Category Archives: Writing

Why I Hate The Phrase . . .

“God answered my prayer.”

People only say that when they get the answer they want and/or expect. What about the times when we don’t get the answer we want? Does that mean God didn’t answer it? That he turned a cold shoulder as a way of saying, “What a stupid prayer that was. Don’t waste my time.”

When we ask people for something and they say no, do we run around complaining that they didn’t answer?

No. Instead we say, “He said no.”

Same way with God. He answers all our prayers. Most of the time the answer is no, and that’s a good thing. We don’t always know what’s best for us, but God always does. I can look back at some of my more fervent prayers when God said no, and invariably I find out later he was right.

Instead of telling everyone, “God answered my prayer,” we need to say, “God said yes.” It works the other way as well. Instead of crying to everyone, “God didn’t answer my prayer,” we need to say, “God said no.”

And be thankful for it. God always says no for a reason, even if we won’t know that reason for a while, if ever.

That’s the definition of trust.

Addendum: I actually wrote this four years ago today. The program I use to write my journal/blog entries sends me automatic notices of past entries I’ve written on today’s date. It’s possible this same entry is on my blog, but I think it deserved a re-post.

Not Everything Needs to be Profound

Some of my best thoughts seem to come right after I go to bed, and far too often, I decide not to write it down, convinced I will remember it the next morning.

Yeah, right. Like that’s ever happened.

This time, however, I had a thought and decided that I must write it down. I am currently breaking one of my house rules — no electronics in the bedroom. I break it now only because I don’t want to get out of bed, turn on the light, and write it in a paper journal. I’ll have to rewrite it in my computer anyway, so waste the time (since I do enough of that already)?

I’ve been having trouble coming up with ideas for my blog.

I keep another blog on a different site. While lately I’ve been copying from this blog to that one, it was meant for more personal, daily life entries.

Tonight I decided to write “a day in the life” entry, and it felt good to do so. Nothing deep or profound, just some interesting things that happened.

I realized then that not all of my entries need to be profound. Lighter entries are okay, too. After all, people who read my blog do so, not only because I have opinions on certain issues, but to get to know personal things about me (not too personal, though, because, eww).

While I may not lead the most interesting life compared to some, that doesn’t mean it’s not worth sharing sometimes.

Especially the silly stuff, and I have plenty of those. Such as when I came down with a cold last year. I was so out of it, I went to work wearing two different shoes, and didn’t notice it until two hours later. Or when I warmed a breakfast sandwich at work. I accidentally set the microwave for ten minutes instead of one. It left a horrid smell in the entire building that lasted nearly two days, and no amount of Febreeze could cut through it.

I don’t mind sharing stories like that. I enjoy making people laugh, even at my own expense, because it keeps me humble.

When The Abyss Stares Back

When The Abyss Stares Back

I found this tweet the other day that I simply had to share:

Someone soon commented: “It works both ways. ‘I’m a plumber, but I didn’t work today. The pipes weren’t speaking to me.’”

I well know how on-point that analogy is, especially as a writer without the added benefit of deadlines.

While writers are more often than not passionate about writing, how is it we so easily succumb to the temptation to set it all aside due to “lack of inspiration?”

I do this all the time, and I don’t have an answer. If I were to guess, though, part of it is our love/hate relationship to writing. It’s one of the few skills out there that no matter how much we study and improve the craft, success or failure is entirely dependent on the subjective opinions of others. Including ourselves.

We are also an emotional lot, with extreme ups and downs. Sometimes we love what we write, and want to share it with everyone, and other days we want to burn that same story or article in the fireplace so no one will see how much we suck.

When we enter that “I suck” phase, writing becomes near impossible, and we lose all motivation to fight through it. It becomes a viscous downward spiral, and that blank page and blinking cursor morphs into a dark abyss that stares back. Waiting to devour.

I wrote the above this morning, and I have to admit I’m impressed at how I started with something humorous and ended up with something rather dark. Am I sorry. Nope, because that was my inspiration. I at least wrote something, so I can happily say I stuck my tongue out at the “I suck Abyss” and survived.

The Power of Words

I’ve always believed writing is one of the most noble skills out there. Books, both fiction and nonfiction, when done well, will never lose their relevance hundreds, sometimes thousands of years later. They can heal, inform, and inspire. They can bring light to those drowning in darkness.

Here is one such example of how a teacher’s small act of sharing a book with a student literally (see what I did there?) saved his life. Warning. You may need to keep a few tissues on hand.

Never underestimate the power of words — even your own.

Walk with Me

As I continue my search for an agent, I can’t help but feel a little worn down and wore out.

Each time I ask myself, “Am I wasting my time? This agent’s time?”

God has told me time and again to keep on keeping on. It will happen. Eventually. And since he knows, why won’t he tell me which agents to approach, and which agents to pass on by?

After all, if God means for people to read my words, why won’t he show me the right path at the outset instead of allowing me to take so many dark and winding detours?

In Luke 24, Jesus had just risen from the dead, but none of the remaining disciples believed it.

While two of them traveled to Emmaus (verses 13-35) Jesus joined them to discuss his death, resurrection, and how scripture predicted all of it.

