Tag Archives: Writing

I’ll Have A Slice of Self-Control Please

Self-control is a fruit of the Spirit

Self-control can change your life.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. How many times do we talk about love, joy, and peace? Kindness and goodness get thrown in for good measure, but how many times do we talk about self-control? Doesn’t sound that holy. How many times to you hear, ‘God really blessed me with self-control this week!’ Somehow we let that one slip past, like the other parts of scripture that convict us that we really don’t want to deal with.

Self-control would be a pretty good one to get a hold of. Our society is pretty messed up from domestic violence, gang violence, obesity, debt, abortion. Just think how self-control could change so much.  Self-control demands limits to our own wants. We usually know what those limits are, we just choose to ignore them. It’s hard. We feel a rush when we indulge in something that’s just outside our control. It’s a mixture of pleasure and guilt. If our conscious is still sensitive, we’ll feel terrible afterward, but will still be helpless to avoid doing it again.

God has a gift to help with that. It’s free. It’s available. All you have to do is ask for it. Don’t think you don’t need it, you’re human. God knows who we are and provided everything we need to live blessed and happy lives. It’s our responsibility to ask and receive those gifts. He wants us to be proactive in this. How much of Him do you want? I going for the full banquet. All the fruit looks pretty good to me. I want more. There’s only so much I can take in today, so I’m going back for more tomorrow.

I want self-control in my life. About that writing project, will I dedicate my time better to finish it? Yeah, I need help. Will I stop before saying something hurtful and negative? Need help. Will self-control help me walk in kindness and consideration for others? Youbetcha. If there’s a blessing from heaven that’s available to me, I want it, as much as I can take in.

Related Post: Go Ahead, Pray For Patience

 

Read the first chapter of my book Crucible Heart

 

Love God With Everything You’ve Got

With all our heart, soul, strength, and mind.

Love God with everything we’ve got.

Then one of the scribes . . . asked Him, “Which is the first commandment of all?” Jesus answered him, “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear O Israel, the Lord your God is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ ” (Mk 12:28)

I’ve been a Christian for years and years and years. I thought that meant that I loved God with all my heart, all my soul, all my mind and all my strength. I believed Him. I loved Him. But I was wrong.

Knowledge of and passion for are two different things. God showed me very clearly that I did not love Him totally, passionately. In fact, there was nothing in my life that I was passionate about. Nothing. There were things that I liked, even loved, but nothing that burned with passion inside me. I was all words, no fire.

I became ashamed of my faith because it was weak and valueless. I asked God to forgive me. I confessed the sin of my self-indulgence and arrogance. I shook off the platitudes of pretense and lay before Him stripped of my self-assurance. He gave me back a heart full of blessing and hope.

I tell Him everyday that I love Him with all my heart, all my soul, all my mind and all my strength. He can have all my dreams and hopes. There is nothing I love or want more than Him. He is my heart, my soul, my mind and my strength. And the more I love Him, the more He shows His love for me. I lose nothing and I gain all of heaven. And He still chooses to give me the desires of my heart. He makes my dreams come true.

Related Post: Everlasting Love

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The Play’s The Thing

My future daughter-in-law is visiting while she and my son make wedding plans and try to find an apartment. In between their running to and from appointments, she finds time to do her Shakespeare homework for school. She showed me her five-pound Complete Shakespeare that she lugged out with her from Michigan and I pulled out my beat up five-pound copy to compare. Mine has definitely seen better days.

Makes me think back to my young days when I first saw Romeo and Juliet, the Zeffirelli version. I was twelve. My friends and I sat through multiple showings because we were trying to see Romeo’s butt when he got out of bed. I was scandalized that he would really be naked under those sheets. But unlike my friends, that movie ushered me into a lifelong love of Shakespeare. I bought the paperback version of Romeo and Juliet and quoted the balcony scene for weeks. After that, I read all the comedies and several of the histories. I’ve never been a big fan of the tragedies, with one exception. Hamlet is my all time favorite play, with Cyrano de Bergerac a close second, even if it’s not one of the Bard’s.

Hamlet is perfect. He’s the perfect character and the play is perfect in construction. When my son was in middle school, he wanted to enter a school talent contest. He was thinking of quoting a poem, but I upped the ante and pulled out Hamlet’s soliloquy. Once we worked our way through it so he understood what was going on, he tore it up on stage. He said it better than anyone I’ve heard, and yes that’s Mom talking, but also a true Hamlet fan talking. I’ll pass on discussing my own lame version of Ophelia that I played at a Shakespeare festival. The poor girl suffered enough.

There’s just something wonderful about the wit and language of these plays, and sonnets. I find a lot of performances insufferably cute or horribly pretentious. So much so that I’m afraid to spend the money to see them. Best really to sit quietly and read them while the scenes play out in your head, try as you might to think of someone else besides Gweneth Paltrow playing Portia or Helena.

