Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Why Do You Write?

My reply earlier to Wanda under the You Know What's Cool? post poses a question we've (Ken and I) asked and been asked, whether by members of our writer's critique group, readers of our work (yes, believe it or not, they're out there), librarians, teachers, etc. It's an age-old question, to be sure, but it's never really that old.

Why do you write?

or, similarly

For whom do you write?

At one time, I thought the answer to the first question was: because I have to. That's not really the case, though, if I want to be honest. For others, maybe, but not me. Time and life shot holes through the sack in which I held that answer. My answer to the second question is: it depends.

The answers are going to differ for individuals, because we're just that, and in my opinion, there's not a wrong answer. There's only a right answer for you.

Right now, as far as blogging, I'm writing -- so far as I can tell -- for four people: Doug, Wanda, Kevin, and me. And, right now, that's good enough for me. Will it be tomorrow? Probably? Next week? Still probably. Two months from now... unless I'm really feeling the therapeutic vibe, I'm guessing not. I'm hoping for a wider audience, although I'm sure it'll still be a somewhat intimate and esoteric group. What that says about me, I'm not sure. One thing I am sure about is that blogging isn't just writing. Writing's a part of it, but in general, it seems more a sharing, at least for me. And then, the quick pat-on-the-back that even an average-to-above-average post, to generous crowds like the ones that have always inhabited the Realm, might elicit should never be underestimated. One of my tragic flaws is liking to be liked. Heck, you don't really even have to like me. Just blow a little smoke up around my hind parts, and I'm all smiles. Ah, now the secret's out. That's why I blog.

With novel writing, especially when I work with Ken, it's different. A lot different. For that, I write because I love the story we're telling, and that's really the only reason. When you invest the time and your self into a story, the story's the thing. And you -- and if you write with a partner, then the both of you -- have to be loving your creation, be more than satisfied with it, and throw yourself fully into it with only a passing regard at most as to how others are going to be struck by it. Plus, the story has a life of its own that is tough to describe, but it still has to be worked, molded, remolded over and over by its author(s) all the while weaving its own tapestry. It's work. It really is. It's the kind of work I want to do, though. And when it's complete and I love it, while I hope others will read and like the work, that really doesn't matter so much. Crown of the Summerhavens and Dorkman taught me that. With the literally dozens of people that have read the Crown manuscript and the hundreds that have read Dorkman, I know we always hoped (and still hope) for more. However, none of that matters in the end. The only thing that matters is that Ken and I love those works with a passion and think they're the goods. With The Legend Hunters (The Eyes of Nimrod) stuff were working on now, it's the same deal. So why do I write? That's why I write.

What about you? I'm wagering that everyone that comes to this site, whether past commenter or lurker (do we even have those here? methinks not), is likely a writer in some regard. So tell us. Why do you write? And for whom?

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This Guy's Funny

Huge hat tip to my friend Doug (DugALug), who introduced me to the humor of the comedian pictured, Brian Regan, a few years back. You've probably heard of him as he's been around quite awhile. But if you haven't...

Brian Regan is freakin' hilarious - in my opinion a five-star (out of five) comedian. His observational humor keeps his audience, young and old alike, in stitches. He's current, he's clean, he's catchy, he's comical. My kids and I often run around the house, heck we do it out in public, quoting Regan-isms. Frequently, he talks about his past, and with both my kids involved in baseball, they constantly want to hear (from his CD, Brian Regan Live), Lousy in Little League. Here's an example of that from YouTube. Of course, this bit doesn't show his actions, and that's half the fun. Better for expression are these bits from YouTube on UPS and Doctors. YouTube has a lot of other bits if your interested. I just thought it would actually help the blog if I brought along some humor with me, especially if it's not my own. Hope you enjoy!

"Take Luck!"

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Monday, June 29, 2009

Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark

Where have I been? Is this reality? I saw this link earlier today. Bono and The Edge writing the music. Oh. My. Word. This is the ultimate boom or bust, methinks. I plopped in another couple of links here and here. Anyone heard anything about this? I must have been in suspended animation for the past couple of months...

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You Know What's Cool?

I gotta brother who just went to Israel. He called my Dad from the Garden of Gethsemane a couple of days ago. Over the 4th of July, our family's having a nuclear reunion, and we're going to get to share, play games, joke, be tender, and hear about his trip to Israel. It's going to be great. Does that sound cool or what?

