Many years ago I worked for a year in retail after a freshman stint at the U of W to save enough money to travel to Great Britain and Europe. Having talked a friend into making the exciting trip with me, we flew away to Heathrow in London after a brief stop at a New York airport to change airlines. Autumn arrived on my birthday, and I had just turned 20 years old and looked forward to my adventure. Road trips to California (once), British Colombia, Canada (once or twice), Oregon, and through Idaho to Montana (twice), with my parents was as far as I'd traveled.
We'd purchased 3-month Eurail passes for travel, and we were on our way and on our own. Adventure, a few mishaps, new American friends who studied in France and became our guides while there and provided lodging in Aix en Provence, made up those three months of two young women's European introduction.
We were warned the French people didn't like Americans (even back then), but we saw nothing of that in France. Rather, we were treated kindly and enjoyed the role of young American tourists. France is - or was - a gorgeous country. We didn't see a lot of it, but what we experienced was beautiful and enchanting. It's amazing to me that I can say I've been to the Louvre, gazed up at the Eiffel Tower, shopped in Paris, visited the Cathedral at Chartres and the Palace at Versailles.
But this post isn't about my trip to France. It's about recapturing the "joie de vivre" when everything around us in this world screams sorrow and depravity. It's about remembering simpler times, indulging joyful memories, looking forward to the perfection of heaven after having served well on earth. Sometimes it takes a focused mind to recall that wonder at life itself, to search for joy and celebrate even the tiniest experiences that make us laugh out loud or display a whimsical smile.
Too many hard things rob us of joy, pick away at contentment like at a painful scab, and point to the devil's work instead of to those still beautiful elements of our Creator.
Today, if I can offer you anything, I pray you would take a few moments to grasp that joie de vivre. Laugh out loud, smile at a memory, blush at a romantic moment, hum a favorite tune, and remember the One who's blessed you in this life.
Father, I pray you'd bless those who read this with your presence and insights, your reassurance of your love for them, your available forgiveness, and your unmerited mercy and grace. Show them joy, Lord. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
You know those people. The ones who organize "fun" things like game nights, Super Bowl parties, concerts, weekend trips to exciting places. Fun is number one to them, and they're darn sure going to be doing or finding something fun to do most of their down time. Accompanying those fun activities are lots of laughs, food, and experimentation to make the fun even grander.
So. Think of those fun-loving people and translate them to a fictitious character. Do they come off as shallow? Maybe slightly self-centered? How do you create a worthwhile fun-loving character? Is he - or she - clever, determined, sarcastic, giggly? What's the reality in his/her life to make them who they are?
Most of us enjoy fun times and participate willingly in events we enjoy. But some of us are more of the serious types and don't spend a lot of time focusing on fun until we finally realize we're depriving ourselves of some much-needed pleasure - even if it's in small doses.
So. Is it hard to write a fun-loving character? Is it more difficult to write that serious one? What about quirks? Easier to put them into the fun-lover or the serious character? What kind of character do you prefer to read about or create?
And who are you? Fun-lover or the more serious type. I know. Most of you will say "in between", but I know you lean strongly one way or the other. 'Fess up. Which is it?
Father, you designed us with differences. We have the freedom to exercise our character traits in the arena where you put us. Thank you for your love in spite of us. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
I know I'm dating myself with this graphic of Jefferson Airplane before they became Jefferson Starship, but let's talk about fun. A three letter word that will collect an assembly of responses no one could possibly catalogue. One person's fun is another person's anathema. We have expressions that have surfaced to apply to types of fun such as "good, clean fun", but even that particular description suffers by comparison in the minds of different populations.
Fun is definitely a subjective experience. While the overall assumption is "fun" must be synonymous with enjoyment, again what I might consider fun, you wouldn't care to embrace.
Some people consider skydiving or scuba diving or cave diving tremendous fun. Others consider a trip to the Guggenheim Museum or Death Valley the ultimate fun adventure. And still others find a fun "trip" to consist of taking a hit of LSD. Huge margins of difference for the definitions of fun.
Let's also admit that some fun things fall under the category of sin, another three letter word. No one wants to think of fun as sin, but it can be. I can attest to that. And if sin wasn't fun, who would do it?
The above picture depicts a time of chaos and rebelliousness couched in "fun". Rock and roll reigned. "Love" children played with drugs, alcohol, and each other. Dabbling in that kind of fun or immersing oneself in it could have catastrophic results, but still young people indulged themselves in the free love party heard round the world - at least in the USA and Europe, particularly Great Britain.
The repurcussions of "fun" that encompass sin carry over into the aftermath of the experience. We can't always be young and dumb and let fun consume us. Even fun gets boring. And it isn't really the same kind of desirable when youth leaves us behind. Sin requires a reckoning. No doubt about that. Either here or in the afterlife. Our choice.