Shakespeare was the Michelangelo of wordsmithing. I almost wish he had also written prose. His language sweeps from coarse to sublime effortlessly. If novels more popular in his time, he would have, no doubt, written classics, though I suppose that he had a real love for the stage. It’s just amazing that the greatness of his writing continues to carry on. Just goes to show that excellence lives long after mediocre is forgotten.

Sprouting Idea Seeds For Fun and Profit!

I’m reading a book I picked up at BEA a few years ago called The Mind of Your Story, discover what drives your fiction, by Lisa Lenard-Cook. She talks a lot about the left brain, right brain thing. Apparently, I get which one is which mixed up all the time, but I do get that one side leads in analytic thinking and the other in creativity.

She talks about taking individual story ideas and putting them together with other story ideas. Maybe you think about a hurricane hitting a small seacoast town. Later on you think about a baby that’s born without legs. And then you something makes you think about aliens landing to learn about our culture. You might put those three story seeds together and write about a woman giving birth during a hurricane and being rescued by compassionate aliens. Hmm, that might be fun to write!

One of her examples was about visiting some elderly friends who both had Alzheimer’s. She went on to describe how she put that story together with two other story seeds, but I was stuck on the two friends with Alzheimer’s. My grandmother had that so I remembered what it was like in the nursing home, seeing her in her wheelchair, lost to the world. She couldn’t, or wouldn’t talk much, and when she did, it wasn’t really her. But two friends with the same illness in the same nursing home made me think of a story idea. What if the two of them could communicate to each other? What if there were lively conversations between them that no one else could see? It could be both sweet and painful.

I’m not very good at writing down tidbits of ideas that I get, but I’m going to start doing that. They may not turn into full-length books, but maybe short stories. Or maybe there is a breakout novel in those germ seeds. That’s the fun part of being a writer. It’s ok to let your imagination run away with you. If you don’t, your stories can be stilted. The three seed idea is intriguing too. Sounds like an interesting way to come up with ideas if you’re stuck.

What do you do to come up with ideas?

Me and Bilbo, We’re Like This!

I know, I know, Bilbo and I! I’m trying to make a point here. Bilbo is one of my favorite book characters. Obviously I’m not a romance reader. I don’t go for the tall, dark, and handsome, sweep me off my feet kind of guy. I’m more for a cozy fresh-baked bread, pot of tea, and jam kind of guy.

That’s my Bilbo! He’s just a regular guy, er, hobbit. He lives in snug, but clean house underground with a view of the garden. He loves to cook and write. (Me too!) There’s that smoking thing and beer that I can do without, but I appreciate his hominess. He is the ultimate homebody. He’s not a bigshot in the community, he’s just another hobbit, settled in his habits and traditions. I can identify with that.

But where did all these dwarfs come from! Who said they could walk in and make themselves at home–so many of them!  Bilbo reacts like I do when dwarfs rock the boat. I get flustered too. But there’s something in him that even he didn’t know about. Something Gandalf could see, but Bilbo would never accept if told. Something that carried him through danger and fear. He possessed courage even he didn’t know he had. And in the end, the old traditions just weren’t all that special anymore. Bilbo found out how big the world really was and sought out retirement with the elves in a place far from his old hobbit hole. There’s a journey for you.

I like to think that if Bilbo can do it, we all can. It would be nice not to face the dragon, but there are worse than dragons in our world and there are times when we have to stand up to them. The testing of courage is no easy matter, but coming out on the other side alive and well takes us to another place altogether. Then we can go home to our tea and jam, or hang out with the elves. It’s great to have choices, but you have to follow the journey to find them.

A California Girl in Mark Twain’s Court

One of the unexpected benefits for volunteering at Bookshare is book  rescue. After a book has been torn from its cover and despined in a machine that would make a French executioner tremble, is getting to keep the amputated stack of pages. The day I witnessed this carnage, I happened to see the newly released Autobiography of Mark Twain in a stack ready for destruction. After hearing me yelp at seeing it, the chief executioner promptly grabbed a sticky note and put my name on it for future rescue.

This tome is 2 1/2 inches thick. (Use your thumb and finger to approximate that right now.) It’s a big book! And it’s all lose pages, put back into its cover and held together with a rubber band. I decided the best way to manage reading it is to staple ten pages at a time and carry them where I want to read.

I haven’t even begun reading Clemens’ actual autobiography yet, that begins on page 201, yet I’m already endeared to the man all over again. I first touched by him years ago while working for a rare book dealer. I happened to come across a pamphlet that Clemens wrote about moving his family to San Francisco for the summer. The first thing he did was to search the neighborhood for kittens. When he found a litter, a paid the family for “use” of them and brought them back to romp and play on his porch. His delight at watching the kittens and the mother cat was sweet. So unlike the crusty iconoclast he was known to be.

But now I see that I actually fall into the Clemens mold. It took him from three to seven years to complete his major books. I don’t know if that was because of having to do multiple revisions or because he was easily distracted. So far, I follow both examples.

