Thursday, January 30, 2014

Marvel's "The Avengers" (Part I)

I don't know what it is about the Marvel superhero movies that makes me love them. I'd almost rather watch one of them than anything else.

The paradox is that as much as I love these movies, I also hate them.

Here's why.

I'm a writer, a poet, now a published author. Watching a movie or reading a novel that is a phenomenal work in staying power, epic grandeur, in-depth characterization, genuine theme, and all the rest, drives me green with envy.

I want to be able to write like that. Something that readers keep reading into the night, long after they should have fallen asleep, because they can't stand not to know what comes next. Something that makes the characters come to life, so that readers "rejoice with those [characters] who rejoice, and mourn with those who mourn" (Romans 12:15).

Books that fall into this category for me include Little Women by Louisa May Alcott and Into the Darkness by Barbara Michaels, among others.

Usually I envy movies more than novels because I'm a visual person, so whatever I watch stays with me longer and affects me more viscerally: the Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Hobbit movies, any of the Marvel superhero movies, Apollo 13, Step Up.

I envy Marvel's The Avengers. I don't watch it very often because it drives me crazy with dismay and depression: Will I ever be able to write like that?

I once read a book by a Christian author who wrote that moments of discontentment remind us that this fallen world is not what we were meant to experience. It's supposed to drive us to do our best with what we have during our time on earth.

I didn't like that. Too neat for me. Maybe true, but so far, I haven't found a way to channel my discontentment with my inadequacies into the kind of productivity I know I'll need if I'm ever going to turn out something as spectacularly staying and genuine as all these books and movies I envy.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Email Signatures and Internal Dialogue

Email signatures look so official. Those automatic signatures or company titles and designations people create to conclude their emails.

I was really excited when I created my first signature. It said that I was a freelance editor and proofreader, and it gave the name of my business and my website.

Lately, though, I've been wondering. Do I want to be known only for being a freelance editor and proofreader? Is there more to me than that? More that I want others to know about me when they open my email?

So, with terror and elation, I changed my signature this week.

Now, it looks like this:

My Name
Author, Poet, Freelance Editor and Proofreader

And then my blog link and website link.

I feel presumptuous.

My internal critic says, "Wait a second, you're not an author until you've written something."

Well, I reply, I HAVE written something. I wrote a terrible Christian romance novel, when I was in high school.

"That doesn't count," my critic counters. "You need to have something PUBLISHED."

I've HAD something published: four poems.

"But no fiction or nonfiction."

Not for lack of trying. What am I supposed to put? "Writer, Poet, . . ."?

"You're not really a writer, either. Writers actually write. You procrastinate."

All right, so I need another blue chip.

"Deny it."

I can't. But . . . I remember something that makes me smile. I'm writing for this blog. And it's published.

So far, my internal critic has stayed silent.

Point for me.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

New Year Goals, Regrets, and Themes

I'm the kind of person who fights the temptation to carry regrets into the new year. It's supposed to be that proverbial blank slate, although there's nothing spectacularly different about January 1 versus December 31 that I've seen.

I'm trying to decide how NOT to keep lugging my regrets around with me. Like the relationship that ended badly this summer. Or the times I've slipped in my recovery process. Or that I still lack boundaries with dysfunctional people.

For a lot of people, New Year's is about resolutions, long lists of "I resolve to do X-Y-Z," or "I resolve NOT to do X-Y-Z."

I made resolutions when I was younger, and then got depressed because my resolve didn't last.

Now I make goals, instead. Then I've got something to work toward, but I don't feel like a failure if I don't meet one.

Still, I'm thinking this year about breaking my goals down into objectives. For Goal #1, maybe I'll have three objectives to accomplish so I can actually *achieve* Goal #1.

Right now, my goals look impossible. "Start getting regular exercise," for example. People keep telling me that my mood, energy, and overall health would benefit from spending time in the sunshine. I'm sure they would. I just also know that it isn't easy breaking twenty-plus years of having rarely exercised to suddenly take up something athletic and stay committed.

Or "Finish writing a book." I've got half a million books started (okay, not that many). I've only ever finished a few. Like, fewer than the number of fingers on one hand.

I also try to have a theme for the year, usually a Bible verse, or something that can be backed up with Scripture.

This year, I like "Don't just do something . . . stand there!"

Or, "Be still and know that I am God" (Psalm 46:10 NIV).