Saturday, January 30, 2010

more on The Book of Eli

Curious to see how others viewed this same movie, I checked out a couple of movie reviewers I have often appreciated in the past.
http://dove.org/reviewpopup.asp?Unique_ID=8184
and
http://www.christiananswers.net/spotlight/movies/2010/bookofeli2010.html
If these links don't work, please visit Dove.org, and ChristianAnswers.net



Book of Eli Review - adults only please.

Spoiler Alert: If you have not seen the movie, this review will tell you a bit of how it ends. Also, this review should be read by adults only.

"The Book of Eli" could have been an amazing, great movie. The premise sounded awesome to me. A man, who has heard the voice of God, is carrying the last remaining Bible across the continent in a post-apocalypse world. He faces heavy opposition, and discovers that he really carries more than one copy of the Bible, because he has memorized the text after 30 years of walking.

Unfortunately, the movie was horrifically, graphically violent. In the opening scene, a feral emaciated cat eats from a dead body in a close up camera shot. The hero of the story kills the cat with an arrow, and eats it for dinner over a fire. Within the first twenty minutes of the movie, we see two dead bodies with evidence of violent and suicidal death, a man shot, and a woman raped . . . although thankfully that is not a close up scene.

The main character is both comfortable and uncomfortable with the violence around him. It is obviously something he tries to avoid, but yet takes part in with a horrible efficiency.

If the hero hadn't shown some remorse for both his actions, and sometimes his inaction, I would have walked out of the movie theatre. Denzel Washington did a good job portraying a character who is conflicted by the level of violence in the world, and yet defending himself with expertise.

The basic storyline is a good one. The villian is believable. He is a warlord type figure who believes he will use the Bible as a book of power, as an intellectual hold over people that will force them to live in the way he thinks they should.

In the end, the hero fights his way free of the villians clutches, saves the life of another person, and gives up his written copy of the Bible, to continue to follow the direction of God, and then gives a word for word account of the Bible to a group that copies it and sends it out into the world. He then dies from his wounds, and the girl he saved leaves to return home with the hope that has been given her.

Again the premise is good, the execution is way too graphic and violent for my taste. I understand that the script-writers were trying to show just how horrible and hellish the world would be without the Word of God dwelling in it, but . . . I didn't need to see those images.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

waiting, patience, and compost

What do these three things have to do with my relationship with my Lord and Savior and with my writing?

1. Waiting

Every day I pray, and every day I wait to hear/find/be sent an answer to those prayers. Sometimes the answer is yes, sometimes no, sometimes . . . wait.

Psalm 130:5 "I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
and in his word I put my hope."

In my writing, I may be busily typing away, and yet waiting inside for that moment when the words fall into a rhythm with my thoughts.
In the process of submissions, I find myself waiting for responses, and I try to fill those voids with writing, prayer, and positive encouragement.


2. Patience

Obviously waiting requires patience, and yet patience sometimes is needed even in those moments when I don't think I'm waiting. I need patience when I find myself brimming with emotion, especially if that emotion is anger. Each action I take, each word I speak reflects the state of my soul at that moment. Each action, and each word affects not only the people around me, but also my relationship with God. Yes, He is amazing and full of grace, but out of my forgiven freedom I have the honor to walk free and be loving. When I lack patience, I have fallen back into my old sinful self.

"Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love." Ephesians 4:2

In my writing life, my patience is tested when I find myself wandering from my plot, following around minor characters, or just not seeming to move my story forward, caught in characterization exercises in the midst of a story. However, if I patiently wade through these parts of my writing, I am often rewarded with richer characters, and a more character-driven plot.


3. Compost

This morning I received a devotional from Upper Room about compost. I skimmed it, and agreed with it, but I wanted to relate it more to my own experiences both with real compost and the compost that seems to clutter my spiritual and writing life.

Compost piles are smelly, warm, full of worms, sometimes slugs, beetles, spiders, rotting vegetation and dirt. If I had to pick up any of that stuff in my bare hands, I would choose dirt and worms because neither has ever bothered me.

However, if I think about it, the best worms, and the best dirt can be found only in a compost pile.

