Monthly Archives: November 2005

And the Moral of the Story Is: Never Use Your First Draft

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I read one of my previous posts, and boy, do I need to edit! Sheesh. I can tell I just wrote and posted. Maybe I need to write, save as a draft, then edit and publish it. I’ve got a big day of housework planned tomorrow, but I’m gonna have a go at editing on Friday.

It’s funny how God is teaching me how to do the writer thing through blogging. I feel like I’m on a journey of self-discovery in a way. I don’t know if that’s interesting to anybody else in the world, but that’s all I got right now. I’m going through a lot of spiritual upheaval. My faith is changing and growing, but in a direction I didn’t even know was possible.

I think that once I get through whatever this is, I will know what direction to take in my writing. I actually thought about non-fiction, but I’m not famous, I don’t have a degree in anything, and I’m not consistently funny enough to do humor. I’m not an expert on anything, either. I have a lot of opinions, and some pretty extensive experience in being a wife and mother [10 years married and 8 years mommy, unless you count the years for all three, then it’s fifteen, which sounds more impressive, don’t you think?]

Okay, so anyway, I’m searching, and hoping to find something interesting to talk about for tomorrow’s post, because this is boring even me…

Later…

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A Yo-Yo Day

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Well, today was an interesting day. I started out happy. I e-mailed friends, cleaned out my e-mail address book. I read blogs, news articles, more blogs, and mostly sat in front of the computer all day.

Bad idea.

By the time George got home from work [he’s back on days again], I was depressed, pissed off at everything that moved, and generally not much fun to be around. I think the pixels fried my brain. I stayed grumpy until after the kids were in bed. Then we watched an Adam Sandler movie. I can’t help it, I like Adam Sandler movies. Even the ones I look at and think, “No way, that’s the dumbest premise for a movie I’ve ever seen,” I end up liking. It may very well speak badly of my taste in movies, but there you go.

I also love the fact that he puts his friends in every single movie he does. Loyalty is important to me, and he seems to have it, so I like him.

After the movie, I was happy again.

Which makes me wonder: Can you be bi-polar if you have mood swings like this all in one day? Probably not. [Actually, I looked it up… Isn’t the ‘net a great thing, and the answer is no, the swings have to last one to two weeks.] But anyway, it was a hellish day.

Today is the first day since I started blogging that I didn’t really want to do it. But here I am, slogging through. I need this, and I won’t give up. I’m still working through stuff, trying to figure out where I belong and what I should be doing [as far as writing goes]. This is a strange path of self-discovery for me, which is not exactly what I had in mind to put out in cyberspace for every one to see. But who knows, maybe some one will stumble upon this site and read something familiar and not feel so alone.

Then again, maybe not. You just never can tell about these things, can you?

The Beginning Is Now

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I spent most of the day trying to figure out what I want to talk about next. I was supposed to get a couple of new books yesterday at church, but I didn’t get a chance to get them because my kids were having a meltdown. So, today, I kept coming back to my writing.

Specifically, my fiction. I have three novels that I started but couldn’t finish for various reasons. I think the main reason is self-doubt. I am annihilating that one even as I type this. Through this blog, I am learning that it doesn’t really matter what I write about, as long as I write something, and as long as I’m honest. I may be full of crap, but I can guarantee you that I’m speaking the truth as I see it.

On the technical side, I’ve learned that it takes me about two hours to write one of these, and that they average between 700 and 900 words each. That does include editing, but my editing process for blog posts consists of a spell check with a glance at punctuation and grammar. I may not be perfect at it, but this is how I speak in real life, and that’s the tone I’m going for. I think I have a fair grasp of the English language, and I am learning every day how to convey emotion through the written word [y’all let me know how I’m doin’ okay?].

What I’ve been pondering today, though, is: What the heck do I want to write?

The books I’ve begun are fantasy [which I love to read]. The first one, I went completely organic, just writing as I went. About 8,000 words in, I fell into these huge plot holes, and couldn’t find my way out.

The second one, I went with the Marshall Plan for novel writing. I plotted about half of it, and then started writing from the beginning using my handy-dandy novel sheets. I think I got distracted from that one, but also, after I had planned out and written down everything that was going to happen in the scene [without actually writing it in manuscript form] I felt like I had written it already. I also started changing things as I wrote the actual manuscript, which rendered useless over half of my novel sheets for later in the book. So it ended up being an exercise in futility.

The third one was my NaNoWriMo entry. I tried, but never really got past the starting gate on that one. I will probably try it again next November, but for this year, I’m done.

I liked all the ideas for my novels, but I hit a brick wall with all three. So, I’m trying to figure out what that block is. Several contributing factors come to mind, though. They may all go back to one root cause, but here goes.

