Category Archives: story

The Social Media Conundrum

Social media has become a vaccuum of opinions and unfriendliness. It has sucked me in and took over my mind and soul for a while. Especially with the election this past year and the eventful first days of our new President. Having this constant stream of news and opinion without much time to digest is not healthy for me. So much is coming at me so fast that I find myself feeling shaken and torn.

Social media can be wonderful, don’t get me wrong. It is a great way to peek into the lives of those we care about, like a photo or learn some news. In fact for my birthday party next month I created a Facebook event since it’s the easier way to keep up with people able to come or not. I have learned so much about this world, expanding my view on social issues and opposing views from mine.

However these platforms have become a place full of half truths about our lives. Posting photos that reveal part of our lives but belie our struggles. There have been times when I have hesitated to post something because I simply don’t want to deal with the fight in the comment section. At least on my personal FB account, Twitter is where I get more politcal. I feel free to do so since I don’t have as many followers and have yet to encounter any pushback on my tweets. I’m sure that day will come, but for now it’s what works for me.

Using social media also takes so much energy from me. Engaging in this way, especially if it is of a political nature. It takes energy to read through comments or finding myself getting angry at what someone has posted and so on. I have wasted so  much time scrolling through multiple platforms when I could of been reading or (ahem) writing. It becomes the great time suck ( I’m looking at you Pinterest!) that hours can go by and I wonder what the heck did I accomplish today?

The reality is I often look to using social media for a bit of distraction from my own life. I admit to posting things and then checking obsessively to see how many likes or comments were made on it. When it didn’t garner the attention I had hoped for, there is disappointment. Afterall it can feel like a popularity contest. For me it has often feed into the lie that I’m not cared about. It can be so easy to do when you see posts of your friends out without you. It can lead to assumptions and often bitterness about feeling this way. I have to remind myself that a post only shows a portion of the whole picture.

Never before has humanity have so much information at our fingertips. From our phones we can see what others are up to, peek into the lives of those we admire. For me though, I need to step back a bit. To not engage quite as much and be more intentful about how I spend my time. I have many goals for this year and I believe less time spent on all of them the better it is for me.

 

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Story Monday: Hamilton

For the first Monday of each month I like to discuss story. What it is and how it affects us. Today, I’m going to get a bit political as I look at history. Particularly early North American  history.

Recently I have become slightly obsessed with Hamilton the musical, based on the Biography by Ron Chernow. The broadway show written by Lin-Manuel Miranda, previously of The Heights.This musical tells the factual story of not only one man but also the birth of my nation. I must say it is great to listen to while running as well.

What I am reminded of most is that anything we currently bemoan the state of affairs. None of this new. There has always been personal ambition mingled in with collusion which somehow benefits the citizens.

I am reminded that this country was founded by an imperfect group of men. Men who were all too human in temperment and ambition. Their hurts and desires at times getting in the way.

It had to be frightening and confusing for not only leadership but regular citizens. Imagine being back then. A war has just been won, severing us from Europe. From what we knew to a new system , yet untested.

One beset by ego, back room deals and uncertainty. Some things never change. I also see hope that dreams and  hardwork can bring. Benefiting not only a person but so many more.

The show, does not shy away from Hamilton’s foibles. Which all of us are susceptible to as well. These can be our downfall, but also be moments to show our strength of character. The story of Alexander Hamilton resonates because it is the human one. The struggle, triumph, self destruction , selfishness and love. 

That and the amazing music.

Story Monday : The Seduction Of True Crime

Last fall I became addicted to the Serial Podcast, this series now in its second season examined a murder case from 1999. I won’t rehash the entire season here but the details of the case were rather interesting. It painted a picture of how easy it would be for the wrong set of circumstances can upend one’s life.

The series grabbed my imagination and in it’s wake were other podcasts that have continued to look at the details of this case. Who really killed Hae May and did Sayeed do it? Did he have help or is he wholly innocent? At this time Sayeed is preparing for his appeal trial.

True crime stories have always captured the public’s imagination. My first brush with this genre with In Cold Blood by Truman Capote. This book propelled Truman into fame and continues to be examined.

Then there is OJ Simpson case, which spelled the beginning of the end for daytime soap operas. The Memphis Three whose story was chronicled in documentaries and books. Eventually leading to the young men being released.

But what is it about these kinds of stories that fascinates us? Is it that from our vantage point that we feel safe to look into the lurid truth if some lives?

Perhaps it is this permission that is given in these cases to examine lives under a microscope. Those juicy secrets of the private lives of others. The twists and turns of our justice system that can occur.

In these stories, as with any great story, we see ourselves in them. Our lives turned upside down. Fighting to be heard or dealing with the consequences of being pushed too far. Story encompasses so much in our daily lives. True crime stories capture our imagination for many reasons.

 

Story Monday: Reading Habits

Reading is a passion for me. However, I feel a bit guilty. I have not read nearly as much people suppose I do. This has been a year of Netflix viewing I admit. Binge watching my way through several series and movies. There is no one else to blame but myself, I made time for things I wanted to do.

It’s something that I’ve missed in my life. Getting lost in another world. It’s something I need in my life, books. The perspective of others. A playground for my imagination. To stir the pot so speak as I work on my own writing.

I need story. My Kindle and bookshelves beckon me to read them. I look forward to diving in. Below is a list of the books I did read this past year.

My 2015 Reading List

12 Years a Slave by Solomon Northup

This autobiographical tale of a free man being sold into slavery was gripping and tough to read. The hope he had in being reunited with his family is felt throughout the work. I reccomend this book to educate and remember our history.

Pride & prejudice by Jane Austen 

This was my fifth time rereading it. Each time I rejoin the Elizabeth and Darcy I learn something new. Perhaps it is part of  getting  older but I find Mrs. Bennett a more sympathic character than I did before.