So, what does that mean for my spiritual relationship with God? Sometimes it seems my greatest failings, once fermented in and covered by God's love and grace, turn out to be my richest and most rewarding spiritual lessons. They are also the best soil for those times when I am actually asked by someone to share my faith.

In my writing life, sometimes my worst ideas become my best ones after a long time. Sometimes the stuff that I don't like gets churned around in my imagination, mixed with some good but overly ripe ideas and turned into something new and promising, like rich soil ready for planting or in this case, writing.


So, I'm trying to wait, with patience, for my compost to turn into rich, wormy soil.

patience

waiting,
patience,
and
compost

What do these things have to do with God, and with writing?

I'll answer that in my next post.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

3 Ways that Writing and Extreme Skiing are Alike

Lately, I've been reading these wonderful and helpful posts with numbered bullet points, and thought I would try one myself. The last few nights my family and I have watched pieces of a Warren Miller film showcasing extreme skiing and snowboarding, so with that in mind, and the feeling I've been having about my story, "True Love's Gifts," here goes.

3 Ways that Writing and Extreme Skiing are Alike

1. You want to start with the right equipment.

No one wants to be caught in the snow in shorts, unless it's spring skiing season or that person is a extremely crazy Alaskan skiier. Having warm clothes, waxed, sharp-edged skis, and a helmet are a good way to start a ski day.

When writing, we need to have writing utensils like pen and paper, or a computer and a power source, an imagination, and some writing guides for helpful hints when it comes to tricky grammar, and technique.

Technical guides are like the helmet that protects us when we fall. I should probably start wearing a helmet more often.

The imagination is like those waxed, sharp-edged skis.

The warm clothes are like the basic writing utensils. I'm not sure if there is an equivalent to the spring skiing in shorts for writing utensils.


2. You have to get to the top of the hill. This can be done in three different ways: helicopter, chairlift, or hiking.

For writing, those hills we have to surmount are: fear, time, and high expectations.

Fear is a tough hill to climb, and I climb it every day with my writing. There are many different fears, and I feel that they are adequately described in Joanna Young's blog Confident Writing in her post, "Writing Superheroes."

Time is hard to make for yourself as a writer, and at the same time easy. How many minutes do we spend watching tv, sifting through old e-mail, waking up slowly over a cup of joe? We can find the time to write.

High expectations are also tough hills for me. I need a helicopter ride for this one. However, as David Turnbull, Barefoot Geek, and guest post writer at Write to Done this last week wrote in his post "3 Simple Tips to Effortless Writing," we need to "Ease the Pressure."


3. You have to be willing to jump off the cliff, ski through the moguls, and try a few tricks.If you aren't falling, you aren't learning.

The sensation of jumping off a cliff into the unknown often accompanies my writing. It seems like sometimes I know from the moment I jump that I am going to make the landing, or that I won't. Sometimes, however, I'm just falling and I'm not sure if I will land, or break my legs.

Getting through tough plotting moments in my writing and not allowing my characters to take me down a side trail are kind of like skiing through a field of moguls. I want to ride on the top of them, not get stuck in the valleys between them.

Writing exercises and writing characters or stories outside of my comfort zone are like trying tricks on my skis. I admit I'm not really an extreme skier, but I do have these really cool short skis and I try to do jump turns, spins and things like that. On more than one occassion, I've tumbled head over heels down the slope, or scooped up snow with the back of my jacket. This leads me to that last point.

Falling down and getting up are part of learning to ski, or learning to write. Every time I fall down, I have the opportunity to learn and get up. If I don't fall, I haven't pushed the envelope hard enough to learn anything.

Or as one of my favorite Christian bands, Superchick!, says "If I get up, I might fall back down again . . . So get up anyway."

Friday, January 22, 2010

writing time lost

Overwhelmed by a messy house,
not even welcome for a mouse,
we stayed home from the mountain,
and house-cleaning is certain.

Whew! My writing is somewhere below "uninspired" at this moment.

I have yet to open up my story file.

Yesterday I felt energized by a writing challenge from Six Sentences. The editor is asking for submissions of "love" stories.

And crazily, I started another blog this morning, although I only plan to post there once a week. "Words" is about words, and how they shape our lives. Simple enough.

