Monday, February 27, 2012

Pessimistic Prayer?

If this post seems to ramble into smoggy introspection, stop and imagine me hitting my head against a crumbling brick wall. Perhaps you may hit your head against your desk a few times to get in the spirit... Here goes.

I am a naturally gifted pessimist.
I'm beginning to think that writing is an outlet for my imagination which dutifully produces horrifying calamities. It could also play into the majority of my characters dying...

The last couple years I've been convicted about prayer. It's still a battleground I am trying to indulge in night and day. I have to say that sometimes it sounds like the least appealing thing to do, but like most things God commands, it is also a unfathomable blessing...and rather addicting. God is merciful to make our erratic, painful, stutters morph into joyous habits.

Recently I have woken up to a disturbing personal trend. I am properly horrified. I continue to be shocked at my shock at God's direct answers to prayers. Right then, right there. He'll even rub my face in it when I trudge along staring at the mud. 

God's answers to prayers are often rather roundabout (thankfully there not what I might call down). Sometimes the answer simply is “no” and often “patience”, but sometimes God really does delight to answer them right there...right in my face.

At the beginning of the year I like to take a few days to obsess over generally unrealistic goals and plans. This year my Mumsie handed me a newly discovered sheet of paper with a host of open-ended questions. I attacked it with pleasure, compiling lists of things to do, skills to cultivate, and relationships to work on. I neatly skipped the first question, but since then I've come back several times. I am puzzled over my inability to answer a simple question.

What is the most humanly impossible thing you will ask God to do this year? 

It remains unanswered. A large white space...seemingly raising its eyebrow and staring critically into my soul. ;-)
Why do I have such a hard time with this question? I mean, there's plenty of things I want God to do that are impossible. That's not the the issue... Or is it? Maybe we should define “
impossible.And maybe I should ponder what kind of relationship such a word has with my all powerful God...

When the rather slow moving side of my head wakes up and says “Maybe I should be praying about this instead of waving my arms and shouting”, I should, can, and do stop and pray. But with twisted, cynical satisfaction, I continue to plan for the worst possible circumstances. I do not look for God's answer. What's with this? Don't I believe my Father overflows with steadfast love? Don't I believe my Savior conquered “impossible”? Don't I realize I have been given the the already inconceivable gift of prayer to bring thanksgiving and struggles to Him?

What kind of prayer am I praying?
It certainly doesn't seem to be the kind watching with bated breath for the moment God will move Mount Fuji. It might just take a volcano to get my attention.

This might just play into my pigheaded inability to "dream big".
It's scary to think the impossible is possible. 

It's considerably easier to plan for mud when it's raining. But it doesn't mean there's a year of mudfest ahead. It might mean tomorrow is spring. If you insist on tromping about in rubber boots, you're going to miss free bare toes in the grass, the dirt, the gravel. If you carry an umbrella to protect you from the rain in your head, you're going to miss the sun altogether.

But I digress...

Maybe I should stop and pray about this...
To my God who is beyond my understanding. Who has had every moment planned out for me...not done in for me. 

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Wordsmithy - Doug Wilson

Wordsmithy: Hot Tips for the Writing Life by Douglas Wilson

Canon Press 2011

Rating: 9
Readability: 9
Impact: We shall see!
Recommend it: Yes. Even if you only write for necessity.

What to Expect

Doug Wilson attacks the craft head addressing the craftsman. Wordsmithy discusses how to be a person with your head on right--how to be a good writer not just good at writing.

The book is divided into seven tips with seven sub-tips, "a veritable Russian doll," as he puts it. From living to reading, from mechanics to language, from lousiness to skill, from sketching to stretching, Wilson moves with light-hearted seriousness from topic to topic while demonstrating his own subject matter.

Each portion has a bolded take-away-point and various recommended books (which I can't wait to attack). It spares no words, but at the same time feels slightly rollicking. Between the style and organization, the book is good for taking notes or glancing to refresh or re-inspire. Be careful if you're reading in a quiet library. You will laugh at some point or other.