So. Fun times reside in memories or the present tense, ill-defined in general, but specific for each one of us. Some of us have mixed our fun with sin on occasion and straightened out those issues with the Lord. Others party on with sin-centered fun. What happens when fun times aren't so fun anymore?
The ultimate option? Jesus Christ. He brings a special, very real definition to fun times.
Jesus, you define every good and perfect gift, and you are definitely fun. Thank you for that. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
What's definitely not so fun is the process of getting published. Of getting rejections. Of writing query letters and synopses. Of creating blurbs. Of soliciting your work.
Which is why e-publishing has its selling points for serious writers. Yes, it can be an opportunity for the wannabe authors who don't know the difference between a noun and pronoun, the appropriate place for commas, or the right verb tense, to display their lack of craft. However, experienced and best-selling authors are realizing they can do for themselves what their former publishers no longer will and are packing their audiences with them on the journey.
Indie presses have created new and expanding possibilities for writers who haven't been able to crack the traditional publishing ranks, and their momentum is increasingly valuable to authors in waiting and for those who've grown weary of their publishers not needing them anymore.
It's no secret there are definitely areas of the writing game which are not so much fun. But writers keep writing. And waiting. And producing. And hoping. It's what we do.
Father, you're faithful. That's all that matters. Thank you for leading me where I must go. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
Sometimes when the words don't form, the plot doesn't thicken, the blanks are shot in place of loaded prose, writing isn't much fun. But when the pictures are painted with perfect metaphors or similes or sassy repartee, writing is as fun as fun can get.
How to get from blanks to bluster is the mystery of writing. One day you're empty and dry as the desert. And then your words sprout to life like spring tulips and daffodils, colorful, bountiful, and full of life - or death if you're writing thrillers.
Writers tend to love formulas, disciplines, or like gamblers: "sure things" to keep them engaged in the creative process. I for one have none of these. But then I'm not a "successful" author. I'm a writer who has stories to tell, hopefully created to touch lives. No one demands my time or is anxious for my next novel.
Regardless of the lack of notice or interest, I prepare a story with vigilance and desire to always improve. I like my stuff. I write the way I want to read. I attempt to make a movie within a novel's framework, hoping my readers can see the characters and the scenes and experience the emotion. The spiritual aspect is a necessary piece whether covert or overt. It brings a dimension that can't be omitted.
The difficulties of creating a story, of getting the words right, of seeing it through to its end, can be taxing, frustrating, disappointing, or aggravating. We watch as words fail to appear as we wish they would. But then we get that rush of words, that amplification of a character's psyche, the expansion of the storyline, the hurried clamor of descriptions and actions to fill page after page, and we know.
We know. We know we're writers. We know we love the fun of it. And nothing can replace that kind of fun.
Lord, thank you for allowing me to keep on with this writing thing. It's a privilege to string those words together. Help me to continue. Please. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
Never watched a lot of cartoons, but this picture seemed appropriate given the title of the post.
There's a time for backing off whatever it is we're striving to attain, achieve, or acquire. Call it a re-evaluation period, a rest period, a change of pace period, or a regrouping period. Regardless of the motive for taking a break, sometimes it's a necessary diversion.
Writers tend to finish manuscripts and then leave them alone for a while before taking a fresh look at them. The intensity used to create a novel must relax and fade before re-examining the story to discover any shortcomings, outright errors, or small problems. It's easier to be objective, although never truly "easy", when returning to a story determined to spot those areas that require more work and fine-tuning. Backing off means a writer will be better equipped to assess his work when it's not front and center occupying every waking moment.
The pressures of living life often produce the attitude depicted in the above caricature. We push ourselves into places we don't always fit and demand a constant stream of results, some of which turn out to be unfavorable or complete failures. We react with an attitude that screams for everything, and sometimes everyone, to back off and leave us alone in our particular struggles or projects. However, oftentimes it's we who need to back off. Get away from whatever it is that's driving us into the ditch of anxiety overload.
Learning when to back off can be elusive in writing pursuits and in life experiences. Human beings, in spite of all their various levels of toughness, can be fragile, breakable, and corruptible. We bend to our desires without specific and meaningful direction. And sometimes even with specific direction, we falter and lose faith in our purpose and create a new one to alleviate the stress, only to find it increases.
If you think it's time to back off or to give that instruction to another person, chances are you're right.
If you're a Christian, the Lord is your source for answers and conduct. He will lead if you will follow. His solution might not be easy, but it will be the best. He'll prove true. If backing off is necessary, let the Lord show you how to do it.
Father, thank you for all the times you've shown me what to do. Forgive me for all the times I've ignored your design and direction. You're the One I need to follow. Help me to do just that. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.