Solitary Profession

As writers, our world is necessarily self-focused most of the time as writing is a solitary profession, and we are absorbed in creating the worlds and characters of our stories. That doesn’t give us the excuse though to treat people badly. And that also doesn’t give people who are interacting with authors over the Internet the excuse to treat them badly either.

Fortunately, I’ve not experienced a lot of that personally so far, but I’ve heard stories, and I wonder why, why people are not able to treat each other decently. I have some ideas. I think nowadays in general people are self-absorbed and are focused on the next big thing they can get for themselves. Our society promotes this, at least, in the United States it does, and I think it is very sad. Why can’t people be focused on achieving and on helping the people behind them?  There are people who do that, many of whom I’ve met, but, I believe, for society to experience real improvements, a lot more need to.

Hope everyone has a great weekend!

Until next time, be real!

Paying Attention

A full moon in the night sky, spring blossoms on trees, the sunlight shining through the window, well-crafted words. How many times do we stop and just pay attention? If you’re like me, you have to stop on purpose. Our society has accepted that everything comes instantly to us now–from having microwave ovens to having cell phones you can carry everywhere to going to a drive-through restaurant. When was the last time you actually stopped and paid attention to what was going on around you? Paid attention to the people around you? To the words you were saying? Or the words you were typing on the computer? It takes time to write words that are worthwhile to read, takes time to build relationships, either in real life or through the written word. Paying attention to the world around you can even bring topics to write about to the forefront of your mind.  So, the next time you’re tempted to be in a hurry, stop, and pay attention to world around you. You won’t be sorry.

Until next time, be real!

Book Review Time – The Cassandra Project

I am plodding through my pile of books at a slow and steady rate. The one I have just finished, The Cassandra Project by Jack McDevitt and Mike Resnick, is one I received as a Christmas present. I had to go dig it out of my older son’s room as a matter of fact because he had also expressed an interest in reading it.

Anyway, on to the review. This is one of my favorite kinds of books–a thriller with science fiction elements. It begins fifty years after the first moon landing where lack of interest in space exploration and budget cuts have affected the mission of NASA. Then, a secret is revealed about the first moon landing which takes the protagonists on a journey for the reasons behind said secret and how it affects them and the entire planet.

I give this book five stars! This is a tightly woven adventure that keeps you guessing until the final page and interweaves elements that you would totally not suspect. You get a sense of how things might have been back in that tumultuous time and how the present day characters in the book want to keep reaching for the stars. I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in either genre.

Enjoying the Journey

I read this quote by Bohemian-Austrian novelist and poet Rainer Maria Rilke this morning in my writing inspiration book before things got rather frantic in my house.

“Have patience with everything that remains unsolved in your heart. Try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books written in a foreign language.”

To me, this symbolizes enjoying the journey and not wishing for it to be over sooner than it needs to be. This does work well with writing and watching your children grow, for example. However, I ended up in the oral surgeon’s office this afternoon with my husband as he needed to have his tooth pulled because of an infection. I most certainly didn’t enjoy that journey and was glad when it was over. LOL For the most part though, I do my best to enjoy the journey of life because each of us only has one life to live, and I want to make the most of it.

Until next time, be real!

A Writing Prompt to End the Week

Sometimes topics just don’t flow for those of us who are writers so I decided to look in my handy-dandy writing book for a prompt to write about today. Here’s the prompt:

Write about a teacher or mentor who changed your life, for either good or bad.

I have many people who have changed my life over the years so it was hard to pick just one. But, one I did. Here’s my story.

 

A SECOND MOTHER

    A second mother, that is what Carolyn Mitchell is to me. I met Carolyn over 25 years ago and was immediately cognizant of her motherly appearance and the warmth of her smile which shined like a rainbow. Her Southern accent was enthusiastic as she welcomed me, a college student, to her church. She was always pushing her wide-rimmed glasses up on her face which framed her bright, blue eyes and seemed to have boundless energy with her groups at church.

     She was always on the go, but she made time for me and welcomed me into her family. I have never seen her be unwelcoming to anyone, always willing to give a hug, always willing to share the love of Christ with anyone who came across her path. Her home was a ministry where she cooked and showed her gift of hospitality. For the longest time, I would smell a home-cooked meal and think of Carolyn.

    Her family meant everything to her. After her family though, the question she would ask of people who came across her path was, “What can I do to help you?” If she could do something, it would get done; a lot of times without the knowledge of the person involved. There were many who were like family to her, and I felt privileged to be among those people. As the years passed, I met the man who became my husband, and we had two children. Since I was a part of her family, they became a part of her family with her insisting that our boys call her and her husband Grandma Carolyn and Grandpa David.

