Category Archives: Five Minute Fridays

Why editing isn’t just the how but the what  

Whenever I work with new authors, they’re eager and excited. And almost always they want to focus on how they did—whether the structure they used works and how well it “flows.”

But what I find almost 100% of the time is that first, they need help hearing what they said. And without exception, it’s surprising to them to realize what I’m hearing.

We think editing is a matter of mechanics. What we find is, it’s mostly about relevance and authenticity.

More than structure, we need to hear how we sound beyond our own heads.

Picture a singer too focused on all the other instruments to hear what his voice is contributing. Picture a painter thinking only of a person’s shape without perspective and the play of shadow and light on skin.

Language is magic. We don’t control it without patient work. And even then…

Are you open to hearing what you haven’t yet heard?

How else would we expect to learn to affect others with what’s in our minds and hearts that hasn’t yet been said?

Are You Elmer’s, Epoxy or Paste?

Another 5-minute Friday exercise from Lisa-Jo: get it here

Go.

Not all glues are created equal. The beauty of Elmer’s glue is that it creates a strong, semi-flexible bond.

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I rarely use it anymore and I hardly remember what I used it for all those years it sat in my desk next to the pencils and erasers and crayons.

But what comes to mind now is that love is like the glue that binds everyone and everything, the invisible binder that connects all things. And some people like epoxy while others like paste.

From a Christian-based business website, I read: “‘Love’ is a very important addition to our philosophy. Having a positive attitude and sharing that attitude with others…”

Now I’m of the “melancholy” persuasion on the personality scale and I initially have a hard time accepting this definition of the bonding agent “love.” It’s far more than having and sharing a positive attitude. In fact, because this superficial definition seems so prevalent, I’ve lived a long time trying to let go of my idea of stronger love and whether I should change myself to appreciate paste like those who can connect to almost anyone through positivity, i.e. a “sanguine” personality.

Why is it so difficult to give up my idea of epoxy for those who are excited about paste? Why does their desire for many bonds seem so less desirable than stronger connection with few?

Does everything have to be deep?

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Here’s where I think it comes down: do I think the little things in life matter?

Some people might think I’m naturally deep, but I’m not. I just enjoy seeking meaning and making soulful connections. And I haven’t enjoyed making many connections primarily because it’s difficult.

Can I connect over the little things in life? Can I enjoy life with people and accept and be influenced by them? I don’t need a deeper bond with everyone, do I? I’ll still have it with many people, but the question is, could I enjoy more people if I was okay connecting on a superficial level?

Could this make my “glue” more flexible? Even something as simple as sharing the same air with someone could be profound. It’s miraculous to share that and enjoy life with others around me. Everything else is icing, isn’t it?

Exchanging my epoxy with something more flexible, a more “positive” mindset, could make me happier and more loving, able to bond over what really matters in life: relationships.

Is your glue flexible enough?

Stop.

When All You Have Is 5 Minutes…

Sometimes, you won’t have a lot of time.

The words will just have to show up ready, preformed. Packaged.

Hopefully with delicious filling...
Hopefully with delicious filling…

That’s how it is in life. It doesn’t always send you what would thrill you.

I’ve had it happen enough times now though–you don’t always realize what’s going to make you happiest. And it isn’t only writing that’s like that.

Charlotte wrote her first book report on Chocolate Fever, a great book for a first book report, and on the little form that asked the questions to help her prepare her paper, the last question asked what she learned from the book.

“Well,” she said, cocking her little 8-year-old head reflectively, “I didn’t want to read it at first.”

“Why not,” I asked, shocked to hear this title wouldn’t intrigue her. Had she seen the cover with the melting chocolatey popsicle on it?

“I don’t know. I just thought it would be about something else. But it wasn’t.”

“Hmm,” I mused, sensing a teachable moment, “You had a preconceived notion. So is that what you learned?”

“Yeah,” she said, picking up her pencil. “You shouldn’t judge a book by the cover or the title.”

That’s my girl. And I didn’t even prompt that in the slightest.

What is wrong with my kid? This book looks delicious.
What is wrong with my kid? This book looks delicious.

This is the problem: we don’t know what we want but we really, really think we do. It wouldn’t be so bad not to have a clear idea of our desires except for the part where we believe we have it totally nailed down. And we have this from birth. We think we’re the ones who decide what’s going to make us happy.

What really kills me about this in myself is that now that I’m reaching the cusp of “real adulthood”–40–I’m only now becoming able to see just how often I’m dead wrong about what I want and how often I always have been. And that’s not to mention what I need. That’s a whole different overstuffed bag of stupid proof.

It isn’t only me, right? This is a serious problem that deserves some further reflection. But as I said, 5 minutes is it for now. So chime in if you know what I’m talking about.

There’s more on this to come…

Still Loving Ya, Miley: A Final(?) Word

 

Two camps. Two paths. They say that’s all there are.

The low road and the high. Lovers v. haters.

And hate it or learn to love it, no one gets out. Everyone has to decide.

Which way will I go?

The way of the world or the way of the Lord?

We hear of these all our lives and we think we know which one’s good and which is bad.

But it’s not so easy, is it? We’re all in these cages always trying to figure out which way we’re headed, and which way others are going. It’s part are the way God made us. And part is our own making.

