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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

People Are Hard

Why did God tell us to love our fellow humans? It's too hard.

I suppose He did it because only He can do it. It's one of those things we can't do on our own. It reminds us that we can only love others through Him.

People are hard. Even the people I love dearly disappoint me on occasion. The people I barely know irritate me constantly. I read blog posts or FB comments and inevitably someone says something that makes me want to walk away from all humanity, sometimes in disgust, sometimes just from exhaustion.

It's hard to remember I'm annoying, too. That my existence or beliefs may irritate the snot out of someone else. That God made us both and instead of being irritated by our differences, I should study them and consider what that says about our Creator, and be grateful I'm not alone in the room.

Except I often prefer to be alone in the room. One of the reasons I'm single.

Christians don't have the luxury of being alone. Jesus actually commands us to meet together often, for fellowship and building up. I know I'm ignoring God when I don't do that, and I know it's dangerous to ignore God. I'm His slave. He can use whatever means He wants to bring about my obedience.

Oh, but my Lord, people are hard. Way harder than cats, even though they're often similar.

Keep the faith.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Pre-Publishing Checklist

I must first say the search bar on this blog is the worst I've ever used. As in, I don't think it's even trying to find the words I type into it. Wow. I finally had to use Google to get the link to the original article. Fail, blogspot, although I still love you for many reasons.

Ok, on to topic.

I posted the meat of this June 6, 2012 after Star of Justice came out. Took me forever to find it again, so I'll print it this time and put it in my publishing notebook. Yeah, I have a publishing notebook. If it took you four years between books, you'd want better notes, too.

1) Run spell check on the entire document. Especially important for made-up names. Just be sure to spell them correctly the first time. This brings me to the addendum to 1): pay attention to spell check while running it.

2) Run grammar check on the entire document. This one will have you banging your head over every fragment of dialogue, but it will catch some (few) things. Not as many as you might hope. I also never trust its suggestions, but it's a good way to make sure you're saying what you mean to say.

3) Run "find" for everything you can think of, in an orderly fashion, with a checklist. In fact, 1) should probably be "keep a checklist of things to check." Extra spaces, extra punctuation, words that should be italicized or capitalized. Words that shouldn't be italicized or capitalized. If you think of it, write it down and "find" it. Every time.

4) Keep a list of things to check and check them off when you've checked them. I found a couple of things I meant to check or change, yet apparently failed to check or change. Do you know how irritating it is to think of doing something and fail to actually do it? Yeah, you probably do.

5) Read the entire document (yes, I mean that) in a format other than the one you normally use. Really read it, too, not just skimming. I spotted the missing period while reading Star of Justice on my Kindle. Stupid me failed to note the spot, and despite my best efforts, grammar check and "find," that period insists on remaining missing. I figure it's God's way of humbling me.

6) Ask someone else to help. If you haven't abused your friends, someone will be willing to take a look at your final draft and notice the stuff you miss. If you have a brilliant Little Sister like I do, she'll even take a pic of the problem and text it to you.

Well, this checklist ain't gonna check itself off. Got a book edit to finish.

Keep the faith.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

I Hate "Worship"

Had an experience at work that crystallized this thought for me. I was asked to help lead in the singing of Christmas carols at work. Not a problem. I have decades of experience not only with singing in front of people but with leading worship. Part of a youth in lay ministry.

It became a problem when I walked into the party room to see the guy who would be playing guitar setting up what looked like a karoke stage with three mics, an electric guitar (silly me. My brain didn't go there), and a teleprompter. We had no song sheets for the folks who would be singing with us, and we weren't going to practice ahead of time. My control issues gland immediately started secreting. As I was not "in charge" of this venture, I did not take over as was my urge, but my brain hopped into overdrive to simultaneously begin planning for every horrible contingency while not appearing to panic, just in case no one was in charge of this venture.

TT: I sadly have a great deal of experience with "group" activities that are just a bunch of people who "want to help but not lead." I consider many of those people utterly useless in such situations. Harsh? Yes. True? Also, yes.