    I moved away from the town we both lived in eighteen years after we met. Her blonde, curly hair had begun to gray, and her movements were not as quick as they once had been. I knew that we would always be welcome though, and when we would visit in the intervening years, it seemed as nothing had changed with her warm smile and light lilting Southern accent always representing home to us.

    Six years later, we moved back to the same state. When my mother-in-law passed away, Carolyn’s  talents in the kitchen were shown on our behalf once more, and the smells and sounds of what she represented warmed our hearts as we grieved our loss.

    We lived in our old town for two years before unemployment forced us to move again. On our last weekend there, Carolyn took me to a laundromat to wash clothes, and I was struck once again about the consistency she had given to our lives. Never changing, always there, and asking what she could do to help us.  Her hair had gotten grayer; she cooked in a more healthy manner; and her movements reflected the sixty-year old woman she had become. But she still had the same welcoming smile, the same bright blue eyes, the same willingness to show God’s love to whoever she came in contact with.

 

 

Bullying

This is a word that can engender all kinds of reactions nowadays. Not only does the bullying not stop when the school day is over, it can have long-lasting effects that last for years or even permanently in the cases of the kids who just can’t take any more abuse and commit suicide. And then we have adults on both sides of the issue. The parents of the children who are doing the bullying who don’t believe their child is doing anything wrong, and the parents of the bullied child who can’t get any help from school officials or any other adults to stop the bullying. Or there are parents who actively support the bullying saying that the bullied child deserves it. I had not been keeping up with the Steubenville, Ohio story so I was horrified to hear the stories of what happened when the verdict was announced. About how there were two boys whose lives had been ruined. How about the girl who had been raped? What about her life? Why weren’t people calling to account these boys’ behavior? I made the comment at a couple of different places on the Internet that this was something my husband and I wouldn’t tolerate from our boys.

Honestly though, I shouldn’t be surprised. What’s sad to me is that society has tacitly approved this behavior even with all the efforts to stop it. Being different is not accepted. We’re all supposed to be the same. Watching people being abused in some form or fashion has become commonplace in many different kinds of media. Bullying is one of the reasons my children were pulled from public school. Making fun of a child who was small for his age was just something that was expected and something he shouldn’t have been sensitive about. I said, ‘Hogwash.’  We pulled them both from public school to homeschool them and haven’t looked back. It took him a solid year before he felt better about himself.

I was bullied myself in middle school. It was a long time ago, but I remember the words that were said as clear as day, and what happened affects me to this day.  Why though do you not hear about those cases from long ago? Can it be said that efforts to regulate behavior were more successful? That parents and the educational system supported each other and didn’t tear each other down? It’s hard to know. What I do know is that all of us need to do a better job of treating each other like we would want to be treated. I think this world would be a better place if we could.

Until next time, be real!

When Things Go Badly

Time for another excerpt of Blogging from the Ballpark. Last night, each of my sons had a ballgame, and because of the scheduling, I was able to attend both of them. One game was at 5:30, and the other game was at 8:00. My younger son’s game started off well. Several of his teammates got hits, and they leaped out to a 5-0 lead. The other team then switched pitchers, and the rest of the game was more of a pitchers’ duel than anything else with each team just getting a few hits and not much change in the score. This changed though with the final inning. Mistakes started to be made, and the other team took advantage of them with the final score being 8 – 7 in the other team’s favor.

We left that game and headed for my older son’s game. There wasn’t a lot of expectation for his team to do well because we had gotten scheduled to play an A league team while we are a B league team. This was because there were only four teams available during this first week of spring break for my area, and we were the ones that drew the A league team. Sure enough, by the time my younger son and I had arrived, the game had already started, and the other team was leading 9-0. You could tell they were a good team and a team that was made up of seniors. The game went on, and the other team continued to score runs. By the third inning, they had scored 22 runs. At that point, the mercy rule came into effect, and the game was over.

Now, both of these situations were situations that ended up going badly. Do you quit when things go badly? Some people do. They don’t like it when things aren’t going well, and they don’t have the heart to continue. Did my sons’ teams quit? They didn’t. They tried their hardest even when things were looking the bleakest. I could see the comparison to writing easily as I watched them play. It can take a long time to get good at writing. It can take even a longer time to get published if that is what your goal is, but if you don’t try, even when things are going the worst, it will never happen.

Here’s to trying even when things go badly.