I gotta friend who holds my feet to the fire, who listens and advises with wisdom, and who loves in action and deed. He's been a rock. I call him outtatheblue, and it's like we never missed a day. Kinda cool, huh?

I gotta sister who has an autistic child. Sometimes, she thinks she's the worst mother in the world to him and his brother. Reality is, though, that her children couldn't have a better parent... set of parents. And my sister and I are close. We share everything, laugh and cry together, and she's been a blessing and a dear friend to me in countless ways. I love her with a passion. Is that not cool?

I gotta a friend who has waited and waited on me, and he still waits. And he's never given up. Speaking of "given", he's given and given and still gives. I'd put this guy against anyone who ever spawned an idea. I'm simply amazed by him. Cool, eh?

I gotta set of parents that have been married forty-some-odd years, and who have been there through thick and then. Despite it all, they still love me, my brother, my sister, and each other. Is there a cooler gift they could give than that?

I gotta friend, who when I'm in his house, he'll pick up a guitar, and anyone there will just start singing and nobody worries about how they sound. They just sing. Same friend loves me like Jesus loves me. Wherever I go, if I rise, fall, run the race, stray from the trail, go desolate, he's there for me and I know that I know that I know will always be there. Cool doesn't even touch that, does it?

I gotta son, another son, and a daughter, and if you added up every sunrise and every sunset that have ever been and ever will be, they don't measure close to the beauty of those three. Could anything be cooler?

I gotta God with grace, and I wallow in it. He lived and died for me. Lived again, even. He soooooo loves the world... That breaks the Cool-o-meter, does it not?

Relationships are cool to me.

Anyone else got anything? You know what's cool?

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Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Wisdom of Ben Wade

Well, not really.

But the scripture-quoting, gang-leading thief and murderer in the Old West flick 3:10 to Yuma recited a dandy when he dropped Proverbs 21:2 out at the dinner table. Forgive me for being behind the times, but this little verse that basically summed up Wade's personal creed, and Byron McElroy's - the bounty hunter he aimed it at - for that matter, isn't one I should so easily dismiss.

Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the heart. ~ Proverbs 21: 2

Boyoboy. I remember the first time I watched the movie a couple of years ago, and how that verse struck me in the theater.

It's certainly obvious to see how Wade wanted it to hit McElroy - and to put him into place in the context of their discussion and audience at the Evans' dinner table. Despite Wade's own use of the Bible as a weapon aimed at others -- a la Samuel L. Jackson as Jules Winnfield, in Pulp Fiction, and there are certainly other examples -- he no doubt meant this verse as a personal self-condemnation as well. As a Bible verse used in a movie for tens of thousands to see, Wade's words are a large mirror at which we all can gaze.

People, people like me, make all these choices, decisions, acts, sentences, writings, etc. in this life for whatever reason we rationalize at that moment. We choose to do whatever it is we do, and then we live with ourselves and love ourselves. We're all misers and philanthopists. Chiefs and indians. Givers and takers. Lovers and leavers. Good-hearted and mean-spirited. All at different times. Others applaud us, and we take a bow. They hug us, and we feel warm inside. They yell at us, we bite back. We hurt them, and sometimes we admit we're sorry, while other times, we dig trenches. We make wretched mistakes along the way and either believe we were right or forgive ourselves and rock along merrily because that's how we roll. We love ourselves with a grandiose self-love. At times, we find it in us to love others.

I like what C.S Lewis said in Mere Christianity. It's from Book III, Chapter 4, "Morality and Psychoanalysis." He writes:

I would much rather say that every time you make a choice you are turning the central part of you , the part of you that chooses, into something a little different from what it was before. And taking your life as a whole, with all your innumerable choices, all your life long you are slowly turning this central thing either into a heavenly creature or into a hellish creature...

For a guy who's made some decent choices and a boatload of bad ones, that's not a lot of comfort. It is, on the other hand, a pretty sobering message. Reminds me of the The Call's song, "I Don't Wanna", where Michael Been's lyrics almost shout - I can only hope that I can see, out beyond the skin that covers me... Too often (and here, the word "too" means: most, most, most of the time), I don't. Seems like it'd be easy if I really loved God and loved others... really, really loved Him and them. Somehow, that equation, m(G + O) = C [where m is me, G is Loving God, O = Loving Others, and C adds up to Good Choices], doesn't always come out right. There's a glitch in the m variable. Once I got to calculus, mathematics never did make that much sense. I was always better at English and Literature.