Turned out, the guitarist had canned music to go with the teleprompter words, but it was exactly in my breaking range, so I couldn't sing for the first song. That didn't matter much because the music was so loud, I couldn't hear myself anyway. I didn't know the second song, and neither did anyone else in what had become "the audience" because I watched their lips not moving. By the fourth song, I decided to "bring out the clown" and camped it up as much as I could, hoping to salvage what I frame as a total fiasco. A fiasco I can't forget, because it's bothered me all weekend. I'm sharing it with you in the hopes this will finally put it to bed.

Please don't think I blame the guitarist. He was doing his best in a bad situation. Just like the rest of us.

My whole issue with today's church music slammed into my stomach. The band wanna-be's who sing their weird harmonies on stage with deafening instruments and songs that not only don't include music for those who can read notes but change every week so we can't even learn it by rote. It's not possible to have group singing when the group consists of the five to seven people on stage. It angers me enough I don't go to church anymore to worship.

Join the choir? What choir? I don't want to be part of the band, and I don't want to be a groupie. I want to use the voice, and the brain, and the ears God gave me to tell Him what I think of Him, and I want to hear myself and the people around me as they do the same. Call me old-fashioned. It's like Worship Group has become the Singing Nanny for the Church. Don't worry, little sheep. We'll sing for you. God gifted us with talent, so don't you worry your off-key heads. We've got it handled. And we've made it loud enough we don't have to hear you when you miss those notes you didn't know were coming.

TT: Wow. Didn't know my vitriol had reached those levels. Sorry.

Anyway, should singing at work take place next year, and I be involved, I will exercise my dominance and create a Christmas caroling atmosphere with the words on a projector, and audience requests, and no electric anything other than the computer I use to Google-search lyrics. I'm not a lounge singer, and you're not my audience. We are in this together, and I'm sorry I helped lead you to believe otherwise.

Keep the faith.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Ignore Your Feelings

We live in a society of "how do you feel about that?" "Follow your heart." "Do what makes you happy." It's called post-modernism, and it's a rejection of Truth as an absolute.

Problem with that philosophy is feelings are subjective. It may feel great to eat as much cake as you want in (let's be nice) an evening, but keep that up night after night, and you'll ruin your health, even if it makes you happy at the time. The immediacy of the happy feeling doesn't take into account how bad you'll feel later, even a short time later.

While I consider this a profound, life-guiding truth, I'm more complaining about my reaction to weighing myself this weekend. That Maintain Don't Gain challenge I told you about offers an extra credit point for weighing in once a week. I'm not required to record the result, and I don't have to do it, but I had access to a scale so I weighed myself. And discovered I've gained 5 lbs, according to the scale.

I know this is 5 lbs of muscle. It has to be, because I've been exercising 30 minutes nearly every day for 3 weeks while avoiding sugary snacks. It could also be the layers of winter clothing adding weight. Doesn't matter, though, because when I saw that extra 5 lbs, my feelings said, "That's it. You've worked this hard to gain weight? Time to quit. Go eat a dozen of those cookies you're here to bake and screw the challenge. You can find your 5 points some other way."

Because I ignored my feelings, I didn't eat a dozen cookies. I didn't eat one, actually, although I did lick some dough off my fingers at one point. Yes, I washed my hands before going back into the batch. I'm not going to quit working out. I'm not going to stop the challenge. I am going to start measuring my waist instead of stepping on the scale. I don't need that extra point, and I certainly don't need such an emotional downer in the middle of the challenge.

In case you haven't figured it out, scales are liars. If you are trying to be healthy, don't trust your scale to measure success. Trust your clothes, your breathing when taking steps or walking to your car, and the encouraging remarks of friends and family. A measuring tape is pretty accurate, too, if you're not obsessive about it.

Keep the faith. 

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

I'm Getting There

I make a bunch of big promises and then stop blogging.

As Murphy would agree, once you have a plan, life makes other plans for you. This is good news for once, as the other plans life has seem to be actually finishing Daughter of Anasca.

Yes, while contemplating something completely different, I figured out how to solve my unhappiness with the current ending of my I-want-to-be-soon-published WIP (as opposed to my still-in-first-draft-stage WIP that waits until I'm done with DoA). The blog will take a back seat until the rewrite and final edits on the last 100 pages are done and that sucker is uploaded to Amazon whatever it is I'm using to self-publish. CreateSpace, maybe? Can't remember at the moment.

My deadline for publication is Dec 20, the last day of Autumn 2014. Best get to it.

Keep the faith.