1. Until now, I have not set apart time every single day to write. My kids are seven, four, and two, but there are a lot of professional [female] writers who have young kids and manage just fine. I think that I have not prioritized my writing as I should have. It’s been more of a ‘when I feel like it’ kind of thing and I’m here to tell you, it doesn’t work. I’ve been manufacturing guilt feelings, thinking I’m a bad mom if I take the time I need to do this.

I’m also very disorganized, and a little scatterbrained when it comes to house work, so I feel guilty if I’m writing when I think I should be cleaning [which I almost never do, so the writing never gets done, either.] Lord ‘o mercy, got neuroses?

2. There’s the fear of failure thing. What if I suck? What if I send it off and get a letter back saying, “This is positively the worst drivel I’ve ever seen! What were you thinking, you nitwit?” [yeah, I know that wouldn’t happen, but I’m wallowing here, so cut me some slack!]

3. Then there’s this evil woman who has lived in the back of my brain for as long as I can remember. She talks too much, and says stuff like this: You suck. You’re lazy. You never finish anything. Writing is work, and you have never worked at anything else in your life, you always give up when it gets hard, remember? [then she spews a long list of every failure, real or imagined, in my life.]

Yup. I’m thinking it’s time to kill the b****, what do you think?

Let’s give her a name. It can’t be mine, because while she’s part of me, she’s a damaged part that isn’t the real me.

When I was in the seventh grade, I had a friend who called me snelby. I hated it. It made me feel degraded because she always said it with this snide nasal tone, and I never could get her to stop.

Wow, I had forgotten feeling that way, but it’s all right here, and I think that could be where Negative Girl might have come from. Anyway, I always felt degraded, put down, made fun of, and so small and helpless with those people who were supposed to be my friends. I don’t know what the motivation was for them to act that way, and I don’t know why I put up with it[looking back, you’d think I would have found some different friends, wouldn’t you?].

So anyway, let’s call her Snelby, because that name encompasses all the pain of my childhood, always trying, but never quite fitting in. I don’t think we have to kill Snelby. I think we have to heal her broken heart. And we have to forgive the people who hurt her, because whatever their reasons, it wasn’t something wrong with me. It was a broken place in their own hearts.

I forgive you, my school friends,
For hurting the fragile child that I was.
I forgive you, “Snelby,”
For believing the lies they told.
You were never stupid,
Or ugly,
Or unworthy of support,
Love, and success.
Take back your power, child.
The beginning is now.

We’ve Come Full Circle

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Tonight before bed, my seven year old daughter read “Green Eggs and Ham,” by Dr. Seuss. She did beautifully, and made me remember all the nights my husband and I read that very book to her when she was a baby. She recited it and “One Fish, Two Fish,” before she turned two [picture a tiny little girl with huge round eyes, a rosebud mouth, and wild, ringlet curls saying, “Dat Sammy am, Dat Sammy am, I not like dat Sammy am,” in a voice so high pitched it made the dogs howl. She sounded like a munchkin on helium.]

When she got older, she got sick of Dr. Seuss, and we were despondent. Hubby and I are life long fans of the great Doctor, and sometimes we would refuse to let her or my son pick the bedtime book because we wanted Seuss, dang it, and they never picked him! Sometimes we made the children suffer one more rendition of One Fish, Two Fish, or Fox In Socks [complete with voices, supplied with great vigor, by my husband] “just for old time’s sake,” [probably a good two years’ therapy, right?]

And tonight, after she had finished reading, she said, “Mom, I think I love this book!”
Glory be! It’s a good day, my friends, a good day indeed.

[Drum roll] The Final Installment of Where Do We Go From Here?

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Okay, I’m pretty much done with this, but there was one more thing that struck me about “The Story We Find Ourselves In” by Brian D. McLaren. [If you’re interested, previous posts about this book are as follows: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4.]

The episodes of the story of God and humans are:
Ep. One: Creation: God creates the universe

Ep. Two: Crisis: Humans decide they don’t need to keep the boundaries God has set and sin[evil] enters the world.

Ep. Three: Calling or Conversation: God calls Abraham into a relationship with him and then speaks to the Israelites through priests, prophets, poets and philosophers.

Ep. Four: Christ. The most important part and the one I’ve spent the least time on. [something not quiet right there, I know] Jesus came to earth to show us, through his ministry and teachings, how to live. He was betrayed by the human race, who cared more about their own selfish desires than what he was trying to teach. He threatened their self-righteous, self serving beliefs and they killed him for it. But in the end, he won, because three days after he was buried, he rose from the dead, whole, healthy and real.

When we choose to follow Jesus, we become his disciples, which is just a fancy word for student. Then we become apostles [although I think a lot of people forbid use of that word for people today… Not sure why, which probably means it’s some tradition started umpteen hundred years ago..*rant off*] apostle is just a fancy word for teaching student.