Haters wound, thinking they’re loving and that can become part of your cage. But their light is darkness, and as one of the “corrected” I can promise you, they don’t know the truth. And many people need to get free of folks who call hate love. Their ignorance is responsible for much that’s wrong in the world.

Still, they’re human. And they don’t always realize how their words sound. They don’t get how simply opening their mouths can shut someone else’s. And they don’t know all the people they’ll never hear from, never know, never set free because they think they have things all figured. Makes you wish they’d wonder what others sound like some time, doesn’t it? Don’t they want to know?

I guess I’ve been “corrected” quite a bit. But the stink of it is, any reaction from us only proves them right. It’s just like their shock over your new image—it serves to prove you right. But see, it doesn’t mean you are any more than it means they are, and swallowing each others’ scorn, it only makes each side stronger.

So I guess I don’t know where that leaves us. It seems you may fight and blow it off for many years. I can’t imagine how difficult it is to hold onto you with so many people thinking they have a right to you. I think God preserves my relative obscurity as a gift every day.

But don’t let anyone tell you Jesus would ever give anyone a thumbs down.

People can judge all day long. But not him.

He knows hating does no good. And he’s all about doing good.

Unfortunately, people aren’t. Jesus did a whole lot of stuff we can’t. He said don’t resist what you call evil. And for the life of me, I can’t manage that, though I try. I do know when you do, you see what evil really is—just goodness inside out, some love that lost its way. Truth gets twisted. Beauty sullied. There’s no evil without first good. God made it all good and it got all screwed up but we don’t need to fear this. It’ll be all good again someday.

But for now, all we need to know, all you need to know is that the power in us is God-breathed. It’s put there in our tongues and in our words and it’s the very power of life and death.

“Judge not lest ye be judged.” Jesus said that one too, though we argue it away and say it doesn’t mean not judging people.

“Correcting” in love is usually a sham because what’s loving to the person you’re correcting? What feels loved, seen, known? No one really knows. We know love isn’t a feeling but a decision, but Jesus never asked us to be other people’s conscience. He asked us to get in their shoes and walk a mile. And he said to let the blind lead the blind into a pit.

He knows who’s right. I’ll let him sort it out. But here are some ideas I’ve got:

1. Maybe we need to struggle to need him. Maybe that’s the only way we realize we need him?

2. When you stand in authority, someone always wants to knock you down. But kneel in powerlessness and suddenly no one’s left to judge.

3. I don’t know how many people it will take rebelling against God because of “God’s people” before his self-proclaimed defenders finally surrender, but just remember: God never asked us to deny people their freedom. He told us to set people free.

4. Spend as much time as you can imagining all that’s possible when we finally know even in all our “sin” how Jesus not only defends us and lets us off the hook, he sees and affirms us exactly as he made us.

5. If grace is what saves us, may we affirm everyone’s right to experience it. I agree with ending all restrictions on what Jesus made free because his sacrifice was good enough.

6. It’s not our job to save anyone, to set ourselves apart, or do any of the works faith requires. That’s his job. And he does it very well.

And even if you don’t agree and you still hope for a win between the camps, I hope it’s okay if I give up for you and say thanks for all you did to help me see my need to. I’ve needed to surrender to his free-love anarchy more fully. I don’t give up in hopes of anything changing, though I will pray for an end to all restrictions on those who must be allowed to speak without judgment, prejudice or discrimination.

And just remember he says, “Come to Me and I will give you rest.” Rest is not selfish, not what selfish people do. Rest is what you’re made for, next to him and in him and him in you and not ahead or behind or in fear or control.

Everything’s his doing. Give him back your everything and be truly free.

Freedom isn’t always an easy place to live. But there’s nowhere safer.

“Belong” – Five Minute Friday

Part of the 5-Minute Fridays at Lisa-Jo Baker’s blog

You can belong and not know it. You can not belong, and still, somehow, belong amidst the different and the foreign-to-you.

You can wonder if they really believe you when you speak.

Because honestly, that lying thing from childhood runs deep. And you know you probably wouldn’t be trusted if they knew you as well as you know yourself.

Just ignore that text ding and keep talking.

Ignore that email and keep writing the truth.

All day long, distraction can keep you from admitting these thoughts, and by the end you can be so tired just from defending against the assault of need. And you may want to help, you’ll feel it in your toes aching like early-onset arthritis to be rubbed or medicated or pushed through. Damn the arthritis of the heart, you might say, then quickly take it back for fear of offending and having your point dismissed with it.

You can want to care and still feel locked in a prison of judgment and so much potential for misunderstanding. You can watch a video of a man crying about this very thing that has gone quickly and quietly around the world for the power of this very concept, and still know that for you, it’s different, and you’re not some famous actor who can say it because he’s older and become the comforting iteration of manhood and not the virile and threatening version of his passed youth.

You can tell yourself to wait.

And you can ignore that sound advice and realize that if you don’t speak beyond your fear and justified self-control beyond the ding of the 5 minutes already past, you will never say it, never quite reach escape velocity and break the barrier.

You can hope they’ll forgive you and still struggle to put it to words. You can disguise it all you want, but once you say it, it will be said. And there will be no erasing it.

And then, in a flash, you may wonder if keeping the silence helps others believe more strongly in the endless mercy and grace of what may or may not be behind the supportive encouragement they feel. And maybe this, this mystery of love from an unnatural, a supernatural source, has been the higher purpose all along.

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Thanks to Ann, who inspires me and so many.