Posted in Thoughts

Since It’s National Poetry Month…

Free verse poetry is not my thing, I say as I’m about to share some with you.

Usually I like my poetry to rhyme and have solid rhythm. But I often find something about Tyler Knott Gregson’s small, fluffy pieces appealing. Here are a few favorites from his book Chasers of the Light: Poems from the Typewriter Series.

 

 

 

 

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Posted in Thoughts, Writings

You Don’t Have to Know Your Character’s Favorite Joke

When we were kids, my brother and I were notorious for our inability to choose favorite things. We would spend the day at the zoo, Mom and Dad would want to know what our favorite part was, and…

“I don’t know.”

It drove our parents crazy.

I can’t speak for my brother, but I know that at least on my part, it wasn’t stubbornness or anything like that. I genuinely did not know. I enjoyed lots of things about the day, and I couldn’t pick a favorite.

I do have favorites in some categories. Among others, I have a favorite color (purple), a favorite book (The Lord of the Rings), and a favorite math problem (7 x 3 = 21).

But I didn’t sit down one day with a list and assign myself these favorites. They developed gradually.

If you are a writer, you have probably seen lots of lists with titles like, “32 Things You Should Know About Your Character Before Writing”. It can be easy to start to think that if you don’t know your character’s favorite color, joke, pizza toppings, and pair of shoes, along with a whole bunch of things like their deepest fear and biggest regret, they’re not real enough and you can’t write about them.

But maybe you can.

Recently, I came across this on Pinterest:

I am definitely Writer B. It was quite freeing to see that there is apparently at least one other person out there who considers this a valid way to write.

Sometimes I found out about a character’s favorite things. I have a reformed villain who considers herself Extremely Sophisticated in Every Way who secretly loves eating Nutella straight out of the container with a spoon. Another character shares my love of the band Yellowcard, though we have different favorite albums (sometimes I make him come on road trips with me so we can jam, though he tends to refuse to wear his seat belt, and I don’t approve).

But usually these things develop gradually. Either in story context, or when I’m thinking about the character while doing other things, or the like. If I try to make up answers for a list, it feels like I’m trying to force things onto the character that never quite fit properly.

And really, you don’t actually need all these things. I haven’t yet found myself in a situation where I needed to know a character’s favorite joke (just watch, now that I said that, it will become absolutely vital for a story someday soon). Maybe your character loves jokes and goes around telling everyone their favorite. Maybe they’ll need to tell their favorite joke to save their life. Otherwise… You can probably get by without it.

I am a real person with depth, and I often couldn’t answer all the questions on these lists about myself. I figure that if that is the case, a character can feel real and have depth even if I can’t answer all the questions about them either.

If you’re the sort of person who loves these lists and finds them to be exactly what you need for developing characters, that’s excellent. Keep it up, chief, keep it up.

If not, if fully-formed characters just exist in your head but you couldn’t tell me their favorite joke to save your life or theirs, maybe you’re also a Writer B. Embrace it. It’s fun.

Posted in Life, Thoughts

Living on the Edge for Homebodies

We don’t all want to climb Mount Everest. Some of us need adventuresome friends around to occasionally drag us out of our comfy chairs where we’re snuggled in a blanket, drinking tea, happily reading about other people climbing Mount Everest.

But sometimes our adventuresome friends are busy when our lives need a little shaking up. What then? Where can we get that, “This is so different and dangerous,” feeling?

  • Eat spaghetti while wearing a white shirt.
  • Go to McDonald’s at 10 at night just to get out of the house. Or at least contemplate the possibility.
  • Sit in a different chair and gain a new perspective on your living room.
  • Try a new show on Netflix. Maybe even in some genre you don’t usually go for.
  • Knit while riding in the car. Especially with those dangerous double-pointed needles.
  • Rearrange your closet or kitchen or the like so you won’t be able to find anything for ages.
  • Paint your nails a very bright color. If you’re going to go out and don’t want people to see it, stick with your toenails and then wear socks and shoes.
  • If you want to be a little more daring, dye your hair. You can do it at home.
  • Find a recipe for something you’ve never made and get cooking.
  • Build a fort with blankets and pillows and maybe your dining room table. Spend the day in it.
  • Listen to some different music than your usual.
  • Mix up outfits. You know the shirt and pants you always wear together because the first time you wore the shirt you wore those pants with it? Find a different pair of pants.
  • Similarly, go to a restaurant where you always get the same thing and order something you’ve never tried.
  • Take down your knick-knacks and replace them with some that you’ve been storing because you don’t have room to display them all.
  • Download a new game on your phone.
  • Go for a drive and get lost, but take a GPS so you can find your way home again when you’ve had your fill of adventure. Make sure you have enough gas.
  • Order takeout from the other Chinese restaurant. Because there’s always some other Chinese restaurant.
Posted in Christianity, Thoughts

Humans Will Pack Bond With Anything

Humans love.

