I wrote this back in the fall when I was keeping a journal for my College Writing class, but I’ve been thinking about these topics a lot lately and reading over this entry has been both refreshing and challenging to me. I hope you find it as helpful as I did.
Tag Archives: Author
I finally watched that Daniel Ingram interview (which was splendid, by the way), so now my subconscious seems to be content to sit in the corner humming the new Coldplay single and let me write in peace. Hooray! Now if I can just stay away from Hyperbole and a Half for more than fifteen minutes at a time…
Anyway, since I answered all those stellar questions from my friend Adam Swensen in yesterday’s post, I’m finishing off our little interview today with some equally inspired queries from the broniest of bronies, Tekaramity! Let’s do this!
1. What do you hope to have accomplished by the end of your life? Yes, “God’s plan” is an answer, but I’m looking for a certain specificity. Have you established yet any goals you’ll be looking to reach long-term? Do you know yet what approaches, tools, talents, and allies you’ll need to reach those goals?
For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to be a best-selling author. I still have a book bound in cardboard that I dictated to my mom when I was three years old. It featured a brave knight and a princess and a baby named Penelrocker, and at the end I told her to write “look for more adventures of the prince and princess coming soon!”. Sadly, that series was discontinued, but I held tightly to my love for storytelling and my desire to be a famous writer. As I matured, however, I realized that becoming famous is never an end, it’s a means,and if I were to gain all the fame in the world and use it as a means to make myself feel good then I would have utterly wasted my life. In God’s hands, however, fame becomes such a powerful tool for influencing the culture, and as I caught the vision of how He could use me if I were both a best-selling author and a sold-out, fully-surrendered Christian I knew that that was what I wanted to pursue. In many ways, I’d like to live a life much like that of John Green, a successful author who leverages his fame to, in his words, “decrease worldsuck and increase awesome”. I want to proclaim the gospel, help the hurting, challenge the apathetic, and encourage the disheartened, and I want to use my passion for writing to do it. I want to reach the world in big ways, and the only way I can do it is through perseverance, dedication, the support of my friends and family, and the power of my God.
2. Why do you write this blog? Put simply, why do you believe what you say matters to your reading audience? This isn’t a confrontational question, mind you, nor is it an assault on your writing or mindset therein. This is simply opening a venue that allows you to explain the blog’s purpose and the dedication driving it.
This is a question with which I’ve been wrestling for some time. I started this blog as a place to post samples of my writing, and it’s slowly evolved over time into the eclectic mixture of posts that it is today. Lately, I’ve really lost track of what exactly I’m trying to do here, and my writing has suffered as a result. I’ve been overcritical, like if there’s any chance that someone might not like what I’m writing then it’s not good enough, and I end up spending hours writing stuff I don’t even like. Finally, I sat down and thought about it for a while, and I realized that I’ve lost sight of why I started writing this blog. I don’t write to impress anyone or to garner a lot of views or to become some kind of Internet celebrity. I write to practice, I write to stretch myself creatively, and I write in the hopes that, by sharing my life and my experiences with others, I can bring them some measure of the encouragement or inspiration or laughter or guidance that God has given me. This blog’s purpose is to brighten the day and nourish the soul of anyone who happens to stumble across it, and the best way that I know of to do that is to be myself and love God with all of my heart, and to let that come out in every post I write.
3. Suppose there exists someone you’ve personally known for quite a while (preferably much of your time alive) whose contributions into your life you really ought to acknowledge verbally more often. Acknowledge that individual, describe what that person has done for you, and explain what you hope you can do to return the investment. Be bold.
As it just so happens, someone like that really does exist, and his name is Pastor Derek Max. Pastor Derek, I first came under your leadership as a cripplingly insecure Junior Higher. I had almost no friends and even less confidence, but you saw that there was more to me, and you gave me the encouragement I needed to open up and overcome my shyness. As I grew as a person and as a Christian you took time out of your life to study the Bible with me, to take me out to lunch and talk about life, to push me to reach for more. Even when I couldn’t make it to youth group for two years in a row because of other responsibilities, you made it your mission to include me in your life. I remember one year when I didn’t want to come to Fall Retreat. You called me up at home and asked me why not, and you wouldn’t take any of my weak excuses. That weekend turned out to be one of the most important of my high school years. You gave me opportunities to use my gifts to serve the youth group, and you worked alongside me as I wrote and taught and offered me advice on how I could be better. Your love and guidance have been fundamental in making me the man I am today, and I honestly don’t know if I’ve ever thanked you for it. So let me say it now: thank you, Pastor Derek, for showing the love of Christ to a loner and helping him to become a leader. I know that the only way I could adequately return your investment is to pay it forward, to invest myself in the lives of hurting youth and give to them the same gift of friendship that you’ve given so abundantly and selflessly to me.
