Friday, February 29, 2008

This course stinks!

There's been a lot of talk about the rules of writing lately. When I explain some of them to my non-writer friends they are usually surprised by how complicated and subtle they are. They also question the validity or value of following the rules (or as I like to call them: the guidelines).

As my friend (and writing teacher), Donna Fleisher, taught me: there is a difference between writing a story and writing a novel. Most beginners have a good story in mind when they decide to "become a writer". They just haven't yet learned how to put it in novel form. So I don't really hold it against a newbie for going through a brief period of rebellion against the rules, the snobs who made them, and the publishing cabal that propagates their required adherence. But it must be a brief period or he is lost.

You don't just become a writer - you learn the skills involved. The rules (guidelines) were not created in a vacuum. They were cultivated by professionals over years of experience through trial and error.

At some point, the new writer needs to accept this and embrace the guidelines as a gift from those who have gone before him.

I once heard a story about Jack Nicklaus (the man Tiger Woods is chasing in the record books).

He said that before a tournament he knew who is competition would be that week just by listening to the other players exchange their ruminations about the course. Anyone who complained about the course, he scratched off the list. They were not going to win.

As a fan of golf, it has occurred to me that I've never heard Tiger Woods complain about a golf course or the playing conditions. Whether it's a links style, old style, straight style, or target style course, he always says the same thing - "I love this type of course. It's gonna be a good test and I'm looking forward to the challenge."

So, you can either complain about the course and watch Tiger Woods raise yet another trophy or you can embrace the course, welcome the challenge to learn the skills required to navigate it, and one day watch Tiger Woods (or someone else) buy your novel in your local bookstore.

Easy choice for me.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Alright, I'll play this time . . .

Today I've been tagged by my friend Janet Rubin (or, as her millions of fans will know her by: J.L. Rubin) to participate in a game of blog tag.

The Rules:

1. Pick up the nearest book (of at least 123 pages).
2. Open the book to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the next three sentences.
5. Tag five people.So, here's mine:

Well, I was going to be a smart alec and use my book. But I turned to the appropriate passage and it stunk. So here's the real, and surprisingly, good one:

and when I am finally unremembered maybe then i too can forget that this world is what it seems to be: a hurtful, hateful place where people carve apart souls from the bodies of men and women and children. and themselves. until in ultimate hypocrisy they scapegoat God judging him as guilty for the wicked, wounded world their very hands have made.

From Sinner by Sharon Carter Rogers.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

On Being a Writer . . .

Ever feel this way?

A person who publishes a book willfully appears before the populace with his pants down . . . If it is a good book nothing can hurt him. If it is a bad book, nothing can help him.

- Edna St. Vincent Millay

Hmmm . . . I wonder where I stand?

Monday, February 18, 2008

Maybe this will help . . .

I'm a member of a small writer's group. One of our members, Myrna, writes beautiful poetry. Saturday, she shared samples of her new collection of tankas. I had never heard of this form before but I was instantly drawn to it. If you're not familiar with it, it consists of five lines following a syllable count of 5,7,5,7,7. From what I understand they don't rhyme and usually try to capture a moment in time.

Okay, okay, I'll get to the point. I'm a very literal person. I'm a musician who can't write songs. Song lyrics are tough for me because I have trouble with the poetic license needed. This problem bleeds over into novel writing. I tend to say exactly what I mean instead of finding a fresh indirect way of getting the idea across. So, as an excercise, I will try to write a few of these. Here's my first attempt:

Clouds of mist and rain
Barren fields all but dead
Life from water flows
Blood from the lamb washes clean
Love on the cross all I need

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Apprehensive worship . . .

The following song was played several times during the 07 ACFW conference. I couldn't bring myself to sing along. In fact, I felt very uncomfortable just standing there listening to it.

The lyrics come across as a little self-important to me. Who are we to demand what Jesus is thinking or feeling? I have to assume the lyrics are based on scripture, so I'd like to give the author the benefit of the doubt.

Can anyone help me with this one?

Jesus, here I am your favorite one,
what are you thinking, what are you feeling, I have to know
And I am after your heart,
I'm after your heart,
I'm after you
And I'll crown you with my love

Friday, February 15, 2008

Christian athletes . . .

Yesterday, Jason Elam of the Denver Broncos was on Fox News pushing his new Christian novel - Monday Night Jihad

Well, I'm not going to root for the Denver Broncos because of Jason Elam, but I will root for him.

For those of you who may not know, here are a few other athletes I do root for because they are not only Christian, but they actively work to spread the gospel:

Aaron Baddely - Golf ----- His website has a faith section.
Zach Johnson - Golf ----- He doesn't have a website, but the Master's champion took the oppurtunity to give the glory of his victory to his Lord - Jesus Christ.

Jeff Gordon - NASCAR ------ He links to a ministry on his website. By the way, if you've never watched a NASCAR race, watch the opening invocation one day. They always mention Jesus.