Les Miserables by Victor Hugo

This is my slow read. I began reading it over a year ago. From time to time I read chapters, savoring the words and this world. I do not foresee finishing it this coming year either and that is just fine.

Searching For Sunday by Rachel Held Evans

This book was eye opening and for anyone grasping with what the Church can be and the reality of where it is. I enjoyed her previous book A Year of Biblical Womanhood.

Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon

A friend introduced me to this series and I have yet to stop! The first season of the show is faithful to the first book to a T. I enjoy the romantic aspects and adventures of Claire and Jaime through time. I am currently finishing Drums of Autumn.  

Zombie Christian by Sabrena Klausman

This sat on my bookshelf for over a year I must admit and only just finished it (but hey it still counts as a 2015 read!). This book examines lethargy that had settled not only within the Church but in the body of the church.

Do Over by Jon Acuff

This was my first book I read by Jon Acuff. This is a great, clarifying book on how to assess where one is at in their career and the steps we need to take to move forward.

 

 

 


 

 

Story Monday: The Story of Christmas

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The first Monday of each month I focus on story. Today, I am focusing in on the story of Christmas.

It is hard to miss the fact that it is Christmas season. Decorations have been put up, party inventations are being sent out, Christmas music is playing non stop in the stores. Beyond all this glitter is a deeper story. Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy all the glittery aspects of this time of year. Watching my favorite Christmas themed films and specials. Spending time with family and friends while enjoying the tastes of this season. Perhaps a bit too much at times.

In all of the hustle and bustle of this month, running from one event to another that this is also a season of waiting and anticipation. Forgetting the story and reason behind all the glitter.

It is a story of God choosing to reconcile us to him. Leaving behind the security of heaven to come down to earth in the form of a human. To live and suffer amongst us. To experience all the joys, happiness, sadness and struggles. All the while knowing we would betray him, misunderstand him, and forget. Yet, he still chose to rescue us.

As I consider and savor the story of Christmas. I keep running into that word, chose. God chose to reconcile us with Him. He chose all that would follow.

This is my reflection this advent season, as I read through my devotional, as I ponder the gifts to make and decorate. I find myself stopping moment to moment to simply ponder. To stand in awe. God chose to come down to us. To meet us in our mess and sin.

How wonderful is that? This is a story of hope being delivered to us. A time of anticipation and reflection. In the midst of the busyness of this season, don’t forget the story behind Christmas.

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Mid Week Motivator: Five Days Left

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Congratulations!!!! Can you see the end?! All the coffee, chocolate and sacrifice is nearly at an end!

Hang in there! Just more days left! No matter where you are at with your word count, finish. Work until you get there. Stop on the 30th. Take a few days to regroup, reintroduce yourself to the family and friends.

Then continue on.

Later begins the next phase, revision. But that can wait, allow your mind to regroup. After all you need to figure out what happens to the fire breathing unicorn.

Mid Week Motivator: Plan Ahead

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Next week is Thanksgiving. A time to spend with family. There is also time to prep for the meal. Think about what this can mean for your writing schedule. Obviously, things must be adjusted.

How much will depend on what you hope to do for both.

Agree to what your able to do for the holiday. But also honor your hard work up to this point. This is nearly the finish to your novel.

Decide now if you are writing on Thanksgiving or taking the day off. By doing so, this will allow you to relive some stress. And also adjust your writing schedule accordingly.

That being said, congratulations on getting this far! I know that some days it can be like pulling teeth. At times your manuscript may seem more of a mess than not. Remind yourself that December is for revision.

Mid Week Motivator: Halfway Done

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It is the mid point of November. You are halfway through this wild experiment called Nanowrimo!

Congratulations! You have the workings of your novel set up. Perhaps you are just hitting your stride. The words flowing from your hands like water from an open faucet.

Or perhaps the words are more like an intermittent drip, drip, drip.

Keep working. If a scene is frustrating, work on another one. Stepping away from it for a bit can help your brain to process better. To return to that section feeling renewed.

Keep going. Some words are harder one than others. You will be happier knowing that you tried than to have given up.

Remember, the goal is to finish, not perfection.

Mid Week Motivator: Embrace The Crazy

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Coffee and chocolate, the fuel of writers

It has begun, the writing extravaganza known as Nanowrimo. Fingers fly over keyboards, words spilling onto the computer screens. Then being deleted, written again and perhaps now a whole paragraph is gone.

This is the time to embrace the crazy. Follow your characters over the cliff, discover a new subplot or perhaps find that a character needs more play.

Accept that this draft will be crappy and messy. The point of doing this is not  perfection with every word but to get the words onto the page. This manuscript will not be ready for submissions December 1st.

It will however be ready for you to shape, edit your words to be ready for submissions. But that comes later.

Right now comes the crazy. This is the moment to write about your new best friend, the two headed, fire breathing unicorn.

Story Monday: Bookshelf Purge

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Box of books ready for donation

We all have those books that mean more to us than others. It struck me recently as I paired down my bookshelves that there were some books I always keep. And my hope to one day live in a tiny house means I will need to choose which books to keep and which to purge.

After all I won’t have much room to store them. By giving away books I have no interest in reading again, I am giving someone the opportunity to enjoy them. For them to do more than collect dust on my shelves.

Doing this can be hard. Feeling as if I am now betraying these works who live on my shelves. As a book lover, it is within me to keep all the books. However, practically I cannot continue to keep them.

In future I am going to put aside those books I have no desire to read again. To either give them away to my friends or donate to my local library, hospital or nursing home. Yes, I could also sell them to a used book store. However the danger here is then returning home with more books!

What a great way to help the community? By giving the gift of story?