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    Entries in Writing (13)

    Thursday
    May242012

    One Job Ends. A New Job Begins. 

    Tuesday marked my last day with the school bus company.

    Wednesday marked the start of a new journey.

    Like any planned transition, there is a mix of grief and excitement; anxiety and anticipation. I am both fearful and expectant. Worried, yet assured.

    Since moving to Kansas my vocational journey has been mired in difficulty and confusion, at least personally, as I have moved from job to job with a deep sense that the task at hand was not necessarily the task for which these hands were made, but rather an indefinite place holder for a richer, fuller, and deeper life to come. Even in the midst of those transitional jobs, others saw things in me I did not see, and success where I may not have named it. 

    I have worked as a barista, a youth minister, a school bus driver, and as an occasional freelance writer, having been published here and there around the web and, in a few instances, in print. Of the tasks undertaken, it has been in writing and communicating with others that I have been most deeply fulfilled, and therein lies the surprise.

    My writing work began in 2008, or at least that was the period in which I became serious. I pitched an idea to my friend Jeff that was eventually written and published. After that piece, when asked what I did, I would respond that there was no singular answer to that question, but among the things from which I drew pleasure and pay, I was a writer.

    I had never aspired to be a writer. But here I was. A student on the bus would say, “Is this all you do?” I would answer, “No, among other things, I write.”

    The bus job happened to be a great context for a writer to embed himself, not only because I obtained a small sample of what the “next generation” may be thinking or feeling at any given moment, and not only because I once heard a student ask if Gaddafi was a chocolate, but also because in the quiet moments on the highway I was able to think. No cell phone. No radio. No internet. Only me, my thoughts, and rows and rows of empty seats. From time to time, arguments would arise, but only with myself and an imaginary interlocutor, whom I would always soundly defeat, or so I would imagine. It is hard to tell if you can be a winner or a loser when addressing the silence, for the silence both defeats us and humbly bears our ravings, present with us, yet at the same time distant and humbling us, reminding us that we are but a breath.

    As I reflect back on my time as a bus driver, it may be that this will be one of the most significant and formative times for my life as a thinker and writer, not because of the work itself, but because of what the work afforded me: scheduled breaks, a small community, periods of silence, and routine.

    But as I look forward, I am even more exited. Giving voice to thoughts, long hidden, is an adventure. I do not even know what I think, or what I have thought, until the moment when words take shape as sentences, and sentences as sections, sections as chapters, and chapters as books.

    For now, I will settle for a blog post here and again.

    I hope you’ll read along and step in to the void. And whatever is produced henceforth as written word, I hope will bring about an occasion for thought, an argument or opinionated discussion, a grounds for friendship and exploration, or maybe even a shared silence defined by wonderment.

    Bye bye, bus.

    Hello, pixels, ink, and page.

    Monday
    Sep192011

    Donald Miller's Advice: Love Your Reader

    A couple of years ago I heard Dan Pink remark that writing was more akin to digging ditches than anything else.  Every day you pick up the shovel and move some dirt.  Remove a word here, insert a rich adjective there, mine a clever thought and place it carefully in context with care (Seussian, right?).  Writing is hard work.  And it seems that a growing focus for writers has been telling others how to write, how to stay motivated, and how to stay at your best even when you believe you do not have an audience.  One of my friends, Matt Anderson, said that he once submitted a guest post to an influential blogger encouraging writers to write even when they felt no one was reading.

    Donald Miller has added his thoughts to the fray with an insigthful piece entitled "The Best Writing Advice I've Ever Received."  Reflecting on the books in his library on writing, the counsel he has received, and his experiences as a writer, Miller says:

    In all those books about writing filled with tips and tricks, I think loving the reader is the best motivator I’ve found. And it keeps the quality up, too. We do tend to put our best foot forward when we care about somebody.

    So the next time you sit down to write a blog, just remember somebody is going to read it and be encouraged.

    Even though the work can be tough, the labor is not in vain, even if your audience is small.

    Thursday
    Jun232011

    Excited. "The Right Way to Disagree" Published at RelevantMagazine.com

    I was glad to discover via Twitter that RelevantMagazine.com published an article I submitted under the title "the Right Way to Disagree".  I am thrilled.  Here is my conclusion: 

    John 13:35 reminds us, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” This includes loving one another enough to speak the truth. It means loving one another enough to ask hard questions, to be picky about the details and to take care that our words and actions are truly Christian. As Stanley Hauerwas has reminded us, living as a Christian requires learning a language that encompasses what we say and what we do.

    We may not be of one mind, but we can be of one heart. If we hold our love for Christ in common, God has given us all the time we need to work out our differences and disagreements. In those difficult moments, we must trust that, though we can’t see it, God’s Kingdom is bigger than our corner.

    You can read the rest here.  Share with your friends.  I hope you find my words of value, and worthy of discussion.

