Monday, October 16, 2017

Me and Moses


When I attended a Catholic university to get my BA many, many years ago, I was required to take twelve hours of religious studies.  I took several courses on the Bible, but I remember little of it outside of the more popular books.
Since then I have tried reading the Bible on my own on several occasions but somewhere between Judges and Ruth, I lose interest. After wandering around like Moses in the desert, lost and bewildered as to how to get this done, I joined a group last year committed to reading the Bible in 2017.   
The leader is a Facebook friend and fellow writing buddy, but my commitment is not as much to her or the group as it is to my own belief in God. If the Bible is the book of my faith, I should be able to proudly state I have read it cover to cover and am familiar with its contents.
Here I am ten months into 2017 and I have just now finished reading the Old Testament and have started into the New. Some OT books were lyrical and uplifting; others were drab and painful.  No matter how much I tried I had a difficult time reading them, much less gleaning a spiritual message from them. 
I am more familiar with the New Testament – Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul, so the reading is easier so far. I have noticed a different tone as well. It will be interesting what my final assessment will be when I finish and look back at the total endeavor.
So far, I am surprised at situations in the OT that apply to modern times. We seem doomed to continuously repeat the same mistakes in our relationship with God, but I also see His unconditional and everlasting love, His promise of forgiveness and grace through the ages. 

Moses and I have a lot in common as our wandering ends. I see hope at the end of the journey as I seek God. 

Monday, October 9, 2017

Feeding Frenzy on Facebook


8:15 AM: I find a happy photo with a meme and I post it on my feed.  I am the first to “like” it so that it will push to the top of the main FB feed my friends see. 
-       Like # 2
-       Like #3
-       Grumpy Face.  A link is attached.  There is NOTHING happy about last night’s catastrophe, controversy, corruption! (I do not respond.)
8:20 AM: I post a corny, non-political, joke.  I like puns.  I “like” it.
-       Like# 2, 3, 4, 5
-       A “friend” corrects an irksome, grammatical error as if I hadn’t noticed it also. (I do not acknowledge.  I refuse to be put on the defensive.)
8:25 AM: I try my luck with an uplifting quote, a familiar verse often used in literature and song. I “like” it.
-       Like #2
-       Scolded again.  This time for forcing a Bible verse on those who prefer I keep religious references to myself.  (I remind myself to do this again tomorrow.)
8:30 AM: I post a link on my feed, current news.  I share without a “like,” without a comment, without an emoji. 
-       An immediate slam, an accusation of being vile, complicit, divisive. (I delete this comment.  It is MY feed.  I unfriend this person, ban them from my posts.)
I log out.  I need a breather, a cup of coffee, breakfast.

1 PM: HoneyBunch and I return from running errands in town.  Lunch at a new place.  I tag the place, post a photo of my order, and a nice comment on the food and the service.  Again, I “like” my own comment to boost it on the main feed.
-       Some stranger (not on my friend list) contradicts my comments.  They found lipstick on their glass of ice tea, they had to swat at flies in the dining room, the server was rude. . ..
-       I delete their libelous comment.  Again, it is MY post, not theirs.
7 PM: I post a picture of the novel I just finished.  I congratulate and tag the author on a job well done. (I “like” my comment.)
-       Like #2, 3, 4
-       Comments of agreement. I interact with them and ask for other book suggestions.
-       One person talks about the slow pacing, the historical inconsistencies, the exorbitant price, best to buy it second hand. Author So and So did a better job on the same topic.
-       I consider deleting this comment, but when others come on and disagree with this person, I leave it at that.
7:15 PM: Wow! Look at this recipe. (Like.)
-       Like # 2. 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10
-       I can’t have sugar.  Can you post this recipe without sugar?
-       Is this gluten free?
-       It has chocolate.  I don’t eat chocolate that is not ethically harvested!
-       I comment that the recipe is not mine.  I just like  to look at doughnuts.
9 PM: I log out.  I know I should post consistently but I have had enough of “prime time” FB. (7 pm – 9 pm)
3 AM: Insomnia.  I scroll though FB, searching for posts I want to post on  my feed.  No one bothers me as I read and post. I ignore spam, click-bait, and anything  I dislike. I post something funny, and I “like” it.
-       Aw.  Are you up?  Insomnia?
-       Something bothering you?
-       Do you need a virtual hug? An emoji?  A gif?

I log out and go to bed.   

Monday, October 2, 2017

Legacy


Two people died last week.  They both lived long, full lives.  One was arrogant and infamous, thousands knew his name; the other was humble and well-loved by only a handful.
Both had families.  His was a product of a multitude of meaningless, hedonistic relationships; she dedicated herself to her husband of sixty years. While his heirs scramble over the remains of his crumbling empire, hers are assured of their inheritance as they stand on the solid foundation she left behind.  
He will be remembered for scandal and promiscuity. People either snicker or frown when his name is mentioned. His fame, money, and arrogance did not buy him immortality.
She will be remembered for love and integrity.  People either smile or feel sorrow at the mention of her name. She lived an exemplary life and that is her legacy, one for which her family and friends will long keep her memory.    
Two people died last week.  One lived his life as if there was no tomorrow; she lived hers knowing that there is.   