Which is why I'm on a blog quoting Ben Wade and not Blaise Pascal.

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The Magic... Goes

A couple of weekends ago, my eldest son and I had "the talk." He was standing aside my car, ready for his Little League All-Star practice, and he just blurted it out.

"Dad, is Santa Claus real?"

The whole Santa Claus mythos, I know a lot of Christians have trouble with it. I'm not one. While I respect those that choose not to lie to their children about a jolly old fellow (some hundred years old) that lives with elves, bee-bops about on a jingling sleigh drawn by flying reindeer, and delivers toys in a sack on said sleigh to one billion families on a singular night each year, it's not something about which I really want to quibble. My parents and grandparents (both sides) were Santa families, most of my childhood friends believed, we watched and loved the Christmas specials (there's a Top Ten list I made somewhere on the site), and for me, each family can come to their own decisions about that. But as for Rich, FEED THE LIE says I.

Carson's ten, so he's believed longer than most. Time and circumstance as they were, he caught me unsuspecting and offguard - but don't many of the landmarks of life hit us like that? My son brought his evidence when I rhetorically asked him, "What? You don't believe in Santa Claus?"

"How does he get down all those chimnies with all those toys?"; "What about all the houses without chimnies and with locked doors?"; "What about the people without homes or the ones that live in apartments?"; "Are there really flying reindeer?"; "Isn't the North Pole uninhabitable?"; "Wouldn't his sleigh burn up in the atmosphere going as fast as it would have to travel to get to every home in one twelve hour night?" (Cunning as I am and proud of the fact that you can't slip a Santa Claus question by me, I countered that last one with the fact that the way the world turns, he actually gets twenty-four hours.)

Of course, wisdom being the better part of valor, I tabled the discussion for the night and changed the subject to baseball.

When I was a Santa-believing child of five or six in Ocean Springs, MS, I remember my know-it-all (at the time), seven-year old friend asking me if I wanted to hear a secret. I looked up to him, and he was the fastest kid on our block and in first grade, so I said, "Sure." And he proceeded to enlighten me about Santa Claus, or the lack of one thereof. I don't have many crystalized memories of my five- and six-year old years, but this is one that has lasted. I was sitting on the toilet of my parents bathroom, and I blurted out the same question my son did to me to my parents. They gave each other "the look", and then my dad did something kind of wonderful. He told me the truth about Santa Claus but then followed that up with a story about this thousand dollar train set that he and his brother received at Christmas when they were boys that there was no way in the world that his family or his grandparents could afford. Obviously, I don't remember his story word-for-word, but it left an indelible magic of the Santa-side of Christmas for me when he could have just let me suffer the come-down.

Stealing from Dad, I called Carson into the bedroom alone the next morning while his brother was playing Wii and his sister was building with blocks, and I echoed Dad's story as I told him the truth about Santa Claus... and his wife, elves, reindeer, and the North Pole... and Peter Cottontail... and the Tooth Fairy... and the Great Pumpkin... and the Thanksgiving Turkey that brings presents to good, little children on Thanksgiving Eve...

The experience turned out good for both of us, but it's certainly a precursor of more (personally) dreaded things to come. Right now, my relationship with all my kids is one where I hug and kiss them, go and eat lunch at school with them, dance crazily in the house with them to fun songs, and they love and want all that. But the day's coming not too long from now, where while they'll still want the love in a different fashion, there's also the breaking away that comes with life. That's gonna hurt. Carson's question was the prequel.

Yuck. Anyhow, merry Christmas in July!

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Friday, June 26, 2009

Has It Really Been Three Years?

My goodness, where does time go?

Not that anyone's out there now, but that's okay. I'll write to myself and let Ken answer on the comments lines.

This'll be fun.

A lot's probably happened in three years. Heck, a lot's happened in the last couple of days what with the passings of some famous icons - Farrah Fawcett, Michael Jackson, and Ed McMahon. Then, in the past year: peachy economy; a new president; my Dolphins made it back into the playoffs last year. A lot of movies, music and pop culture stuff. And Jesus is still King. A lot to rap about, right?

For anyone who stumbles upon this site, well, I make no promises, but I think I'll be blogging once more off and on. Maybe more off, maybe more on. Who knows. We'll see. Let us know how you're doing, and...


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