They didn’t recognize him until later that night.

Jesus could have revealed himself and the truth of his resurrection the moment he joined them on the road, but he chose to journey with them, to talk with, and teach them.

For him — and the disciples — the journey was of equal importance to the destination. Perhaps even more. That, and as witnesses, they were afterward better armed with scripture to help other disbelievers believe.

The same is true for for all of us. We can’t be so anxious, eager, and rushed to reach our destination that we miss walking with God, and allowing him to teach us along the way.

Sure, I want to know right this instant which agent will be the best fit, but by jumping ahead, what will I miss along the way? Lessons learned, people met, and wisdom gained?

After all, this journey isn’t only about me, but others who are, and will go through the same thing. I can only be a witness if I make the journey right along with them.

Eyes Wide Open

When it comes to photography, I’m always keeping my eyes open for something interesting to photograph and share. I loved today especially, because it was cold, calm and foggy. Hoar frost abounded on the trees, grass and shrubs.

What normally takes me fifteen minutes to walk around a few blocks during my breaks almost doubled today, because I couldn’t get enough of the frost-coated — everything.

Unfortunately, I too often don’t have that kind of “eyes wide open” mentality when it comes to my writing — or even my faith at times.

I ran into a quote the other day: “If you wait for inspiration to write, you’re not a writer, you’re a waiter.” ~ Dan Poynter.

I also found something I had written years ago to keep me motivated: “Write fearless. Anything less, it shows, and the words inevitably stumble and fall.”

Fear holds me back. Fear of offense, of being misunderstood, of boring my readers, my how the list is long!

Some people call writing — whether fiction or non-fiction — their ministry. They write to bring people closer to God. It’s a calling like any other type of ministry.

I, on the other hand, don’t. To me writing is my form of worship. Do I want to encourage people with my words? Absolutely. I’ll even admit that I hope my words will bring others closer to God; to see his love and beauty as I do. I also believe writing is my calling, because as much as I may complain about quitting, I never will. I can’t. God won’t let me (and believe me, I’ve tried).

I hesitate to call it my ministry, because I stumble so much. I don’t know enough about Jesus, scripture, or faith in general to claim any kind of authority. I see ministry as a form of spiritual leadership, and because I too often don’t know what the heck I’m doing, I don’t want anyone to follow me. I’ll only make them stumble as much as I do, if not more.

That kind of thinking, however, limits God. If God wants me to reach others with my words — whether it’s this blog or my stories — then I have to put those words out there, and trust that they will reach the right people at the right time.

Taking hoar frost pictures on my phone during my morning break may give me joy, but no one else if I don’t share them. Joy was never meant to be hoarded (see what I did there?).

Jesus’ love is the same way. It must be shared, and I can’t fear offending, being misunderstood, or boring my readers (be aware, yes, because writing is also a skill that requires a lot of practice, but never afraid). Doing so only means I would rather keep my eyes closed, and prevent others from seeing what I see.

I am no good to God that way. He gives us our gifts not for ourselves alone, but for others who need them even more than we do.

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” ~ Matthew 5:14-16

Forlorn

That’s me.

First I saw this on Twitter:

Then I saw this:

I’ve also been watching “Runaways” on Netflix, and in episode 9, the Karolina character out of nowhere expressed her physical attraction to Nico by kissing her. I say out of nowhere because I saw nothing to indicate Karolina was attracted to anyone, let alone Nico.

It’s almost as if the writers sat down after episode seven and decided, “We need gay characters. Who should we pick?”

It seems we can’t watch a single movie or television show that doesn’t at least suggest one or more characters are gay, especially in the speculative genres. Even animated films geared to young children aren’t free of it (such as “How to Train Your Dragon 2”).

As a writer who wants to see my stories in print, I can’t help but wonder if I have wasted decades improving my craft. I don’t avoid writing gay characters; it’s that most of my characters aren’t gay. Nor will I make them gay simply because some want gay characters, even if it makes no sense, and doesn’t move the story forward. It’s an unnecessary distraction.

I’m also tired of agenda and politics-driven storylines, whether they’re pushing homosexuality or so-called climate change. I just want to read and write good stories with interesting characters.

Some might accuse me at this point of being a climate-change-denying homophobe.

To the first. Climate changes. That’s its nature. As for whether or not it’s all caused by Man, sorry. I haven’t seen enough evidence to convince me.

As for the homophobe accusation, the short answer is “no.” Truth is I couldn’t care less a person’s sexual preferences. I’ll say it again: I don’t care. No one will never make me care, and I wish they’d quit throwing it in my face. How do you think they would feel if someone walked up to them and said, “I’m heterosexual. I really like to kiss and have sex with the opposite sex. Now love and accept me, because if you don’t, you must be a heterophobe!”

But I digress. As a writer, what am I to do? Are there still enough people who don’t need or want to read about at least one gay character in every story whether it’s organic to the story or not? Or am I a social dinosaur where everything I write deserves to be tossed on the trash heap of the unenlightened and set on fire? Should I therefore give up, and take nature pictures instead? After all, no one can accuse me of being a name-your-phobia-du-jour for posting pictures of clouds.