Danny Wuerffel - Former Saints quarterback ---- What I like about Danny is that he doesn't seem to care that he didn't "make it" as a starter in the NFL. He believes . . . Well, go here and read what he says about finding true fulfillment. You gotta love this guy.

I know there are others, but I gotta get back to work on my manuscript. Do you know any who fit this criteria?

sidenote: spellcheck ain't working and I don't have time to paste and copy from word.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Valentine's Day pet peeve . . .

Okay, I'll just say it - I hate Valentine's Day. And in the spirit of the holiday, may I add "I hate it with a passion."

The reason is that it has nothing to do with the "couple". It's not him and her - It's all about her and her friends. He can't just give her anything, it has to be something that she can show off or brag about. And the guy better come through or he's in for a lifetime of resentment.

The problem is, for the most part, that men are clueless about what this entails. It's an unfair expectation placed on males. They're out of their element. You may as well ask a Klan member to sculpt a statue of M.L.K. You probably won't like the results becuase you and the klan member would have a different idea of what a "tribute" to the civil rights leader should look like.

This explains why corporations take advantage of male ignorance on this issue and actually sell those silly Vermont bears. Most men don't know any better and they're grasping at straws.

To the male logic, a gift given to a significant other out of cultural extortion has no meaning and he'd rather not do it. However, women place enormous value on the guy doing what is socially expected.

Tip for you ladies: You want to know how your hubby really feels about you. Look at some of the practical things he does for you. Works at a job he can't stand. Always makes sure your car is in good working order. If he's constantly checking your oil and anti-freeze, putting on new wipers, checking your tires, etc, that is more meaningful to him than giving you flowers on V-day. Does he hold your purse while you're shopping? (trust me - he hates this and only does it for one reason.)

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

More Gator pictures . . . (Reposted for Kay)

This monster was crossing a street near my home. 10-12 ft. long.

This little guy made me nervous. Momma had to be close by.
Camera shy?

Friday, February 8, 2008

Divine Intervention . . .

The tornado rampage killed 59 people. But according to one potential victim, it didn't kill 62 because God saved her family.

I'm always torn when this happens. On one hand, I'd like to believe her. The thought of God intervening in our lives is a great source of hope and a testament to the power and goodness of our Lord. But on the other hand, I hope it's not true.

When this particular person said, "It was God who saved her family", she also said to the families of those who did die: "God didn't save your family." At best, this comes across as arrogant to non-believers. At worst, this comes across as mean-spirited and she will be deemed an authentic representative of the simple-minded hick group of people who represent an antiquated and flawed philosophy called Christianity.

What did she do to deserve God's intervention? What did the others do not to deserve it?

I'm afraid I don't have the answer. All I can say is I believe God is just. We are only on this earth for a blink of an eye. This truth causes us to focus too much on this world. To put far more value in this brief moment than we do on eternity. There will come a day when the sorrows of this world will seem like an ancient bump in the road. Like when a baby cries because he dropped his bottle.

But until then, life does seem unjust, full of sorrow, and often times - meaningless. Therein lies the hope of knowing Christ. To trust in Him is the only way to bring beauty into the chaos of our lives spent here on Earth.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Today is Mardi Gras . . .

Or, as translated in English, Fat Tuesday - which means I have the day off. Yes, it's a holiday here. The city just about shuts down. Well, except for the 100,000 people who will line the streets of Houma to view the two parades.

I'd rather be somewhere else, but I'll take advantage of the day off and work on my manuscript.

Here's where I was last year: Note: ignore the date stamp. I didn't know it was on. It ruined these pictures and on top of that it's the wrong date.

Garden of the gods - Colorado Springs. February - 2007.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

More on Chelsea . . .

Chelsea did live a good life. Besides checkups, I never had to take her to the vet. She lived her whole life in comfort and had pretty much had her way.

She never tore anything up, was house-trained very early, and obeyed commands without fail.

I remember one time I told her to "stay" - for some reason I can't remember now (we were in the back bedroom). When I finished what I was doing, I went lay on the couch. About an hour later I heard her trademark "I need something" whimper. I looked down the hall and she was standing in the same spot she was when I told her to "stay". Needless to say, I felt terrible and gave her several pieces of cheese and plenty of attention to appease my guilt.

My only regret is that the scientific community never got a chance to study her. There's a theory that says animals are incapable of a creative thought. They simply act on instinct and application of chance observations. I truly believe Chelsea disproved this theory. Unfortunately, she may have been unique in this matter because I can't say the same thing about any of my other dogs. Including her son, Teddy. Who - bless his heart - is as lovable as can be, but he's not nearly as bright as his mother.

One more point: I think the sadness we feel is rooted in more than just our loss. It's because we can never give them as much love as they give us. They would love us 24/7 if they could. The only thing stopping them is they have to wait for us to give them the opportunity. The only thing Teddy wants in life is to be next to me.