The only problem is that the subject is making me feel hyperactive about the many writing mistakes I'm seeing in this post. I may need to re-read Write to Done's guest post by the Barefoot Geek called "3 Tips for Effortless Writing". And now, real life is calling and my writing time is gone. Hmm.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Wounded Warriors

In the picture I see
a dolphin, wounded by the sea,
healed by the hands of man and woman,
held by wounded warriors who hold onto hope.

They are all smiling, men and dolphin
with looks of joy that are genuine.
Stop by the Dolphin Research Center's blog to see the story,
the picture worth more than my words.

one word at a time

One word at a time.
Just a little more each day.
That seems to be my speed this week.

I've submitted a story and a poem.
I've written just 700 more words
on True Love's Gifts over the course
of two days. The progress feels
too slow.

But I keep going.
One word at a time.

submission

submission, a word
with more than one meaning
or just one, but split
into two categories of trust

submission to God
is about placing all
my trust and my life
in his hands

submission of my work,
my writing filled with my hope,
is about placing my trust
in the hands of editors

or is it still about
submission to God,
trusting him to watch
over my writing?

One word,
all about trust.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Hoping for a jump start

Does your writing ever feel like it needs a jump start?

This past weekend, we had an amazing trip with our church youth group up to Mt. Baker and Lutherwood. The experience was awesome, and we loved it. The only downfall (other than less sleep than I like) is that I didn't get any writing done. I had a few opportunities . . . the drive was fairly long, but I didn't put pen to paper once. I had my notebook on my lap, and the last five pages of my current project printed out, but no writing. I just soaked up every experience.

So, today, I feel like I've returned and found my writing hard to start.

It reminds me of walking to my car in the parking lot and realizing that I left my lights on all day, and the battery doesn't have enough juice to get started. I'm thankful I drive a stick shift at times like that. When I can get the car rolling slowly forward, and then pump the clutch until . . . suddenly the car rumbles and shudders to life.

So, I hope that my writing starts like that old stick shift car of mine. I'm trying to get it rolling, and I hope to hear the rumble and shudder of life again soon.

Anyone else have a tough time starting up again after a "vacation" away from writing?

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Five More Minutes!

Have you ever had that feeling, as if life is rushing up to you and you really just want five more minutes to write something?

It seems like my best ideas always come when I am supposed to be finishing up my writing time.

Anyone have ideas for how to get into that "just five more minutes" mode when I start my writing time instead of when I finish it?

Wellness

Joyful, we celebrate
Wellness,
often expected.

After being sick,
we see that it is a gift.

Wellness.

Wholeness.

Life.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

a good start

450 words in 20 minutes
dogs barking wildly
cat rubbing herself against me
if I weren't still tired,
maybe I would have started earlier

but 450 words added in makes 7,000
a good start on what I hope will be
a good story

rooted, but still daydreaming

clouds drifting across a dawn sky,
tree dark shadows stand steady,
and I sit, but wish I could fly

rooted solid, with branches dreaming

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

sunshine through clouds

Sunshine through clouds,
tap dancing daughters
practicing a trick,
happy dogs, and a wise cat,
all make for a wonderful day.

And I'm not feeling as sick,
so that's good too. :-)

Monday, January 11, 2010

winter flu

spinning sideways with
nausea upset while lying
low on the slumped sofa

just in time

after a day of gray rain,
the blue sky pushes
the clouds to the horizon
just in time for sunset

winter rain

winter rain drips down
the windowpane, seeps across
the deck into green grass

Rain to Sun

Rain
gray sky, drooping branches
clouds covering the horizon, drips hanging, puddles forming,
splashing, jumping, running, skipping, laughing
double rainbows, light-dappled shadow, blue sky opening,
bird chirping, petal stretching,
Sun

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Heroes or Zombies 2: a hero

One hero who chose not to be a zombie, or a sleepwalker, during his time was William Wilberforce. Check out this excerpt from the introduction to the book "Amazing Grace."

"Wilberforce saw much of what the rest of the world could not, including the grotesque injustice of one man treating another as property. He seems to rise up out of nowhere and with the voice of unborn billions - with your voice and mine - shriek to his contemporaries that they are sleepwalking through hell, that they must wake up and must see what he saw and know what he knew - and what you and I know today - that the widespread and institutionalized and unthinkably cruel treatment of millions of human beings is evil and must be stopped as soon as conceivably possible - no matter the cost." - Eric Metaxas

What hell are we sleepwalking through today? What injustice are we blindly putting up with in our lives?