Until next time, be real!

Being a Servant Leader

I get ideas for posts for this blog from many different places, and when I saw the title of my post featured in my devotion earlier this morning, I thought, that would be a perfect thing to talk about.

So, what exactly is a servant leader? If you’re reading in the New Testament of the Bible, you would eventually get to the part where Jesus washed his disciples’ feet. This was a way He served them because this was a task usually left to the lowest servant. The disciples were surprised by His actions because they thought He was actually going to establish an earthly kingdom and rule over Israel and were thinking He was going to behave as a king does. They didn’t understand what was going to happen.

In the contemporary realm, people usually think of leaders as being far above them, not having a relationship with them, and not having any input into what the leader is trying to accomplish. Servant leaders are not leaders who are far above the people they are leading. I have seen many times, with servant leaders, that they share the credit for their successes with the people they are leading. If credit for the successes is shared, the people who are being led have more of a stake in what is being done and will be more likely to assist the servant leader.

Now, what does that have to do with writing? Well, ever since I’ve gotten back into writing in a big way, I have met a lot of people who are further along in their writing careers. They’ve had things published and are known in the writing world. You would think, because they are known, that they’ve forgotten where they’ve come from and think they are above everyone else.

Now, I can’t say this unilaterally of all people in the profession, of course. For the writers I’ve met though, they have all, to a fault, been generous with their time and words of wisdom. As I’ve said before, writers have a sense of community, and I think, a sense of servant leadership.

Until next time, be real!

The Gift

Over the last few days, I have realized that the writing gift I’ve been given was present in my bloodline before I was born. As I’ve read my grandmother’s memoir, I’ve come to see that she had a talent for many of the elements of good writing such as description and character development. It’s almost like traveling back in time as I’ve read what the Norfolk/Chesapeake, Virginia area was like in the World War 1 era.

With one of the introductions though, it was made clear that this memoir, especially the third part, was almost not written. Why was this the case? Well, the third part contained a lot of pain that my grandmother went through, and she even stated that some things were not included because of this pain. Writing is a deeply personal thing, and with things that are deeply personal, there is the opportunity for pain. I think that’s why the gift of writing is denied sometimes because people don’t want to dig that deep to find the pain. Denying the gift though is withholding a part of yourself from helping others. And I think you can even help yourself if you don’t deny this gift.

I like what author Annie Dillard had to say about this.

“You were made and set here to give voice to this, your own astonishment.”

May we all give voice to something with our words this afternoon.

Until next time, be real!

 

Patience

What is patience, and why is it so hard to have nowadays? The first part of that question is easy to figure out. Here are some definitions. (from dictionary.com)

1) the quality of being patient, as the bearing of provocation, annoyance, misfortune, or pain, without complaint, loss of temper, irritation, or the like.

2) an ability or willingness to suppress restlessness or annoyance when confronted with delay.

3) quiet, steady perseverance; even-tempered care; diligence.

 

However, the second part of that question is more difficult. I believe it has to do with Western culture and how those of us who live in the West, and especially in the United States, are accustomed to getting everything super-fast–from cooking in our microwave ovens to having many kinds of businesses having a drive-through lane so we can get whatever we’re going to get faster. It also is reflected in the many accidents that you see on the roads that help us get from place to place. If people were more patient and would drive at reasonable speeds, there would not be as many car accidents or as many people experiencing road rage as a friend of mine on Facebook talked about witnessing yesterday.

So, what can change this? How do we gain more patience? I think we need to make a conscious choice to slow down. Give ourselves more time to get places. Realize that nothing is going to happen overnight, especially that fame or fortune that those of us who are writers might like to have. As I said in another post a while back, just keep doing a little bit each day to get better, and eventually, you’ll be the writer, and the person, you want to be.

Am I saying that’s an easy thing? No, it’s not. It’s especially hard for me. I think though of the parable of the sower of the seed in Luke 8:4-8.

“And when a great multitude came together, and they of every city restored unto him, he spake by a parable. The sower went forth to sow his seed: and as

he sowed, some fell by the way side; and it was trodden under foot, and the birds of the heaven devoured it. And other fell on the rock; and as soon as it

grew, it withered away, because it had no moisture. And other fell amidst the thorns; and the thorns grew with it and choked it. And other fell into the

good ground, and grew, and brought forth fruit a hundredfold. As he said these things, he cried, He that hath ears to hear let him hear.”

Seeds take time to grow, and I want my seeds to be on good ground. May we all have patience today in whatever we do.

Until next time, be real!