It’s like Jesus is a master violinist. People come to him wanting to learn his method of the violin. He teaches us, then he sends us out and we begin to teach others. We’re teaching others to play the master’s music in the master’s way. But what if he expects us to also become composers, too? Then we would still be creating music in his tradition, but adding our own flair and style to it.

Isn’t that what happened with all the writers of the Bible? I mean, they were inspired to tell the story by God, but they were allowed [even encouraged] to use their own words, their own style and personality. And that’s kind of what we’ve done with Christianity today, what with all our denominations and stuff. You’ve got Baptists, Catholics, Methodists, Nazarenes [and a bunch of others I don’t know how to spell!] they’ve all got a different spin on the same story, don’t they?

But ultimately, we’re all pretty much the same at the core.

Ep. Five: Community. Here is something I have secretly thought in my heart of hearts for years, but was afraid to talk about because I just knew someone would think I was a heretic. God is not enough. Holy crapoly, Batman! Here comes the lightning! But really, He isn’t. I know we all [Christians, anyway] talk about God’s grace being sufficient and how we don’t need any one but God, and all that other gobbledygook that has crept into our language.

I think it got there partly because when you really find God, He changes your whole life. Turns it upside down sometimes. So it makes sense that, with that kind of overhaul, and that kind of natural high, you feel invincible.

And, unfortunately, it also crept into our collective belief system, because at the core, we all want to feel special, to feel like we’re better than other people. So when I look at someone who is grieving and floundering without their loved one, or another person who hangs out with a group of friends that isn’t good for them, but they can’t seem to get out of the situation, I can say to myself [and a lot of us say it to the person in trouble] “I have my God and He’s all I need. You just need to give it to God, and He’ll make you strong.”

The fact is, we need each other, too. God does give immeasurable strength to those who need it. But most times, he uses other people to give us that strength. Me and God against the world isn’t enough. I need friends to prop me up when I can’t stand on my own. If you’re alone, reach out to God, but also reach out to people. And if the first person you meet is a big fat jerk, reach out to some one else. It’s too important not to.

Oh yeah, Episode six is called Consummation. That’s when we die and go to be with Jesus. And that part, my friends, is truly just the beginning of the adventure!

Blog ya later!

Where Do We Go From Here part 4

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Yes, it really is part four, but the end [of this tangent, anyway] is near, I promise. If you’re interested, parts one, two, and three are here, here, and here. The next part is the Calling. Specifically, when God called Abraham into a covenant with him. In essence, God promised Abe that he would make a great nation out of Abe’s seed, and Abe promised to obey God and follow him [you know, I wonder if this is like the red and blue pills in Matrix, and if Abraham ever wished he’d chosen to stay in the matrix…er, you know what I mean! I know I would have about the time God said “circumcision.”]

God says,

“I will make you into a great nation

and I will bless you;

I will make your name great,

and you will be a blessing.

I will bless those who bless you,

and whoever curses you I will curse;

and all peoples on earth

will be blessed through you.” Genesis 12:2-3

“I will bless you, and you will be a blessing.” Hmm. McLaren says in his book:

“When religions assume that their adherents are chosen only to be

blessed, and forget that they are blessed to be a

blessing, they distort their identity and they drift from God’s

calling for them… when they see themselves as blessed to the exclusion

of others rather than for the benefit of others, they become part of the

problem instead of part of the solution.” [McLaren p64]

Later, they talk about the part that says He will bless those who bless Abe’s people, and curse those who curse his people. McLaren defines blessing someone as expressing love and support for that person. Cursing is defined as withdrawing that love and support. So God isn’t saying that He’s gonna destroy anyone who stands in His way, just that if anyone doesn’t support and love Abraham, then He will not support and love those people. The book goes on to say:

“Anybody who opposes the general direction of creating good, of helping the world become

better not worse… would be working against God, kind of unmaking

or uncreating the world that God has been making, [or] destroying God’s work… and of course,

God would be against that.” [p67]

This is so fascinating to me, because this definition of good encompasses everything positive, not just trying to preach the gospel and convert people [like Christians sometimes believe], and evil is everything that damages or destroys part of God’s creation, including the plants and animals, but also the people in it. And we each have to choose whether we will help God create His world, or whether we will work against Him and try to destroy it.

Another thing that is so exciting to me is that we are co-creators with God. Artists, musicians, and writers are the most visible about this, but we all create things in our own lives, whether consciously or not. This is profound for me because I’ve always been led to believe that God is the Creator and we are just His creation. Maybe not puppets, but certainly not anything worthy of the title creator. I thought that ideas only came from God, and He only gave them out to ‘special’ people, and that He was the one who controlled everything that happened to me. But I’m thinking that maybe we really do create our own destiny. That maybe the only choice we have to make is whether to serve Him [by co-creating the world He dreamed of when He made us], or to serve evil [aka Satan] and destroy it. And once we choose to serve Him, where we go from there and how well we do our job is up to us.