Humans love other humans, of course, but they don’t stop there.

Pets.

Animals in general.

Plants.

Machines.

Any conceivable inanimate object.

This tumblr post is a good example:

Another example: I say hello to the constellation Orion every time I see him. He’s the only constellation I can recognize other than the Big Dipper, and over months of looking up and finding him while walking between buildings at college, he became my buddy.

Humans are fallible, so their love is not perfect, even in the best situations; love is tangled with selfishness, forgetfulness, anxiety, misplaced priorities, and a whole host of other issues. Still, on the whole, this tendency to create relationship where relationship is impossible is consistent and honestly adorable.

 

God loves.

God is love.

I get the impression that he just can’t help it. That it’s instinctive, a fact, inseparable from his God-ness.

I’ve been studying 1 John, and if I were to sum up the book in my own words, I would say it’s about how love, obedience to God’s commands, and fellowship with God are so intertwined it’s impossible to separate them, because if you try, you’re leaving out something of God’s nature, and how can you possibly be one with him if you do that?

 

God said, “Let us make man in our image, in the likeness of ourselves, and let them be masters of the fish of the sea, the birds of heaven, the cattle, all the wild beasts and all the reptiles that crawl upon the earth.”
God created man in the image of himself,
in the image of God he created him,
male and female he created them.
– Genesis 1:26-28

If human beings, created in God’s likeness, and expressing that likeness so imperfectly, are so desperate to love they will literally find ways to bond with machines and constellations, is it any wonder that God, in his divine, perfect, endlessly loving nature, felt the need to create a whole universe to fill with beings he could bond with?

 

My dear people,
let us love one another
since love comes from God
and everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God.
Anyone who fails to love can never have known God,
because God is love.
God’s love for us was revealed
when God sent into the world his only Son
so that we could have life through him;
this is the love I mean:
not our love for God,
but God’s love for us when he sent his Son
to be the sacrifice that takes our sins away.
My dear people,
since God has loved us so much,
we too should love one another.
No one has ever seen God;
but as long as we love one another
God will live in us
and his love will be complete in us.
– 1 John 4:7-12

Posted in Life, Thoughts

Sensible Love Songs

Don’t get me wrong: I’m all for sappy, over-the-top love songs. I enjoy them thoroughly. But it’s also sometimes nice to see that more sensible ones can be cute, too.

*Disclaimer: Obviously our definitions of “sensible” may differ. Feel free to disagree with my assessments.

Choose – Heather Dale
It’s, like, the most realistic thing ever.

 

Same Mistakes – One Direction
You don’t expect sensible love songs from boy bands, but One Direction pulled it off here.

 

Something Just Like This – The Chainsmokers and Coldplay
A song I heard on the radio all the time last year that I didn’t pay much attention to at first, but it grew on me a lot.

 

Time is Love – Josh Turner
Country music nails it sometimes.

 

I Walk the Line – Johnny Cash
A classic.

 

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Posted in Christianity, Thoughts

This Was My Home

Every year around this time when I read Exodus, I find myself wanting to watch the movie The Prince of Egypt. Though I have managed to actually watch it this year, usually I end up just listening to the soundtrack and that scratches the itch, because it’s the soundtrack that turns a pretty good movie into something incredible.

Seriously. I’m pretty sure this soundtrack is too good to actually exist. And it just gets better and better the more I listen to and overanalyze it. The world is blessed to have it. If you’ve never listened to it, it’s well worth the time.

The peak of the epicness is, in my opinion, “The Plagues”. It’s… It’s…

I can’t describe it. Have a listen:

I don’t care what you think of the exact historical details of this movie compared with the Biblical account. I really don’t think it matters. The movie is not a documentary; it’s a story, and it does exactly what it’s supposed to: lets you in on the emotions of the events.

This song is the perfect example. Regardless of Moses’ exact relationship with the current Pharaoh during the plagues, he grew up in Egypt, part of the royal family, and there had to be people there he loved, people he didn’t want to see hurt. And there had to be people who loved him, who couldn’t understand why things couldn’t just go back to the way they were. And the song hurts because it’s supposed to, because it lets you feel the painful situation and how much faith in God’s plan it must have taken for Moses to persist in spite of the hurt.

And that’s valuable.