Posts made in July, 2014

The What and The Why: Taking Inventory in Summer 2014: Part 2

Posted by on Jul 31, 2014 in Writer's Diary

As if I needed to say more, right? Well, yeah. Kinda.

It’s a funny thing the way my mind works (and my grammar too; one post I’m “Stilted McGee” and the next I just let it run). Anyway, Monday I posted about my fierce intentionality to live well based on knowing that life has eternal meaning and significance, regardless of what I do with it. That assurance, of course, comes from Christ and my deeply held belief that we are all part of his ongoing, eternal narrative of redemption.

I still hold to that truth as I type this, but I think I did myself a disservice in my last post. Here’s the deal: On Monday,  I said I was not very good at executing my plans or staying on task and reaching my goals.

Truth is, I feel that way sometimes. And sometimes it is, in fact, true.

But not always.

In fact, I have a fair amount of data to prove it. I have tracked my writing since 2012 (via excel timesheet since 2013). I kept a few years’ worth of workouts and weigh-ins. I held down two jobs for 18 months in 2007, and I’ve essentially been doing so again the last 12 months. And that’s just the stuff of which I’m aware off the top of my head. That’s intentionality in practice. That’s competent execution.

The reality of this didn’t hit me until Tuesday morning as I reflected on the post and if I really was as ‘incompetent’ as I claimed. I was convicted (that happens to me sometimes), because I think that was unfair–to myself.

I’m teetering on arrogance, here; I know. But this is a bit of a breakthrough for me, especially considering that I have evidence. And if I’m honest about that evidence, then my assertion about my ineptitude must be incorrect–at least in regard to some things. The truth is that I can set myself on a course and complete it. I know how to manage my time, set goals, and meet them, whether it’s regarding self-publishing, losing weight, memorizing Scripture, or submitting articles in a timely fashion for other publications).  I can do these things; I have done them. Week-in and week-out, I am still doing them.

So what’s with the self-abasement all the time? Well, I think that’s going to be part of my inventory as I enter into the August tomorrow morning. Frankly, I think I have some answers–not all but enough to get me thinking. It may be equal parts false humility and actual insecurity; maybe it’s also having unreasonable expectations of not only myself but the way the world works. I don’t know really, and I’m honestly okay with that, cause it will give me plenty to consider throughout my last month of summer 2014–and that’s a summer project worth pursuing.

Thanks for indulging me this week; I know these have been a bit off the usual subjects, but writers do that.

Have a good one,
C

 

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The What and The Why: Taking Inventory in Summer 2014

Posted by on Jul 28, 2014 in Writer's Diary

Each month, I try to take an inventory of what I am doing and why. Most folks don’t need to do this, but I do. I require the pause–the respite from life’s busy-ness–to recalibrate, to refocus, to keep my heart and mind in check. But between you and me, I’m not very good at it.

My intentionality is not always affective. Sometimes it just reminds me of how many things I’ve ineptly tried to integrate (or juggle)–Home, Faith, Family, Friends, Wealth, Health, Hobbies, Novels, Blogs, Twitter, Flickr, Facebook, Articles and on and on…


It’s harder to live this way than I like to admit. I’ve found myself feeling relatively low around the third weekend of each month–for whatever reason. Life got harder. Something disappointed me. The things about which I took inventory at month’s open have fallen by the wayside to trivialities or inner trials. I wanted to make something of this month, but goals lay unmet or hopes stand unfulfilled.

Like I said, I’m not very good at this.

Some may wonder for what I’m reaching. Is it the “routine of genius”, having my weeks mapped out to maximize effectiveness?  No. More likely, it’s the “pursuit of the ideal”, having one’s days outlined so as to create an ideal existence, balancing all of one’s many desires and goals with purpose and productivity. But again, I don’t know if that’s me. Maybe I am just trying to justify the way I’m living by placing the things I want to do into a paradigm that gives them the appearance of fruitfulness. That may be closer, but I really think it’s not fully true (I deny myself a fair amount of what I want in pursuit of what I believe I need).

I can tell you this much, it’s an attempt to live well. As I said, I’m not always competent in execution, but I am doggedly devoted to intention. I want my life to matter in regard to real things–connecting with people, encouraging them, letting my “social footprint” be one that brightens another’s day rather than darkening it. I want my efforts in the present to carry eternal weight, so that when I come to the end of this mortal coil, when God welcomes me into his house, I will know I did not waste the time I was given.

In so many ways, I feel that I have already spent too much of it poorly, as if I carry a red ledger I need to make black. Of course, this is folly, and that’s the great joy of living life and loving Christ. I know that regardless of the debt I have incurred, he’s already cleansed me in full and paid the balance. So much of what is wasted he has redeemed and continues to redeem. I can live in confidence of that; I can take great solace in that. I can find peace in it. Rest in it. Embrace it.

And that’s the funny thing. It’s this revelation that I call to mind, that my life is already redeemed from waste and has eternal meaning, that makes me want to live it well each day. Knowing my life has value leads to my actively engaging my time in order to exemplify the truth I believe: my time and what I do with it matter, because God has given it to me to take part in his story.

