Monday, March 31, 2014
Thursday, March 27, 2014
Monday, March 24, 2014
Monday, March 17, 2014
The other day we had a family dinner & movie night - home-made pizzas and the Disney Pixar film The Incredibles. There is a scene early in the movie where two under-cover superheros are rescuing people from a burning building. Lucius Best AKA Frozone has the ability to create ice, from the water in his body, and the water in the air. In this hot burning environment he is too dehydrated, and there is no moisture in the air. The building starts to fall apart and they find themselves in a jewelry shop - mistaken for thieves.
Frozone is empty, he cannot use his powers. He has to take a quick drink from a water cooler to get back his abilities. This got me thinking. Often in life we can do things that empty us in some way, and need to re-fill. I thought about this in both spiritual and creative senses.
If we keep trying to "do stuff" for God, but never refill from his word and time spent with Him then we’re going to run dry and not be effective. In his post last week, Gregory Morris did a good job of talking about refilling and refueling from God’s word, and there’s certainly nothing more I could add to this.
In relation to our creative life, I think similar laws apply. In our writing, we are pouring out creativity but we need to refill our creative tank sometimes. I’m not talking about reading writing craft books and here, that is also absolutely vital, but I’m think of that as equipping ourselves with the right tools. I think we can refill our creative tank by consuming good stories.
I am trying to change the way I read stories. Traditionally, I've just become swept away by the story, but not thought too much about what the author is doing, and how they’re doing it. I am trying more and more to be a little more aware of what is going on around me when I read for pleasure. I’m not talking about full-on studying the text, but just having a greater awareness. Maybe other people are better at this and just do it naturally.
As example of this happened with me recently.. I’m currently reading A Cast of Stones by Patrick W. Carr. This Christian Fantasy has as its protagonist Eroll - a young drunk. He has no ambition or purpose in his life but to raise enough money for his next ale binge. There is nothing about him to make him a sympathetic protagonist. Contrast Eroll with another character - Liam. Liam is attractive, intelligent, kind and better than most with a sword. In addition to all of this, He is humble about his abilities and not at all stuck up. Everything about this character says we should love him - he is the perfect hero. The fascinating thing is that as we read the book, we identify strongly with Eroll, we care about him, and we quickly learn to dislike Liam. Why?
The author has done a very good job of making Eroll sympathetic to us. We stick very close in his point of view. We live through the danger with him as unknown assassins try to kill him. Then, we view Liam through the lense of Eroll’s jealousy. I was quite shocked at myself when I realised that I had resentful feelings toward Liam. That just shows what a good job the author did. Later in the book, when we find out why Eroll has descended into a drinking problem, we feel for him even more deeply because we already feel close to him.
I think this kind of observational reading can help recharge our tank, just like Frozone drinking that water, and I am going to try to more consciously do it.
Adam Collings is a writer of speculative fiction and video blogger. He is actively working toward becoming a published author. He lives in Tasmania, Australia. Adam discusses books and movies on his youTube series Stories. You can find Adam on-line at collingszone.wordpress.com or his Google+ Profile
Friday, March 14, 2014
So my friend why settle for the mundane, the status quo and the “just enough”? Go for “GREATER”!!
Pastor Gregory Morris is a communicator at heart with a passion to share the Gospel via the spoken word, the written word and song. As the “pen of a ready writer”…the mandate upon his life is twofold: a) to reach a hurting, broken world by extending hope through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and b) to equip and empower born again Christians by igniting a greater thirst and hunger for God’s Word through sound, balanced teaching and preaching.
Monday, March 10, 2014
Thursday, March 6, 2014
Cecily Paterson is the author of the award-winning memoir Love Tears & Autism. She now writes teen fiction for girls.
Monday, March 3, 2014
There comes a time in every writer's life when we must edit our manuscripts. Beautiful prose & our favorite paragraphs are often the ones that end up on the cutting room floor.
If you're anything like me, you'll know how painful these edits can be.
Let me introduce you to The University of Hard Knocks by Ralph Parlette, a delightful little book I found recently at a book festival. Initially, I was attracted by its worn surface & romantic aroma of vanilla & dirty almonds held captive between the pages. It was published in 1928, which just furthered my delight. There's something about holding a book filled with words from a different time that makes my head giddy.
Imagine my delight when I opened this little treasure chest of wisdom to discover the whole thing was about choosing to walk into the "bumps" life gives us & let them be our teachers. I'm delving into the second draft of my first novel now & much as I love to write, it's still hard to cut things I cherish from the first draft, even though I know my story is becoming stronger.
The University of Hard Knocks is a great addition to my library at work, not only because it's old & looks cool on my desk, but I thought it would be funny to peg it at people who complain about their stories & tell them, "Welcome to the University of Hard Knocks. Now stop complaining & get back to work."
I'm not really that mean, but the idea made me smile.
I may not toss the book at people (it might get damaged) but I do encourage them to read the first page titled, The Books Are Bumps.
I am being pulverized.
I work in a film office where we write new stories & edit them all the time. When someone is stubborn with their script, their story suffers. If they hold their story with an open hand & welcome the constructive criticism, their stories become stronger.
The first short film I wrote was very special to me. Every time I was given even the slightest of criticisms, I would hold my story even closer & say "My characters aren't like that." The closer I held it, the worse it became. In the end, I didn't have a story, because I refused to take the advice. Instead of being a project I am proud of, all I can see are the mistakes I thought were pearls.
Thankfully, I have learned my lesson. I hear a piece of constructive criticism & the person can barely finish when I'm already making the necessary changes.
How did I finally learn this lesson? When I realized the story was still my story. I always thought if I changed the story to the way it was suggested, it was no longer mine, but this is simply not true.
It's like makeup.
Applying makeup doesn't change me into a different person, it just enhances the beauty already there. Editing & constructive criticism are similar. They are meant to enhance and reveal what we have said & make it clearer.
When it comes to my novel, I've discovered I'm still in need of a few "bumps" to help me push forward. I tell myself, "Don't be afraid to cut lines you love most." or "It's all part of the University of Hard Knocks." It's true. In the long run it will only make our stories stronger, leaner & more easily enjoyed by the masses. Even if you have to make one of your favorite characters into a "bad guy".
So here's a challenge for us - hold our stories with open hands. Instead of getting disheartened or hurt by criticism, see it for the good it is, allow the bumps to teach us how to make our story stronger.
What do you think, wanna take the challenge with me?
Charis Joy Jackson is working as a missionary with Youth With a Mission (YWAM) a non-profit organization & is part of The Initiative Production Company. She loves creating stories & is currently writing a novel, which she hopes to create into a seven part series.
Here's to a life lived in awe & wonder.
Welcome to the adventure.