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: writing
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!
The strange thing about having more than one place that you call home is the incredible mixture of feelings that comes when you move from one to the other. The simultaneous sensation of loss and restoration, tearing away from the familiar and returning to where you belong, is indescribable and bewildering, but it’s a good kind of bewilderment. Today is my first day back at my second home on the gorgeous campus of Lake Ann Camp, and while I miss my family, it’s been absolutely marvelous to see so many old friends and to return to my beloved duties as a second cook. I’ve only been here for a day and I can tell that this is going to be a fantastic summer, and I can’t wait to discover what kind of adventures lie ahead. So here’s to the summer, and to spending the next five months growing as a writer, a Christian, and a human being as I work alongside my best friends to love people and serve them tasty food in the most beautiful place on earth.
I was chatting with my little brother on Facebook this evening when a friend of mine from Lake Ann Camp, Ted Sadler, sent me a message. We conversed for a while, then he said, “By the way, thanks for helping to inspire me,” and posted a link to his new blog. It turns out that during the week that we’d worked together at Lake Ann, I had planted the seed in his mind to start blogging, and he decided to follow through with it last week.
His new blog, In One Direction, is only a few days old, but it’s already shaping up to be a blog worth following. Ted is an excellent writer and poet with a lot of great insights about the Christian walk, and his posts are both challenging and uplifting. I’d encourage you to give his first three posts a read, starting with this one to get an idea of his vision for the site, and be sure to check back for updates in the near future.
Congratulations on your new blog, Ted, and I can’t wait to read more as you write for the glory of God!
Sometimes I think writer’s block is literally a block, wedged into the spout that carries ideas through your brain to your fingers. Sometimes a few thoughts will trickle past it, but you can tell there’s more where that came from if you could just get that confounded brick out of the spout. The only way to jiggle writer’s block loose is to wait for a while without thinking about it, let the ideas fill up behind it for a while until the pressure is too much and they all come bursting through in an exuberantly jumbled flood.
There are also days when writer’s block is more like the Tingler. It sits on your spine, and instead of feeding on your fear it feeds on your ideas. It grows bigger and bigger and scarier and scarier as it devours every drop of inspiration that comes your way, and eventually you just have to scream or it’s going to kill you and proceed to terrorize the patrons of a nearby movie theater.
Of course, sometimes you get the milder brand of writer’s block, like a middle school bully. Nobody likes him, so he decides he’s going to take it out on you one day and threaten you and take your lunch money and push you around. Sometimes he sticks your head in a toilet, too, but only when he’s feeling particularly bold. Fortunately, even though he’s annoying, all you have to do is stop taking his guff and stand up to him or push him down a hill or something and he’ll take his guff elsewhere.
On the worst days, it seems like writer’s block is like Superman or the Death Star: a mighty, unstoppable force out to crush Nazis or the Rebel Alliance depending on which simile you want to run with. Either way, writer’s block has one weakness, a serious design flaw that apparently no one thought to address. No matter how many times the two of you meet in battle, you know that the solution will always be the same. For Superman, it’s Kryptonite. For the Death Star, it’s explosives in vital system components. For writer’s block, the most reliable plan of attack is to write, and the best part is, you never truly have nothing to write about, because even if writer’s block shuts everything else out, you can write about writer’s block itself. In the immortal words of Han Solo, “Let’s blow this thing and go home.”
Take that, Super Deathman Star!
Kryptonite torpedoes away!
Before I came to college, I had a passing knowledge of deadlines at best. To me, deadlines were an ideal, a time when it would be nice to have something finished if you could. Of course, some deadlines have always been more important than others, but on a whole the idea of a time limit didn’t stick with me very well. Twenty-four hours a day seemed like all the time in the world. As it turns out, twenty-four is a pretty small number in the grand scheme of things, and those hours will run away from you faster than you thought possible. Most deadlines at school are enforced pretty heavily, so I had plenty of incentive to get down to business. There are a few things, however, for which I have to set my own deadlines, and if I don’t get very specific with how I’m going to spend my time, those are inevitably the deadlines that I throw out onto the side of the road to be picked up by thrifty folks or run over by eighteen-wheelers. Since that’s not particularly kind to the poor deadlines, and I almost always miss them sorely after I leave them behind, I’m putting forth some effort to rescue these three neglected deadlines at school:
1. Writing Projects. This encompasses the blog, but it also covers my book from November and my upcoming script in April. I need to write, and I need to stop sitting down to do it at the last second. Not only will it improve the quality of my posts, it will improve the quantity of my extracurricular writing, which is at about a zero right now. I need an hour or so every day, or maybe even an entire day each week devoted to getting all of the ideas in my head out onto paper. Maybe that will help me stop muttering plot ideas and character lines to myself and climbing random objects around campus to stimulate my imagination. Then again, maybe that’s just a permanent quirk.
2. Laundry. I’m always forgetting to fold my clean laundry and wash my dirty laundry at the proper times. This is not a big deal, but it does get frustrating having to dig through a hamper of clean clothes to find a pair of matching socks at 7:00 A.M. The main problem is probably that I expect it to take longer than it really will. In my mind, what is five minutes of low-intensity folding in real life becomes an hour and a half of difficult lifting, folding, sorting, moving, and bending the laws of physics with nothing but my mind and a fabric softener sheet. Or I might just tear holes in a fabric softener sheet while imagining that it’s the space-time continuum. I seem to remember that being very entertaining back in the day.
3. Sleep. This is the big one. As it turns out, time doesn’t stop when you go unconscious. You will feel it the next day if you stay up until 3:30 A.M. working on projects and such. I’ve found that getting enough sleep helps me to keep all of my other deadlines, pay more attention to what people are saying, stay focused on the task at hand, and not run into things as often. Also, it’s good for keeping those distracting blue flying rhombuses away. Those guys are annoying.
What’s something that you often forget to do, or that gets pushed out of your schedule a lot? And do you think of yourself as more of a scheduled person or a seat-of-the-pants type? Leave your answer in the comments below, and I’ll be here with a song of the week tomorrow. Sleep well!