    Wednesday
    Jun082011

    Like to Write? :: An Interview With Jeff Goins

    I write.  A lot.  And when I'm not writing, I'm usually thinking about writing.  I'm processing ideas, making connections, forming criticism, or affirming the finer qualities of something that I've seen, read, or heard about.

    This inspired me to get in touch with Jeff Goins, who also likes to write.  He is very passionate about encouraging others to write as well.  You can find Jeff's blog here, or you can follow him on Twitter.  I contacted Jeff to ask him a few questions about writing.  What follows is our exchange.

    Hopefully you'll pick up a few tips.  I know I did.

    You write a great deal about writing.  What inspired you to encourage and instruct other people about the craft of writing?

    I started writing on writing, because it was a subject that I felt particularly passionate about. I also wanted to grow as a writer. At first, I thought that this disqualified me from blogging on the craft, but then I found out that many "expert" bloggers on certain subjects (including Problogger) started out as amateurs, wanting to become professionals. I'm finding that I'm in good company; not to mention, the best teachers are learners.

    For many writers, the hardest part is getting started.  Where do you look for inspiration and ideas?

    I look at what's available to me. I consider the following: books I'm reading, movies I've seen, stories that friends have told me, and what's happening in the world. But mostly I look inside myself. What's happening in my life? How is it affecting me? How am I growing as a result of it? What lesson am I supposed to learn?

    What about discipline?  I know that many writers struggle with procrastination.  What are some of the best ways to make sure you sit down to actually do the work?

    I'm terrible at discipline, but here's where I land on that: Just make a covenant to do SOMETHING every day. I wrote over 1000 words the other day, responding to a 15-minute daily writing challenge. I was amazed! I just try to write a little every day. From Pressfield to Grisham to King, I hear this idea resonated amongst some of the most successful and motivated writers of today. It's not about quality or quantity; it's just about doing it. Every single day.

    Whose writing do you really enjoy?  What bloggers or authors do you find stylistically compelling?  Do you model yourself after anyone in particular?

    For books, I like Hemingway, Donald Miller, and C.S. Lewis. For blogs, I enjoy Seth Godin (of course), Michael Hyatt, and Keith Jennings. In terms of who I'm trying to model myself after, I tend to write more memoir style in long form (offline) and more like Copyblogger in short form (i.e. blogging).

    Lastly, how would you describe the intersection between your creative work as a writer and your convictions as a Christian?  What does your faith have to do with your work?

    I like what Madeleine L'Engle says about faith and art: All true art is Christian art (my paraphrase). That is, if we believe we are created in the image of a creative God, then we have no excuse not to steward our creativity and use it to change the world. My faith is my work. And my work is my faith.

    Monday
    Jun062011

    8 Ways To Help My Blog

    1. Leave a Comment

    Great blogs are great communities.  Great communities form when there is communication and common passion.  I write about books, theology, technology, media, ministry, church, and culture.  Some of the things I write about are humorous.  Some are serious.  I write about  abstract, philosophical ideas and concrete, practical approaches to the Christian life.  I know there are other people reading my blog who have something important to say, even if it is a word of encouragement like, "nice thoughts" or a brief disagreement, like, "you suck".  I'd prefer the former to the latter.  Let me know you're there.  Be part of creating a community by leaving a comment. 

    2. Connect With Me On Twitter/Facebook

    I like to connect with readers/leaders.  Twitter and Facebook have been great for that reason.

    Find me on Twitter.

    There are two ways to connect with me on Facebook.  Add me as a friend, or become a fan of my page that is dedicated to my writing.

    3. Subscribe Via RSS

    Click here to subscribe to my blog.  RSS (really simple syndication) enables you to receive blog updates via email or through a blog reader, like Google Reader.

    4. Share The Blog With Others

    If you read something here that you find interesting or of value, share it with others.  Link to the GOOD stuff (I'm serious about this).  Link to the posting from your blog, share the link on Facebook, or put it on Twitter.  Boost the signal.

    5. Submit Questions and Comments Via Email

    In the left hand column there is a submission form, or click here to send me an email.  I may write something you disagree with, or something you find compelling, or something you'd like to hear more about.  Questions or comments from you can serve as a great springboard for discussion, and if you give me an idea to blog about, with your permission, I'll give you credit for spurring my thinking.

    6. Form a Partnership

    Are you a publisher, content producer, or provider of a important service relating to theology, church, and media?  I like to read.  I like to write reviews.  Contact me if you'd like to discuss a partnership.

    7. Invite Me to Guest Blog

    Do you have a blog?  If you're looking for someone to help create content, invite me to come and post.  Give me a topic or a book to review, a word count, and a little about your readership, and I'd be glad to discuss being part of your blog community.

    8. Hire Me

    I like to write.  Getting paid helps me to put more time in to reading and writing.  Contact me if you're looking for someone to create content, read/edit/respond to a manuscript, or compose supplementary material for something you are working on, such as discussion/study questions.