Saturday, October 17, 2015

long is the way and hard, that out of hell leads up to light

-John Milton; Paradise Lost

So some time ago I read this post...more recently I read this one. They both talk about something I've discussed numerous times with other writer friends.  From people saying things like, "I do not believe that Christians should be reading or writing such content" (about what I'd consider somewhat minor violence) to articles like Why Christians Should Read Harry Potter (which I view as a rather click-bait-y title), this is a subject people have very strong feelings aboutI've heard multiple takes on the issue, and I'm somewhat curious where you guys fall. 

To frame my own perspective, I admit to getting a little spooked whenever I hear 
the words "All people should" or "All people shouldn't" unless there's a chapter and verse beneath it, and even then I squint my eyes to make sure there's no mis-interpreting of Scripture occurring. There are very few things that all people should do. {Beyond some very clear commands in the Bible that a lot of people seem to conveniently ignore...} When it comes to fiction, I tend to think some people should and some people shouldn't and trying to convince people to go against their conscience is horrendously wrong - but so is forbidding other people to read/watch anything you personally dislike. 

Will the book make you sin? Then don't read it. {Or write it, for that matter.} 

For some people, reading Christian Romance novels tempts them to dwell on particular aspects of romance that they should not be dwelling on in that way or in that time in their life. {For myself, reading Christian Romance novels mostly tempts me to grand annoyance at Christian authors, so I don't read them. *cough* XD} 

Some people find that reading books with swearing in them makes them want to swear. {Considering the amount of swearing I hear in a day-to-day life of working with people, I find it tiresome to then read a book filled with it during my off-time too. I'd rather expand my vocabulary, not read more of what I hear. And I enjoy seeing people creatively work around swearing without giving up realism.} 

As for violence...this is even more variable. Yes, desensitization is a dangerous thing, and no, children should not be exposed to it while they are growing up. But I {and many people involved in similar and dissimilar lines of work} actually need to be desensitized. Gagging/collapsing/freaking out because a patient smells bad or they have maggots in a wound or they are bleeding everywhere or bones are sticking out just isn't a good thing. And my own writing reflects the fact that I spent a lot of time dissecting a dead body, and far more time learning about the horrendous things people do to themselves and to others, so that I can know how to fix them. To hear people say no Christian should read or write such things makes me wonder what world they are living in. It is through reading and writing fiction that I work through the things that come up in real life every day, and if I am not allowed to use that outlet, what exactly am I and everyone else who faces these things supposed to do? Pretend our lives don't actually approach the darkness? Yes, Philippians 4:8 is important. So important - we desperately need those things! But does that mean that we should ignore child abuse, because it is the antithesis of Philippians 4:8? Jesus talked an awful lot about wailing and gnashing of teeth for that to be the meaning of that verse...

What I'm trying to get at is that these things are different person to person. Some things can cause one person to sin and not another. Of course there are other things...for example, I haven't watched Game of Thrones - but I've heard it described as porn, and um...yes. That would probably come under the clear commands of Scripture, despite the numerous Christian defenses I've heard of the show. {Whether or not you can watch it without lusting after someone has nothing to do with the fact that people onscreen are committing sin for money.} But for so much else...have you read the BIBLE lately? It is a book filled with romance and violence and quite a few words I don't use unless I'm quoting. 

And this is what struck me last time I thought through why I write books with darkness in them, and how I sort through how much is too much:

and they shall look unto the earth: and behold trouble and darkness, dimness of anguish: and they shall be driven to darkness

The horror of that…but Oh, how I adore what comes next…

the people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined

Interesting how we always seem to start with the second verse…but doesn’t the first make the second all that more amazing? There is so much incredible awesome power behind all this…and so many Christians writers just brush over the Epic beneath…Sometimes it’s frightening, going into that darkness with a story - it’s not safe. It’s scary.

I see authors like Regina Doman wrestling with darker books for decades before publishing them, because they know it’s not safe…and yet oh, the gloriousness of that light when it overcomes the darkness! The horror of the trouble and anguish, the loss in that driving into darkness…evil is terrifying. But then the light shines.

for every battle of the warrior is with confused noise, and garments rolled in blood; but this shall be with burning and fuel of fire

The blood and the burning and the chaos of war…

for unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given…The Prince of Peace

Both those verses start with the same word…and oh, you lose so much when you skip that first For! How much more powerful is that Child’s Name as Prince of Peace, when you look up from the battle, worn and weary and bleeding and sick to death of the torment you endure, and there He is, glory and beauty and Peace at a price too great too imagine! Your salvation is at hand. And how much more does that mean when you know your desperate need for it?

Not everyone can read darkness. Just as not everyone can continue in particular lines of work. {The burn-out time for health care workers in hospice care is five years. People can only handle so much grief.} But I get the sense that so many Christians want to jump straight to the second portion of both those verses above. {How many times have you heard for every battle of the warrior is with confused noise, and garments rolled in blood read aloud at Christmas?} But Paradise was lost, and the way before us is long and hard until we return. Some of us must confront that darkness, must know how to wrestle with it, how to fight it, how to bring the light to it. 

I have but one candle of life to burn, and I would rather burn it out in a land filled with darkness than in a land flooded with light. ~John Keith Falconer

The darkness is here. To read/write it or not does not change that fact. We each have one candle, and some are to burn theirs to ensure that a land stays flooded with light, while others are to enter the darkness and bring whatever light they can to it.

Look at how a single candle can both defy and define the darkness. Anne Frank 

It requires carefulness and prayer, and if you do read or write darkness, I hope it is to define and to defy it with light. To lead up to light in whatever you do. To point to the Prince of Peace, the true Light, that all men might believe.