So as July closes and I look toward August, I know that my life is part of a beautiful ongoing, eternal narrative. With that in perspective, all I need to ask is, “what part do I wish to play?”

And what part do you? I think it’s a fair question to open the week.

Thanks for reading,
C

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Is a Brief Update Better Than None?

Posted by on Jul 24, 2014 in Writer's Diary

 

I struggle with that above heading. Is it better to hit the web with a quick and dirty post or would it benefit my readership more if I post sparingly but with greater depth? To be honest, I don’t have an answer. I know that I feel like I’m off schedule if I’m not posting something every four days, but I don’t know if I should be posting just for posting’s sake.

I have a game plan come September for a shift that I think will make your visits here more worthwhile. In the meantime, here’s a brief update on my other writing pursuits as of today:

 

  • Looks like I’ll be doing my first Toy Review at Figures.com in nearly 5 years this August. I’m looking forward to it, as well as what doors may continue to open on that front.
  • MY involvement on the X3Church blog will likely slow; and as a result, I may be linking to recovery thoughts at a number of other sources, which will be a bitterwseet development, to be sure. I still have a great relationship with X3 and serve as a small group leader, but their blog formatting is going to change, and I may not be able to contribute as often.
  • My upcoming second novel, To Retreat From Romance, is putting me through the ringer. I am trying to wrap my next draft by August 11, a goal that is taking a significant toll on me. At the outset of this draft, I was sure my changes would improve the book; I’m no longer so sure…but I’m also a neurotic writer, so maybe it’ll be okay. I look forward to sharing more as we near release.
  • I am in revisions on a presentation I’ll be making in September: my first “speaking engagement” as an author. I’m pensive, nervous, and altogether ecstatic that it’s coming.
  • I am in the pre-writing stages of my project for this year’s National Novel Write Month. As you might recall, I participated in both 2012 and 2013 with disappointing results. I’m hoping this third time is a charm.
  • Still working on understanding this mailing list thing, too. hoping to launch before year end.

 

So there it is: a brief look at what’s keeping me from longer posts this week…but I got some stuff in the pressure cooker that I’ll be sharing soon!

 

Thanks for reading,

C

 

 

 

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BOUNDARIES and FREEDOM: My latest at x3Church

Posted by on Jul 19, 2014 in Offsite Content

Below is an excerpt from my latest submission to X3Church, in which I extol both the virtues and possible vices of placing boundaries on one’s life due to addiction.
Boundaries are useful only to the extent that they have meaning; a meaningless boundary does nothing but impede freedom, and recovery is all about being free. This is why I treat many of my boundaries as lines in the sand rather than laws etched in stone. As habits and patterns change, so too should our mindset; addicts need to get to a place where freedom is normal again.”

 

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Recommendation: Deliver Us from Evil

Posted by on Jul 17, 2014 in Reviews & Recommendations

Deliver Us From Evil is the new film from writer/director Scott Derrickson, who continues to establish himself as a unique voice in the horror genre thanks in part to his ability to blend familiar tropes into fresh filmgoing experiences. In 2005, Derrickson became a known Hollywood presence with The Exorcism of Emily Rose, a motion picture that fused a supernatural thriller with a courtroom drama to great effect. With his latest film, Derrickson successfully blends the gore of an occult horror picture with the pace of a redemptive police procedural to create a new type of cop movie, even if it covers territory tread by other, lesser films (I enjoyed this far more than the arguably similar Fallen, despite that movie’s inclusion of John Goodman, who is kind of a trump card).

Inspired by the accounts of NYPD Detective Ralph Sarchie, Deliver Us From Evil features a strong cast working with a solid screenplay that is equal parts mystery and creep fest to a degree that should satisfy fans of either. Much to the film’s credit, I found myself reminded of David Fincher’s Se7en as much as Derrickson’ other horror outings, Emily Rose and Sinister.

And this is one of the central reasons Deliver Us From Evil works. I’ve seen my fair share of films in either of the above-referenced categories, and I often find myself tired by more of the same: the police thriller wherein the quiet supporting character who we met in the first ten minutes turns out to be the vengeful killer or the slasher wherein an unstoppable shape murders characters about whom I have no concern. Deliver Us From Evil falls into neither of these camps and instead makes some interesting choices that provide entertainment while also exploring the nature of evil, the haunting power of guilt, and the danger of self-indulgence. Rather than a by-the-numbers beat-sheet of conflicts and kills, the screenplay is a series of well-executed set-ups and pay-offs integrated into a cohesive whole.

Of course, one might be wondering why I am reviewing a film like Deliver Us From Evil on a blog like this. Well, basically Scott Derrickson. Few directors working these days are able and willing to explore ideas of faith and spirituality directly while also delivering a strong narrative experience, but Derrickson certainly should be counted among them. He takes his craft as seriously as his content, and his confidence as a storyteller enables him to create thrilling and thoughtful films. Deliver Us From Evil is a fine example. The cynical will have their reservations about both the “inspired by” premise and some of the more hopeful content of this latest picture, but regardless, cinephiles should applaud Derrickson for making a different type of cop movie or, at the very least, an unusually thought-provoking horror flic.

 

Deliver Us From Evil is rated R at for harsh language, gore, and nightmarish images.

 

 

 

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