Do we choose to be heroes or zombies?

Saturday, January 9, 2010

heroes or zombies

Reading that title reminds me that we have a choice.

We can be heroes or zombies.

There is no middle ground.

Even when I have a head cold and feel like I'm sleepwalking backwards.

I have a choice.

Hero or Zombie.

Do I want to embrace life or death?

Do I want to have meaning in my life or do I want to allow the world to put me in place?

Reading scriptures makes this clear to me.

Check out Romans 6, 1 John 3, and Isaiah 38.

These verses stand out the most for me:

"For the grave cannot praise you,
death cannot sing your praise;
those who do go down ot the pit
cannot hope for your faithfulness.
The living, the living - they praise you,
as I am doing today;
fathers tell your children
about your faithfulness." Isaiah 38:18-19

"Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the live he lives, he lives to God. In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive in Christ." Romans 6:8-11

"We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. Anyone who does not love remains in death. Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him. This is how we now what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us." 1 John 3:14-16

Thursday, January 7, 2010

gems and disappointments that inspire

Despite my disappointment in seeing the separation of "gifted" writers from regular writers in the book "Encouraging your Child's Writing Talent," I am still finding some quotable gems.

"True writing begins with listening."

"Writers are fulfilled when they write the stories their hearts need to tell."

These quotes are both gems from chapter one. However, I find myself frustrated by that separation I mentioned, between gifted or talented writers from regular writers. The only quote I like that even leans in that direction is this one:
"For some children, there is meaning and truth literally locked inside their minds, waiting for the right key to open the door to something they will love for the rest of their lives."

"Some"? Ok, I will admit that some of us enjoy writing more than others, but "some children have meaning and truth locked inside their minds"? Baloney.

All of us have meaning and truth locked inside of us, placed there by God when he formed us in our mothers' wombs.

Psalm 139:13-14 "For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well."

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Writing Purpose

". . . writing is not a performance but a generosity." - Brenda Ueland, 1938

"Writing: That powerful tool that is more than a tool, the device that transcends the mere passing of a message from one to another, the instrument that can bring men and women to tears or to action for a cause, an implement of joy and pleasure to human beings that conveys hope and ignites love, laughter, and tears." - by Nancy Peterson, "Encouraging Your Child's Writing Talent"

I love these quotes, and the blog I found this morning, called "The Write Worship". I just love that name for a blog, and for the real, transcending purpose for writing. Writing can be, and is an act of worship. It can be a performance, but it can be a gift. It can be a tool, but it can also touch lives inside, in the soul deep place where we really live and dream.

God's direction in my life and his purpose brings me here, to fill my blank pages with writing that I hope glorifies him, even in all of its mess.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Review of Hidden Empire

As a fan of the Orson Scott Card's Ender books, and his current Empire books, I find myself thinking over my last Christmas present, "Hidden Empire"," with some regret that I have finished reading it. I decided I just had to write a review, but this is really a review that may or may not be readable for non-Card readers.

I'm just thinking through "Hidden Empire" and its place in Card's book empire.

Empire had me turning pages, thinking about the political climate, and turning pages again on the edge of my seat with both the action and the political philosophy being espoused. Empire seemed to be a warning in our political climate . . . a warning not to take sides so quickly or so seriously.

Hidden Empire takes on a new agenda, clearly taking political sides in today's hot button atmosphere.

Even though I'm not Catholic, I have known both Roman Catholics and Orthodox Catholics, and found Cecily's Catholic roots to be less than believable. Christian, yes . . . Catholic, not really. I am Christian, but found the positive portrayal of Christians within a science fiction novel to be surprising.

Throughout Empire, I felt as if I were reading an entirely new series within an entirely new speculative world. In Hidden Empire, I felt as if I kept seeing glimpses of a "Pre-Ender" world.

Is it just coincidence that Cecily's youngest son is named John Paul and that Ender's father is named John Paul? Perhaps Card just likes that name, especially when portraying a Roman Catholic family.