It’s up to us, but we are not left to muddle through alone. I think He is there to help us every step of the way, if we ask Him to. I think He’s more than happy to help us figure out what we want to create, maybe helps us see our potential in a given area. But ultimately, how far we go to reach that potential is up to us.

So, we are all called into a relationship with God. When we enter this relationship, we become co-creators with Him, creating the world of His dreams [which I can guarantee you is far more wonderful than we can imagine!]

Woo Hoo!! Okay, I’m done for now. Blog ya later!

The Zen of Stand By Me

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Okay, this is weird, but growing up, my favorite movie of all time was “Stand By Me,” based on a short story, “The Body,” by Stephen King. The summer after my seventh grade year, I saw Stand By Me for the first time. Something about the movie resonated with me on a level that was almost spiritual. I was always a weird kid, so I watched it over and over. In just three months, I managed to watch that movie almost 90 times [total count was 83 or so]. Yup, I had the whole freakin’ thing memorized. My classmates didn’t get it, but they talked about it quite a bit.

Just in case you’ve never seen it, Stand By Me was a story of four friends who go on a trek out in the woods to find the body of a dead kid who was probably hit by a train. One of the characters [Vern, played by a chubby Jerry O’Connell] overhears his older brother talking about seeing the body of the missing kid [Ray Braur was his name, I think, but keep in mind I haven’t seen the move in 15 years or so]. So Vern goes back to his friends and tells them. They decide that if they find the kid, they’ll be heroes and get their names in the paper. So, they pool their money, go by some food and head out.

Vern is the good-natured, slightly goofy kid who gets made fun of a lot. Gordie, [played by Wil Wheaton], is the sensitive one who makes up awesome stories about barf-o-ramas and other interesting topics. He The story is told from the adult Gordie’s perspective as he’s remembering and writing it down. Then there’s Teddy, [played by Corey Feldman] who is crazy. He comes from a dysfunctional family, and his father is in a mental hospital for almost burning Teddy’s ear off by holding it to a hot stove. And finally, there’s Chris Chambers, [played by River Phoenix]. Chris is the bad boy who never had a chance. He comes from a bad family, his older brother is a delinquent, and he believes he will never get out of the town they live in.

The story was so powerful to this 12 year old girl. I had to watch it over and over. I wanted that movie to be my life. Not the dead kid part, but the four friends taking on the world part. I could relate most to Gordie. Sensitive, skinny, and a little weird. I never felt like my friends ‘got me’ like Gordie’s friends got him. I just remember wanting friends like that more than anything. To belong to a group that alone, were weak, but together, could take on the world. A group that would embrace me in spite of [and because of] my weirdness. Friends who would encourage me to be the best I could be and not put me down or make me feel inferior. I never had anything like that [from friends] growing up. Somehow, I was the one who got made fun of in whatever group of friends I had at the time. If I was one on one with a person in the group, things went fine, but if we were all together, the others would usually gang up on me about something.

That may not actually be what happened, but that’s how I felt. I never really found anyone I connected with. So when I found a movie that had what I wanted so desperately in my own life, I kinda went overboard with it. Those characters became almost more real to me than the people in my own life. As I said before, I felt like I could relate most to how Gordie felt, but Chris was my favorite, and therefore, River Phoenix became my favorite actor.

Looking back, I have to giggle. For an entire year, I thought about nothing but River Phoenix. I even wrote school reports on him! My eighth grade English teacher [Mr. Cox… I still remember you!] gave me more crap about being in love with River. And I’m sure I was beyond annoying. I wanted to move to Hollywood and become an actress so I could meet him and marry him. For a whole year, this obsession went on, then it was over. The next year when I came back to school, Mr. Cox asked me why I wasn’t carrying around pictures and talking about River anymore. I said, “I grew up.” He asked me, “Well, why wasn’t I notified about this?” I looked him in the eye and said, “Because it’s none of your business.” For a moment, my classmates were in awe of me.

But here’s the weirdness about this whole story [no, really, what you just read isn’t it]. I kept track of those four actors who played my best friends for a year. In the movie, Chris grows up and makes good, but dies horribly. In 1993, the year after I graduated high school, River Phoenix died of a drug overdose outside the Viper Room nightclub, owned by Johnny Depp.
The character Teddy spends time in jail and has a hard time adjusting to life… Corey Feldman got into trouble with the law for abusing drugs. Vern grows up to be a pretty normal guy, which I think Jerry O’Connell has done, and last I read was engaged to Rebecca Romijn. That may have changed by now, being Hollywood, but there you go. And last but not least, Gordie grew up to become a writer, and guess what? Wil Wheaton has gone and become a writer! So you see, there are some odd coincidences with the movie.

I don’t know if that’s actually Zen or not, since I’m not sure what the heck that means, but I’m done for now, so I’ll blog ya later!