4. Why is Photo Finish so amazing!? (I want lots of mature analysis on this one!)
One ridiculous accent + one pair of fantastic sunglasses + several quotable catchphrases + epic personal background music that follows her around everywhere = best secondary character of all time (sorry, Luna fans).
In layman’s terms, she has… DE MAGICKS!
And now, it’s time for me to sleep. After all, tomorrow I have the thing at the place, and I don’t want to be late. Thanks for the great questions, Tek and Adam! I GO!
It’s been a long time since I’ve posted a question of the day, and I’ve missed interacting with all of you guys, so today’s post is going to be all about questions.
First, a few fun questions to break the ice:
1. What’s your favorite joke?
2. If you could go anywhere in the world for a day for free, where would you go?
3. What is the surest way to cheer you up when you’re feeling down?
Now, a few things I’d love to hear your opinion about concerning the blog:
1. What’s your favorite post? Why?
2. What’s your least favorite post? Why?
3. What’s a topic I’ve never written about that you’d like to see me cover?
4. Would you be interested in writing a guest post for me at any time this year?
5. Would you be interested in having me write a guest post for you (obviously this one only applies to fellow bloggers)?
6. Should I bring the weekly interview feature (Pathos) back? And who would you like to see me interview?
7. Would you say you’re a regular reader, a casual browser, or barely ever around (and yes, I’d love to hear from all three categories)?
8. Go ahead and leave any other advice, criticisms, or jelly beans you’d like to give me, I’m always open to them (especially to jelly beans).
This is the part where you get to speak your piece, so go on! Post your answers to whichever questions you’d like to answer in the comments below. I’m looking forward to hearing what you think, so don’t be shy. Fire away!
Lately, whenever anyone asks me about my passions, the only way I’ve been able to sum it up is that I love stories. It doesn’t matter to me what form they’re in – books, poems, songs, plays, movies, TV shows – I just love to tell, hear, and revel in the beauty of a well-told story. The stories that fascinate me the most, however, are the ones that people live out day to day all around me. Our lives are so intricate, so nuanced, every moment building off of the last and no two days the same. It’s impossible to truly look around at the billions of stories being lived across the globe and not stand in awe of the Author who imagined them all. All of our attempts to create fascinating worlds, complex characters, and beautiful endings are but a reflection of His utter creative mastery. All of history, every story played out since time began, was the work of His infinite imagination, and I’m grateful for nothing more in this life than that He has given me just a fraction of that creativity. If I’m not harnessing it for His glory, I am nothing, but if I live day to day seeking to guide my story by His truth and turn as many of my fellow characters toward their Author as I can, my life couldn’t be more meaningful. Tonight, I just want to worship our great Author for all that He is, and encourage you to do the same.
This is all for You, God, the Author of the greatest story ever told. May you always gain glory, not just from the words that I write, but from the thoughts that I treasure, the activities into which I pour myself, and the influence I exert on the world around me.
I love You.
When I decided to tackle the PostADay challenge, I knew that I would learn a lot about writing, and maybe a little about myself in the process. I wasn’t expecting the learning to kick in so quickly, though, and I wasn’t expecting it to be quite this demanding. I thought that maybe I would grow better at meeting deadlines or thinking on the spot, but the lesson that I’ve already learned isn’t one of language and creativity, it’s one of character and lifestyle, and it started with a question:
Why am I doing this?
Actually, it was worded more like, “Why are you doing this?”. The Holy Spirit has a way of asking these potentially convicting questions at the least convenient (yet most important) times, and this time I was sitting in front of my computer again, checking the stats on WordPress and YouTube (again). Here’s how the conversation more or less played out:
“Why are you doing this?”
“Doing what? Checking the views on my blog?”
“Well, yeah, but I was being more specific. After all, why are you looking at your stats?”
“Because I want to see how many people are viewing my daily posts.”
“Now, theres the issue I wanted to get at. Why are you writing these daily posts?”
“(Awkward Pause). Rephrase the question, please?”
“Don’t play stupid here, just think about it. Why did you start on PostADay?”
“For the creative challenge. I wanted to stretch myself.”
“Fair enough. New question, then: why are you doing it now?”
One of the obnoxious things about being human is that the sin nature tends to creep in and ruin things. What begins as a fun idea is slowly infused with pride and selfishness, and that attitude begins to spread into other areas of life. Fortunately, one of the fantastic things about being redeemed by Christ is that the Holy Spirit is always there to see things that we are too oblivious to notice – or that we are purposefully ignoring – and He’s never too bashful to point them out. Once He does reveal a problem, though, it’s up to us to do something about it, and that’s where I am now. We’re only three weeks into PostADay 2011, and I’m already becoming a statistics addict. My focus is drifting toward how I can get more views, how I can present myself better, how I can be more noticed, and I’ve started to stake a small portion of my happiness on how many people want to hear what I have to say. I want to know that I’m heard, that I’m liked, that I matter.