Monday, September 25, 2017

Hair of the Blog: Remedies for Idea Hangovers


How do you keep up with a blog when you are suffering from Blog Hangover?  Has blogging started to be more work than fun?  Has it become painful to develop interesting ideas? Do you feel disinterested, tired, and in need of hair of the blog?
First, whether you are blogging once a week or twice a month, keep to your schedule. If you have established faithful readers, respect their time and loyalty.  Give them something to anticipate in your next blog post. Keep their interest.  If you don’t keep to your promised schedule, you run the risk of losing them and having to attract a new readership from scratch.
Also, the more you post, the better your Search Engine Optimization (SEO). With each post, the Internet builds a portfolio of your work and your SEO increases.  When people search the Internet for a topic you have written, the chance that your work will show on their first page of searches increases.  Writing sporadically only hurts your reliability and your SEO.
Secondly, blog topics depend on the purpose of your blog, and the purpose of your blog defines its genre. Look at all its facets and stick to that. A political blog is different from a cooking blog, a Mommy blog, or an author’s blog. Focus on why you blog.  What overall product or pronouncement are you selling? 
For instance, my blog is about a writer of boomer age struggling to find her writer’s voice. It is about her experiences, her writing, and about the books she reads.  I am not selling anything, other than myself, so I alternate blogs about these three subjects. It gives me a variety of latitude.
Thirdly, I get inspiration from many places. I search calendars and approaching holidays.  I read newspapers, magazines, and online news sources.  I try and keep abreast of the latest trends, fads, and controversies.  I keep my eyes and ears open to the world around me as I travel, reading billboard signs and listening to conversations and radio shows. I read voraciously and make notes of pictures, poems, quotes, verses.  I soak up vocabulary and debates, and make lists and jot notes to use later. I remedy my blog hangovers with a folder of ideas for future use.  It helps to keep me interested and interesting.  It keeps me focused and it shows respect for those who are kind enough to read my posts.


Monday, September 11, 2017

Really, Really, Amazing Must-Have List of Books for Beginning and Established Writers




I love lists, especially book lists.  I used to browse the brick and mortar bookstores for hours, looking through displays and shelves, selecting books I wanted, and putting some back when it came time to pay for the ones that fit within my budget.
Nowadays, I rely on word of mouth, especially book club suggestions on Facebook, Goodreads, or Amazon.  I see a book list and my curiosity goes into CSI mode.  I read reviews, compare what one reader says versus another, and then make my online purchase. 
I offer you my list of Really, Really, Amazing Must-Have Books for Beginning and Established Writers. They can be read in any order, but I thought you would like a bit more description before you decide to own any of them.

I.        Starting List of Really, Really, Must-Haves:

On Writing Well by William Zinsser. Good, basic advice, so purchase any edition.  This is a good place to start planning this writing venture.

The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Creative Battles by Steven Pressfield. The title says it all.


II.      The Really, Really, Must-Haves When Getting into the Nitty-gritty of Writing:  

The Art of War by James Scott Bell.  The man is a genius when it comes to craft.  Any book by Mr. Bell is a great investment.

Getting into Character by Brandilyn Collins.  This book helps dig deep into character building, and how the main character affects every aspect of the story.

Guerilla Marketing for Writers by Jay Conrad Levinson.  It is exactly what it promises.

The Power of Body Language by Tonya Reiman.  Here is a manual on how to read (and use) body language to show your characters’ actions.

Save the Cat! by Blake Snyder. This is a great book on pacing and plotting.

Understanding Show, Don’t Tell by Janice Hardy.  Best book I have found on how to show, not tell, and how point of view affects prose. Show, not tells is not as simplistic as made out to be, so this is a definite must have.

Wired for Story by Lisa Cron. Another must have, this book is the best book on plotting and character and prose on the market. Backed by scientific proof, the author argues that all human beings need story, not just for entertainment but for basic survival


III.    The Really, Really, Necessary Book List When the Writing Road Gets Tedious, Weary, or Dead Ends:

We all have inspirational books on our shelves, so don’t go out and buy more.  Dust them off and read those you have. You might try reading the Bible, poetry books, the newspaper, magazines, anything that invigorates your soul and keeps you on track, but here are some of my favorites:

      Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott

    On Writing by Stephen King

    Walking on Alligators by Susan Shaughnessy

    Writing Down the Bones by NatalieGoldberg

      Zen and the Art of Writing by RayBradbury

           
IV.      And the Really, Really Necessary Book List When It’s Time to Revise or Edit: 

Art of Styling Sentences by Longknife and Sullivan

     The Elements of Style by Strunk and White

    The Synonym Finder by J.I.Rodale. Sure, you can find words more easily on the Internet but nothing compares to the thoroughness of this gem.

       Revision and Self-Editing by JamesScottBell

       Writing Tools by Roy PeterClark.