myself in the running for the next part of the “race.”

My writing life feels very much like this. “Mundane Demands of Life,” is a monster that swallows me whole. If I manage to push past this one and write something, “My Own Doubts and Fears.” might, at this point, be the monster that pushes me through the wrong door.

“Opinions of Others,” is the monster that pursues me if I make it to the next door. A critical comment, aimed at my fledgling idea is enough to send it plunging into the lake, of its own accord, even if this particular monster gives up its chase. “My Own Self Confidence,” chases me down, too, forcing me to give up on the maze and sit down in a corner and wait for another monster to find me.

I’m sure you can add plenty of your own “monsters” that pursue you through the ridiculous, honeycomb maze of your writing life.

Gladly, we do not have to navigate it on our own. Bigger than all the “monsters” that might appear through any door at any time, is our God, who guides us through. We must remember that, “What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open,” (Revelation 3 v 7) – he can slam the door in the face of any personal “monsters” that pursue us, and open wide the ones He wants us to walk through.

The words of Psalm 107 are a great comfort too: “Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble, and he brought them out of their distress. He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed. They were glad when it grew calm, and he guided them to their desired haven.”

May He give you courage to face the monsters of your Honeycomb Maze and guide and embolden you as you make the next flying leap onto the next “platform” of your writing life.

 Georgie Tennant is a secondary school English teacher in a Norfolk Comprehensive. She is married, with two sons, aged 13 and 10 who keep her exceptionally busy. She writes for the ACW ‘Christian Writer’ magazine occasionally, and is a contributor to the ACW-Published ‘New Life: Reflections for Lent,’ and ‘Merry Christmas, Everyone,’ and, more recently, has contributed to a phonics series, that has just been published. She writes the ‘Thought for the Week’ for the local newspaper from time to time and also muses about life and loss on her blog:

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