He also found writing diaries boring. He started work on his biography dozens of times over at least forty years. Several times he thought to just write a diary and fill in around it to complete his autobiography, but gave it up after a week of writing. I so understand! Writers are supposed to journal for some reason, but I just cannot force myself to do it. I’m not sure I can find all the journals I have started over the years only to discard them or grab them other uses. Best not to try to force creative behavior I guess. If Mark Twain can get away with it, and it seemed to work out well for him, then I feel like I’m in good company. I’m not sure what else I will discover about this new paragon of mine, but I’m can’t wait to see.

The Voice Inside

I’m getting ready to teach creative writing at a summer camp next week. I recently typed the journal of a my stepmother’s father dated 1895-1908. Someone at church stopped me yesterday for a kick in the pants to do their own writing. Suddenly I’m realizing how important it is for everyone to find their own voice and write it down.

The kids need to learn that everyone can write. Certainly there are people with a talent for writing, but everyone can write what they dream. God is the Grand Author, the Word. He allows us to tap into His creativity as much as we want. I’m so excited to see what kids, older and younger, think about. It could be the start of a lifelong journey and I get to be part of  it.

My stepmother’s father wrote down his hopes and dreams and chronicled his life as a pastor traveling through Northern California. He talked about selling his good horse and buying a bicycle. He talked about having to use oil lamps when he moved to a house without electricity. He talked endlessly about being in love and his delight when he and his wife were finally married. Those memories are so precious. We need to journal, video, or somehow capture who we are. This man who lived so long ago had no idea about who I would be, yet his journal touches me. Our memoirs don’t have to be published, but having something to pass down to the generations that follow will bless them and teach them more than you know.

And what about that person who stopped me at church? He has a book in him – three in fact. They’ve been roiling around in his brain for years and they need to come out. What have you got in you? I won’t kid you, writing a book is hard work, but if it’s in you, get it out! Even if you make copies that only get to a small audience, it may go exactly to the one person who needs it most. We are not islands. Most of what Jesus talked about in the New Testament was about how we relate to other people. What you have is to be shared and by sharing with each other, we all win.

I love to hear that people are writing, for private or public consumption. There’s some housecleaning that goes on in your brain when you write. It helps settle thoughts that you never quite clarified in your mind and opens the door for new ideas. Like Indiana Jones stepping off the cliff onto an unseen bridge, you sometimes don’t see the creativity until you actually start writing. Now go forth dreamer! Write something!

Of Books and Readers and Happy Thoughts

It’s been crazy promoting a new book. It’s as much work as the writing, but it’s exciting to see people find what I wrote and like it. That’s just what it’s all about. It’s great when I find a good book. I feel as if I’ve found new friends and I feel a connection with the author. I get what he had in his mind, or I think I do. If he’s a good author then I probably did get what he meant. (Or she, I’m not trying to be sexist!) It’s even cooler being the author and having people make that connection with me. I think every writer has a little Sally Field inside of us – You liked it! You really liked it! There’s an extension of who we are that goes out to the reader and finds a place to be remembered. Even if the reader hates it, they won’t forget. I hope to be remembered fondly actually. And when that reader is a child, I am especially jazzed. Kids are so open to wonder and imagination that it’s just fun to go there with them.

So here’s to you readers! Find your books and enjoy them. We’re here for you as much as you are here for us. I may never meet you or hear from you, but if you have my books, then you have a part of me that I hope you enjoy. But feel free to let me know : )

You Can’t Do It Alone

I suppose this applies to people working in just about any field, but I’m working on being a writer so this is how I’ll talk about it. You can’t do it alone. Yeah, the writing part, probably should be doing that alone, but even then you need help. How do you get better if you don’t get input from other people? Beginner, intermediate, or master classes are always a good idea. Feedback on your writing will make you a better writer, just don’t wear your feelings on your sleeve. If you need improvement, it’s not a personal put-down. It’s just what it is. Let other people help.

Resource help can come from classes, online forums, or books. (Thank you Christopher and Allison, I’m reading through my gift and enjoying it!) Bone up on the basics. I’ve read a lot of poorly punctuated writing lately and that hurts the work. Post your work somewhere where you’ll get safe feedback and be ready for what you get. Don’t assume the worst, it’s a wonderful feeling when people you don’t know have good things to say about your writing.

And what do you do when you’ve worked that piece to death and it’s ready for the world? Big decision time. Find an agent, start shooting out submissions, print it yourself? You have to talk to people. Find out the pros and cons about all your options. You could be walking away from the perfect scenario by not asking. Find someone you trust to bounce business questions off of. Have someone, preferably a lawyer or someone well versed in legalese, read through contracts with you. Get feedback on pricing, distribution, and marketing. You’re not just a writer now, you’re an industry. Yes, we all long for the days of publishing companies doing it all, but we have to put our glasses back on and get to work.

It’s just amazing how many people we depend upon along the way. Some come to us as gifts from God, others we have to search out. It takes a village, apparently. I’m so grateful for all the people I know I can go to for help and direction. In the end, the decisions are mine, but having good counsel takes a load of pressure off my little brain. I’m the first one to admit that I can’t do it alone.