It seems I’m not alone in feeling that way. Everyone is clamoring for everyone else to come and listen to them, we believe that every thought that passes through our heads is worthy of attention and we have more platforms than we could ever exploit to help us bring those thoughts to the masses. That’s not what this blog is, or should be, all about. I write, vlog, read, study, work, play, and live for one person only, and I won’t find Him on any statistics page. If what I have to say isn’t pleasing to Him, I shouldn’t even say it, and if my words bring Him glory then whether a million people read it or no one sees it at all, I should be satisfied. It’s time to bring my focus back around to where it belongs – to knowing God and declaring His truth. After all, the world doesn’t need more entertainment. The world needs more truth. The world needs to know the story of our great Author, and if I am truly His apprentice then I won’t steal His spotlight. So, whether I post stories, songs, scripture, or even a little silliness here and there, I pray that it glorifies God and uplifts His children, because that’s what He designed me to do, and the day that I stop doing that is the day that I no longer matter.
Praying that that day never comes,
The Author’s apprentice.
I’ve been a bit somber in my journal entries lately, so this evening I went looking for something fun about which to ramble. I skimmed the journal idea list in the class syllabus first, mostly because I didn’t have to get up from my chair to reach it, and the instant I saw this cliché little sentence I knew I had my topic. The prompt: name three wishes. People have whipped out this conversation piece at parties, on bus rides, and even on one disputed occasion during a desperate battle between two feuding factions of sci-fi fans, but the three wishes format never gets old. It’s short, it’s simple, and it’s always both entertaining and insightful to hear what three things matter most to your friends (or rival geeks).
My first wish would be to become a successful author. I would love nothing more than to hit the best-seller list, gain critical and popular acclaim, and be able to work at a job I love while eating Frankenberry cereal and listening to Romanian pop. On the one hand, this wish is not entirely impossible. After all, many aspiring authors have graduated to full-time status with remarkable speed, and there are also those who have to put forth more effort before they see results but still make it in the end. There’s also a more serious aspect to this wish, however, because it is far too easy for my lively imagination to get carried away with dreams of cereal-munching grandeur and lose my focus on the here and now. The truth is, I’m not a published author yet, and while I can still pursue my passion, I need to make sure that I’m also fulfilling the responsibilities that I do have.
That brings me to wish number two: I wish that I was a champion of time management. Sometimes I dream of being Master of Minutes, Prince of Priorities, and Emperor of Efficiency. Then my alarm goes off, I hit snooze seventeen and a half times, I open up my laptop to work on my upcoming Old Testament reading report, and I spend an hour browsing pictures of cats. All hail the Sultan of Scheduling. No doubt about it, I would be thrilled to receive the power of automatic discipline, but that’s the opposite of how discipline works. Discipline is all about forcing yourself to do what you need to do, not what you want to do, until you could do it in your sleep. The longer you go without discipline the harder it is to build, and the more often you make disciplined choices the easier it is to do the same next time, so this wish is achievable, too. I just need to make the move from wishing to doing.
The last wish is always the hardest, because after you decide on it you can’t go back – the wishing is over. Nonetheless, you have to decide eventually, so I choose trust. In fact, if I could only have one of these three wishes in real life I would take trust. It would be easy to wish for the money necessary for my college payments, or a girlfriend, or a comfortable life, but I don’t want to have those things handed to me at my bidding. I want to trust God to provide the things that I need at the time that I need them, and I admit that I have a difficult time doing that sometimes. I doubt whether God is interested in my looming debt or my longings for love or my desperate striving to be a better person, but in the end I know that not only is He interested in my life, He’s invested in my life. I wish I could hold onto that thought forever, that I could always remember and unfailingly believe that God is everything I will ever need, because everything else hinges on that truth. Yet even though my belief is not unfaltering, His love is, and I know that He is working through every circumstance of my life to build in me the ability, discipline, and trust that I desire.
Let’s give thanks to the God who makes wishes unnecessary.
I can’t believe it! After 28 days of writing and thinking and writing some more, I’ve won the National Novel Writing Month challenge! 50,000 words in 30 days may sound scary, but it was actually really fun! Thanks for everyone who encouraged me, especially my family for keeping me on track! “A Day in the Live(s) of Whitaker Riley” is ready for editing, and I am excited to see what this rough draft will grow into in the months to come. And to my fellow WriMos: If you’ve finished, congratulations! Celebrate! Good work! If not: You can do it! Keep going! And even if you don’t finish, what you’ve done is extraordinary, and you have the beginnings of something great before you. Don’t give up! Here’s to NaNo of 2010… may it be just as great!