Rosie Deedes: Writing a Book

Added about 5 years ago by Rosie Deedes

GUEST BLOG: Ever since first starting work as a chaplain in Holloway women’s prison in 1999, Rosie Deedes has wanted to write a book. She had a strong sense that people needed to know what went on within that taboo, hidden-away world; a world which most people would never experience. Here she discusses her motivations and what she has learned from the creative process.

In 2018 I stopped saying that I ought to write, and finally got down to doing so. I gave myself the target of that year to see if I could write a book about chaplaincy for publication. In 2017 I had started as a chaplain in a hospice, and working in this context reminded me of the fragility and brevity of life—it was this that prompted me to start.

I live with my family in a beautiful place, Ventnor, on the Isle of Wight, and we are blessed with spectacular views of the sea. So, every Friday—my day off—I sat on my rocking chair in the bay window of my bedroom, looking out to sea, laptop poised on my lap and wrote. The words came much more readily than I imagined they would. I found that I could recall experiences that had happened years previously, easily. The people, their faces, their lives, and my encounters with them, came flooding back; it could be very emotional as I relived some deeply sad situations. The views of the sea, and the beauty of the environment helped me to maintain a sense of perspective.

At times I wondered whether was I dishonouring those who had entrusted me with their stories, but I know that many people I met found comfort and strength in their own situations by believing that someone else might learn something from them. By sharing the stories of those who cannot speak for themselves I hope I have given these people a voice to help others.

Because of the nature of the work I have done, the issues of confidentiality, and the necessity to keep my home life and work separate, I rarely talk about what I do day to day, except in the safety of work supervision. This book has given me the opportunity to share what has previously been hidden. Perhaps I too have found my voice.

In accompanying people to the point of death, and in supporting those who have been bereaved in a hospice and prisons, I have learned the healing act of listening. It is an art and a skill to listen with compassion, kindness, without judgment or a desire to problem-solve. I hope that my reflections on attentive listening will help others to develop this gift for themselves.

Part of the ethos of the hospice movement is to encourage people to think about their mortality, to be more comfortable and open about dying, and to be better prepared practically and emotionally when faced with death. I hope that Into the Depths, which focuses on death and dying, will help people face the taboo of death, and take away some of the fears that surround it.

This book has given me the opportunity to share what has previously been hidden. Perhaps I too have found my voice.

When I worked in prisons, I learned the value of freedom: making choices for oneself, and being able to be spontaneous. From those who were incarcerated I learned to appreciate being able to walk in the rain; being able to drink a decent cup of tea from a china mug; being able to see or speak to my family every day. From working with those who are dying, I have learned the importance of life itself—not taking health in body or mind for granted; the importance of making the most of every moment. These are precious lessons that have made me more contented and have enriched my life.

What I have also learned is the importance of listening to one’s own desires—not putting off what you have a sense you need to do, but finding a way to just get on with it! When I set my mind to write I found I could do it, I enjoyed it, and I found it meaningful. I hope that by reading this book, the reader will find the courage to listen to their own inner voice—the secrets of their own heart—their true self—and fulfil their ambitions, just as I have done by becoming a published author.


Rosie Deedes has worked as chaplain in several women's prisons, a prison of male sex offenders, a university, and is now the Spiritual Care Lead at Mountbatten Hospice on the Isle of Wight. Her brand new book, Into the Depths, is available to buy now.

In this reflective and practical book, Deedes considers the nature of pastoral care, particularly in situations that take minsters to the edge of institutions and society. This book will help those who engage in ministry to understand the key features of pastoral care; what qualities those who provide it need; and how those who offer it can remain resilient. Get your copy today.

Please note: Sacristy Press does not necessarily share or endorse the views of the guest contributors to this blog.

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