Monday, October 12, 2015

New Things

I am off, my friends. After living on the shores of this gorgeousness and going to school in the same town for 5 years, I have moved. 

For the next 9 months, Lord willing, I will be working in two rural communities (multiple hospitals and clinics) and completing my surgery, pediatrics, family medicine, family medicine subspecialty, emergency medicine, and rural elective rotations in those locations. I've been posting a bit more on here recently; I don't know how much time I'll have in the future. But I thought it would be fun to show you the little place I'm renting for the next 7 months. (Not sure where I'll live the last 2. I'll figure it out before then. Hopefully. XD)

My new view: 
{Because that is very important.}

My new baby kitchen: 

{ much time will I have to be cooking...? Who knows. I've already invited a family of 4 over, though, so...I guess I better plan on a little bit. And I might move some of these greens around so there's not quite so many shades in one spot...hmm...}

My new de-stressing necklace hanger:

{I miss my awesome necklace tree. But I just don't have the room here. That said - pounding 51 nails into a 2x4 is really enjoyable, even when you have major issues with straight lines. You should try it.}

My new bed:

{So happy to be out of twin bed you don't even know you guys. That's what happens when you get a double bed as a 2-year-old. I've rolled over and hit the wall so many times the past few years... XD}

My new bookshelf:

{"When are you going to read all those books???" my mom asked. "I'm not." I said. "But houses need books. I have to see them there and know they are a possibility."}

My new bathroom:

{lol. but I really like how my quote corner turned out. There's jut no room in the rest of the cabin for them, and I can't mess up the walls with tape or nails. Sooo...quotes go in the bathroom. XD}

My most recent creation:

{It was lovely fun to make. :) I have to exercise both sides of my brain to keep it all working, clearly. XD}

My new arrangement of earrings/cuffs: + guardian hedgehog

Maybe I'll get to tell you a little bit about what my weeks actually look like once I have some idea. XD At this point I'm not planning on spending a whole lot of time actually in this place, I will say that. :) 

What's the next new thing happening in your lives?

Saturday, October 3, 2015

how I write

With both Mirriam and Melody detailing their writing processes, I couldn't quite resist doing one of my own. I would, however, like to point out that just because this is what I do does not mean it's what I'd recommend, even to myself. It should, however, give you hope that no matter how you do it, the main thing is that you write.  :D 

First: A character or an idea. Or both. 

Contract to Time Travel started with me lamenting the fact that chickenpox was a torment that could not even be reasonably worked into a story (the anti-climactic idea of giving a villain chicken pox just...doesn't work). Of course, I then set out to prove myself wrong, and a snarky time traveler who pretty much lives for anti-climactically inserting common sense into dramatic moments sprung to life in my head. 

And it was Love started with me wondering about a character who was mentioned in a story I'd just written, Hope Sprang Up, and once I'd let myself wonder about her, multiple characters and their cultures began organizing themselves into a story. 

Hope Sprang Up, on the other hand, started from a phrase I scribbled in my notebook during class one day - figuring out what kind of character would say such a phrase made the story. 

My very first every completed novel started with me stealing a character my younger brother had created. XD

Second: More characters. 

Contract to Time Travel had a vague and nebulous storyline circling in my head until my genetically engineered soldiers showed up unexpectedly - that changed everything, and the rest of the story practically wrote itself whenever I sat down at a computer or with a notebook in my hands. 

Same with And it was Love. Not until Jaden Beorn showed up did the the plot actually come into being. 

Jim Boltair's story never got the gripping side characters he needed, which maybe is why I don't have plans to publish that story...

Third: A direction for the story.

This is probably a better descriptor than plot. Once I have the characters, I generally have some idea of the end game, or what I'll hope happens before the story ends. Whether or not I get there or get somewhere entirely different is always up in the air, but I at least have an idea to work toward pretty quickly. 
(And it can change drastically. If you saw some of the original sections I wrote for the 'near' the end of CTTT...ha.) But there's something the characters want, and I just need a little bit of an idea as to whether or not they ever get it.

Fourth: Hit the highlights.

My plotting mostly consists of random [exciting] scenes throughout the story appearing in my head and me writing them down and then filling in between those scenes as fast as I can so I can send them to my beta readers. XD The downside of this is that as I fill in, I get to know the characters better. 

It's particularly painful to write a scene where a character dies, then go back and write everything that leads up to that scene, falling in love with the character along the way, and yet knowing the entire time what's going to happen to them, while the scene you already wrote gets progressively more painful to think about. (Then again, I didn't know a particular character was going to die in CTTT, and I think that was worst of all - the dawning realization that I was going to have to let him die, when that had originally not at all been his fate.) 

Fifth: Don't write the ending.

I try to have some scenes near the ending - what I'm writing towards, like I said above - and of course the general direction I have in my brain...but if I absolutely know the ending and exactly how it's all coming together...I have a really hard time getting myself to write the story. :P Part of what I love about writing is figuring out how it's all going to work (or not work) out in the end, and if it's already all figured out, one of my main motivators (curiosity) is gone. 

Obviously, if I get the perfect ending lines I'm going to write them down, but I try not to think too hard about the ending until I'm almost there. 

Then...I just write. 

Music is usually my biggest inspiration...I'll hear a song, realize it's a particular character's theme, and suddenly understand them in a whole new way. Pinterest helps too, though, mostly if I've taken a break from a story and need to 'get back into the world,' or to keep track of details when I'm planning a sequel while writing the first book. (The rest of the time I think it just takes up my writing time...)
Fighting disorganization is usually a large part of first I scribble down ideas in the word document, but eventually I have so many pieces and the story itself is so long, I move all the random ideas and plot details (HOW old is this character and when did they start doing such-and-such...) into their own document. And I can never find details when I want them.

So that's how I write. Basically,

How do you write? XD


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