Is it coincidence that Torrent is creating a world empire, and that is the type of government we see at the beginning of the Ender series?

Considering that we know a little about biological warfare these days, I was surprised that no one in Cole's jeesh suspected Torrent of creating the virus to wipe out part of the population and give him a chance to prove himself in a tense political situation.

I also found some of the political and religious dissertations at the beginning of the chapters to be troublesome at times. I wasn't sure if each of these were to be considered Torrent's sound bites, or if some of them were Card's version of spouting a political agenda.

However, having said all that, I also have to say that Card, as always, is a masterful storyteller, creating characters that I can't help but care about, laugh with, and cry with as the story unfolds. Chinma, Cole and Cecily and amazing characters, and all the others like Cole's jeesh, Cecily's kids, Aunt Margaret and Torrent were masterfully written as well. Thank you Card. I'll read the next one, if there is one.

Advice, shaken, not stirred.

How is it that some advice is easy to hear, read, or take?

While at other times, advice feels like nails dragged over dried out cracking skin?

This morning I came across advice in three places.

My mother gave me the first advice of the day: "you should look that author up, the one that wrote that column, he's been published and he has a blog."

My response: "Having a blog doesn't mean anything, mom. I have a blog, and I'm not famous. I didnt' like his writing that well."

My action: I looked up the author online, read some of his blog and decided that he may be more successful, and his writing does have a punch, but I don't like his style or his philosophy. I wouldn't want to take advice from him.

My second piece of advice came from reading "Dear Abby," simply because there didn't seem to be enough comics in the entertainment section, and "Dear Abby" came next in the paper. She had written some advice to a mother that I completely agreed with, even though I felt she could have written that particular piece of advice with more fervor.

My response: I found "Dear Abby" online, and wrote my response, and my advice.

My third piece of advice came from a blog that I purposely read for the wonderful insights and inspirational advice on writing. The Confident Writer is a great place to find upbeat help on writing and a good attitude towards fellow writers. Today's advice: Start Anew with the New Year.

My response: I wrote a response to the blog, and made some writing plans for a fresh start with my writing.

My response to all the advice: Sometimes I need it, sometimes I don't want to hear it, and sometimes I would rather write my own and hand it off to someone else.

And there is this thought too: even when I don't want to hear it, sometimes I actually follow it, especially when it's from my mom. I may not always agree with her. I may feel full up on advice from her, but I know she loves me. I know that she hopes for the best for me even now when I am an adult with children of my own to sharpen my advice skills with for future generations.


The last thought I have on advice: it's probably best from the real book of wisdom, The Bible. Psalm 119:105 "Your word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path."

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Word of the Day: Tortuous

Word of the Day from Dictionary.com: Tortuous

1.Marked by repeated turns and bends; as, "a tortuous road up the mountain."
2.Not straightforward; devious; as, "his tortuous reasoning."
3.Highly involved or intricate; as, "tortuous legal procedures."

I find it interesting how close "tortuous" is to torturous.

"Some speakers and writers use torturous for tortuous, especially in the senses “twisting, winding” and “convoluted”: a torturous road; torturous descriptions. Others, however, keep the two adjectives (and their corresponding adverbs) separate in all senses: a tortuous (twisting) road; tortuous (convoluted) descriptions; torturous (painful) treatments." - from Dictionary.com

So if I take the two words and use them in one sentence, I get something like: the walk up the tortuous road became torturous as it climbed steeply into the mountains.

I'm not usually a word of the day kind of person, but for some reason this struck me,in my lazy hour this Sunday afternoon.

I've been reading RayGunRevival.com stories, and just resting.

I "should" be getting some writing in, and I "should" be housecleaning but John is taking a nap, and I "should" be planning for a week of homeschooling, but I just haven't been feeling motivated.

I finally feel like writing, but I feel this need to move . . . or at least check in with my daughters, one of whom is reading, and the other who is . . . playing a video game???

So time to move . . . maybe clean quietly, plan a little, write a little, bake a few cupcakes and prep for my hubby's birthday dinner party?

Hmm. A slow start to the new year, in which my goals are: to clean out my closets and dust in the corners, to finish my book, to successfully home-school my daughters, to lose a bit of weight and regain muscle, and . . . to remember that I am free in Christ.