My Squib

I started through for the third time to take notes and found myself writing down something out of almost every paragraph. This review has been in progress since the first week of January... My blog life is in ruins. ;-) But I'm glad I'm finishing now after reading it a few more times...

When I started Wordsmithy I was trying to make some heavy decisions about teaching, life, and all that. I think I could rightly blame chapter one for the mess of algebra and Latin I'm in. Wilson gives a strong argument for living like a human and tackling the difficult, and not just the difficult directly related to writing.

I had to explain enough chuckles that I ended up reading large portions out-loud. Also wonderful.

In short, Wordsmithy makes me want every soul to be a writer so I can force this book into their hands and head. But perhaps the rest of you already know all this stuff and don't need the encouragement and fun. :-)

Even so... there will be a giveaway of this slight tome happening here abouts. Watch carefully.

From the Book

These are all from the first chapter. You'll have to discover the rest for yourself. :-)

"Real life duties should be preferred over real life tourism. You are learning about the world and the people in it, about whom you will write, and you are learning how to do your job in the service of others, which is what you need to continue to do as you undertake the writing life. Knowledge of how to do your duty in one area transfers readily to another area."

"Live Ovid said, it is an art to conceal art, and I would add that it is art to half conceal the deep message. True artists know how to do this deftly, and message-mongers do not. But doing it deftly and with wisdom should never be confused with not doing it at all."

This quote is particularly good for me-
"If you enjoy living, you will enjoy writing about it. And if you enjoy writing about it, the chances are greatly increased that the readers will enjoying reading it."

"Love what you observe, love what you write, and love those who wrote it."

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Anonymous Antagonist: Giveaway and other Fun Stuff

If you have not discovered The Anonymous Antagonist, the time has come.

Daniel is currently doing a series of interviews with young people interested in the arts. There are some very thought provoking questions.
Thinking through the answers is a good exercise...and trying to make the answers intelligible is an even better one. :-) I'm realizing more and more, that this is the best thing about blogging for me. Actually thinking through something enough to write it out in an understandable manner.

Consider my post for last week this interview.  Thank you, Daniel, for including me in this!

The Anonymous Antagonist is also having a very exciting giveaway which includes such awesomeness as Amazon giftcards, artwork, and books. Check it out. 

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Various Notions about 2012

A whole new year. least most of one. Can it possibly be February?

I guess there are many unknowns to every year...well, every moment. So this post is simple ideas from someone who has no idea what song will pop up next on Pandora, let alone what her 2012 is going to be written like.

Last year I would not have dreamed of crawling into nine different airplanes and spending one weekend at home all summer. I'm not sure I would have ever planned such a thing, but I'm glad for every day of travel and busyness that made up 2011.

Once upon a time I believed I'd rather die than tutor...this year I started teaching and shocked myself for enjoying that too.

You get the idea... Life is strange.

This year should be tamer in one respect. You can't afford to traverse the earth every year. :-)

Anyways... This post has been in the works for weeks. The real point point is to talk about writing. Here are my writing goals for the year-

1. Finish my nonfiction book for our business. Like FINISH. And PUBLISH.

2. Complete the rough draft of Where Loyalties Lie.

3. Write a 100 page screenplay.

4. Submit at least 12 articles or pieces of poetry. Get published once.. :-)

5. Attend another multiple day writers' conference.

6. Write 24 poems.

7. Read a book a week.

8. Write letters.

9. Post on this here blog once a week.

10. Clean up a novel or short story enough to submit somewhere.

And all that, combined with the rest of this life, should keep me busy!
And, my #1 goal this year... Be willing to change my plans for the better ones God shows me through His faithfulness. Not clutch my ideas when He's got better ones. Learning this... learning this...

Now... on to regular posts again.

Thanks for reading,