Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Will the Real Talent Please Stand Up!

Microphone in hand, she smiled at the group of women as the soundtrack keyed up. I love music more than teaching or preaching of the Word. I relaxed in my chair expecting to enjoy and be blessed by this, but from the first note, caterwauling is the only way I can describe her performance.

Bless her heart, it was obvious she’d been watching too many country-western singers. She groaned, screeched, and gyrated, all the while beaming like she was the cat’s meow. She desecrated a beautiful gospel song made popular by the Gaithers. My ears cringed with the assault while my heart ached for this young lady who obviously felt she was more talented than Loretta Lynn, Patsy Cline, or, for the younger generation, Carrie Underwood.

And so it is with writers. With the advent of blogging, self-publishing, and other avenues that don’t require a professional’s acceptance or denial, more horrendous writing can be found – written by people like the young lady I mentioned. Their grammar, spelling, and flow is like fingernails on a chalkboard. I am not an expert by any means, but I can spot poorly written material.

The sad thing is that most people who truly believe they are gifted with God-given talent in a certain craft are offended and defensive when someone criticizes their performance. Sometimes it’s not even criticism that’s offered, it is advice or suggestions. Yet their response can even border on hostility, “How dare you not love what I do!”

True artists strive to continually perfect their talent. Sure, criticism hurts. Rejection of our talent makes us question our abilities. Whenever faced with this, always ask yourself what you can gain by paying heed. If we were all experts, there would never be a need for bosses, mentors, authority, or leadership of any kind.

So, to all writers and creative artists, persevere forward. Just because someone doesn’t like your writing, singing, artwork, or performance doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t have talent. BUT, just maybe whatever desire you’re pursuing, it’s not your gifting. Examine yourself, and pray!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Is Suicide Cowardly?

Last night my husband told me that Rick Warren and his wife were going to be on the Piers Morgan program tonight talking about the death of his son through suicide. I don’t like Piers Morgan, but I do like Rick Warren and prayed for the heartache he and his wife suffered over the tragic loss of their son. Any parent can imagine the horror and anguish of such an ordeal.

Everyone has their opinion on suicide and most have been touched or known someone whose life ended that way, or who have contemplated ending their life through suicide.  I’ve heard some people say suicide is the coward’s way out – that it’s selfish because of the tremendous hurt it causes those left behind.

My question is: Have you ever been suicidal? Felt despair so deep you didn’t want to live? If you answer no, then you have no idea what drives a person to this. I’m not talking about a trendy gesture some have who think suicide is noble, grand or romantic. It’s not!

I was a twenty-three-year-old, young mother of four – yes, you read that right – when on
a summer, mid-afternoon day, a ten-year-old neighbor girl, surrounded by six of her younger siblings, was pounding on my door, screaming hysterically, “Please, help my mom!”

I took off sprinting behind this passel of kids, raising my hand to wave to my elderly neighbor, Sarah, whose house was between mine and the one I was running to. Fully expecting to see a woman who had fainted, or fallen, I stopped, numb with shock, at what I saw. I first took in the crying baby standing at the foot of the bed in a pool of blood, then my eyes traveled to the woman lying on the bed and the gun laying next to her head.

That was 1971. I seldom think about it, and I wonder why. Sometimes I do think of those eight young children, and wonder if they were able to in some extent, overcome – you never completely overcome – the sight of their mother that day. I have often wondered what led up to that horrible day for this sweet mother of many. To some degree, I understand the deep despair that leads to such an excruciating, hopeless decision. I have scars on my wrist to prove it.

Only Jesus can give hope to elevate us from that kind of consuming despair. My prayer for you is that you know that hope Jesus offers, AND that you are sensitive to someone you are close to who may be feeling that despair and hopelessness.  

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Your Writing Legacy

Everyone is a writer. We all write. Every day! We write emails, texts, posts and comments on social media, we jot notes, and if we work outside the home, we have writing of some kind involved in what we do.

However – writers don’t write for the fun of it, or to stay connected with friends, or because we have to produce a memo, invoice, or report for work. We write because we have a passion to do so, we’re driven by a compulsion. Our writing will be a big part of the legacy we leave.

We all leave a legacy, things that people will remember about us. If the only thing people had to go on regarding the life you’d live was contained in anything and everything you had written, what would it say about you?

Social media has been a blessing to me. I’ve reconnected with childhood friends. I keep up with family members, via facebook posts and pictures, who live elsewhere. If someone were to determine what kind of person you are from your personal facebook, what would they think? Or by your tweets or texts or blogs? One of my pet peeves is people that air their dirty laundry, or use social media to attack others when they wouldn’t confront a person to their face.

By the same token, people may judge our character and personality by our writing. I’ve read some books, and seen movies made from books, by successful writers and have remarked to my husband, “Is this person possessed? His/her books are always about the macabre, or twisted, evil things.”

I write about topics that affect people deeply: abortion, drug and alcohol addiction, abuse, loss of faith, divorce, adoption, and other things. I write not because I’ve experienced all of those things, but from being in ministry for years, and working with people who have experienced these things. I want to, hopefully, show God in the midst of human suffering.

God is still God, He rules and reigns even when we don’t understand or question His existence.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Green-Eyed-Monster Envy

Envy means: to bear a grudge toward someone due to coveting what that person has or enjoys." In a milder sense, it means the longing for something someone else has without any ill will intended toward that person.

Jealous means: apprehensive or vengeful out of fear of being replaced by someone else." It can also mean watchful, anxiously suspicious, zealous, or expecting complete devotion. The last is normally applied to God.

As writers, do we compare ourselves to other writers? Of course we do. Do we envy others’ success? Are we jealous at others’ accomplishments in the writing field? The answer is probably yes, we all suffer from the green-eyed-monster to one degree or another.

First of all, I knew there’s a difference between envy and jealous, so I copied and pasted the above definition from a site titled Envy vs Jealousy. I like the envy definition better as it applies to this blog.

I belong to several writers’ groups and websites. I enter contests on a regular basis. I crave honest, constructive critique. I want to learn and improve. But I must admit there are times when I read winning entries and I think What?I write better than that! Or, my entry was better.

If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, winning entries are selected because of taste, or likes and dislikes of judges. And, I’ve learned that it isn’t always the content of a story, which could be more intriguing, entertaining, shocking, heart-wrenching, funnier, etc, but judges score on the crafting of a story.  

How skilled and knowledgeable is your writing craft? Constantly seek to improve. And cheer on your fellow-writers. There’s a principle of “sowing and reaping” that’s addressed in the Bible. To reap anything, we must first sow. I encourage you to sow seeds of delight in others’ success, and I assure you, you’ll reap a harvest eventually. But don’t pigeon-hole God on how and what you’ll reap. Leave that to Him!

Write on, my friends and fellow writers. Write on!