This blog has only just passed its two month anniversary and already I have the privilege of participating in a Writing Blog tour–wow, thank you so much Raelea Hiller for the introduction and jump start! I am super excited about this.
Raelea and I met through the Texas Area Association of Reformed Baptist Churches and hit it right off as soon as we discovered our mutual love of literature and writing. She blogs at The Starlit Forest, sharing her writer-meditations, breath-taking poetry, and tantalizing peeks into the novel she is writing. She also is a gifted artist and turns her eye for beauty to helping her family run a consignment shop in Arlington.
Here’s a couple of my favorite posts of hers:
As for me:
What am I working on?
Most of my writing energy is focused on keeping a steady flow of content on my blog at present.
For my Wednesday book/film reviews I am
- polishing up a review of the Disney movie “Tangled”: an analysis of the twisted worldview it presents and providing what I hope is an entertaining comparison to Mark Antony’s funeral oration.
- attempting an analysis of the character Loki from the Marvel superhero film series, using his character arc as a launching pad to discuss the nature of evil and how we think of villains in general.
- outlining a post on suffering and “bearing one another’s burdens” inspired by two pivotal scenes in X-Men: Days of Future Past, complete with some reflections on being a PK.
- ruminating on a quote from Moby-Dick on whale-lines in light of the sovereignty of God and unforeseen nearness of death.
My Friday music highlight “Sons of Asaph: Andrew Peterson” series ends in September and I am preparing to follow it up with a tour of my favorite
genre of music–Country!– which is both an exciting and overwhelming topic for me to dive into.
And amidst the blog posts is a stoem (a cross between a short story and a poem) on the struggle of the believer with keeping the “old self” dead that is rattling around in my head that I keep hoping will eventually find it’s way to paper but we shall see.
How does my work differ from others in its genre?
I like to think that my writing wriggles freely in whatever genre it finds itself in, borrowing from neighbor genres, making connections between unlikely friends. My reviews tend to be more story-like at times, drawing the reader into an adventure that engages both mind and emotions. The title essay of my blog is a prime example. Is it satire? Is it a theology paper? Is it a persuasive speech? Is it a poem? Is it a story? It’s something of all of it and I love it that way.
Why do I write what I write?
In the simplest sense, I write because I can’t not write. I stopped keeping a daily journal to recapture the endless hours I poured into it and somehow I ended up starting a book, film and music review blog with weekly posts to maintain instead. Go figure.
Stories are the air I breathe–it’s how I see the world. Analyzing literature and films is not something I have to think about doing, I just do it automatically–like adding sugar in tea. What other way would you drink it?
Over time I have found that many in my church family are interested in my analysises: young people puzzled by a book or film or wondering whether it’s worth their time and busy moms who’d like a source they could trust for the books they are unable to pre-read for their children.
That’s what prompted the idea for his blog. I write reviews because I love the dialogue, the feedback, inviting a fresh perspective on an issue. I write reviews because I love stories, because I think they are the greatest reflections of our theology and worldview, because I believe they have the power to change us for good or ill and because I’m love with the Greatest Story Ever Told, the story behind all the stories, the story that makes our little stories worth telling.
A single book or tv episode might produce months of ongoing analysis, usually accomplished while washing dishes, folding laundry, crafting beads, designing jewelry, gardening, driving, helping clean up after my younger siblings or (most convenient!) while drifting off to sleep.
Rarely do I write a review immediately after finishing a book or film. It takes me time to process and evaluate the message and content. The title essay of this blog came about in the course of a year-long eschatology debate with a friend in which I pretty much thought about eschatology all the time. I would go to sleep agonizing over an argument only to dream about it and wake up with a reply at 3am. There were some days when I ate only because my family expected me to, my thoughts crowding out appetite, the “thrill of the chase” being heavily inconvenienced by “boring” necessities such as eating, and just as well done away with if it was left up to me (thankfully it wasn’t).
“My mind”, as Sherlock Holmes said of his, “rebels at stagnation…it is like an engine, racing out of control; a rocket tearing itself to pieces trapped on the launch pad.”
Unlike the great detective, this way of analyzing does burn me out after a while but for me it’s also unavoidable, “I can’t just turn it off and on like a tap”. So I vary my subject matter–following up heavy books with lighter ones and giving plenty of time in between to process a story or idea before moving on.
I wrote “Living in Heaven’s Shadow” at the close of the year-long debate. “Four Words” was about a year process too, though both pieces had a complete draft in just a couple evenings once I began writing down what I’d been ruminating on. My upcoming review of Tangled is the written form of a verbal review I’ve been giving for two years to whomever asks.
As far as when I write goes I’m a night owl through and through. I have a certain nostalgia for sunrises but very little experience with them. My best writing is done at midnight (oh look, it happens to be 10 till 1am just now as I wrap up this draft) though the content of my writing is always something I’ve dialogued with myself for several days prior at least, usually weeks or more.
Here are two bloggers I enjoy following and are personal friends as well,
Lucas Mackey is a student at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and a former Marine. He teaches on the Bible to 3rd and 4th grade kids every Wednesday at his church, high schoolers on Sunday mornings and occasionally fills in preaching for his pastor. In addition to this he has just started a blog: The Bearean Toolbox designed to equip laymen and women to study their Bibles and use basic Bible resources. His seminary background gives him theological depth and accuracy while his experience teaching children and young adults provides him with the skill-set to make that theological depth accessible to those without formal Bible training. Lucas also happens to be my mom’s cousin and one of my favorite people to exchange page-long text messages with about movies, books and theology! Lucas has agreed to post about his own writing/study process on his blog next week so stay tuned.
Back before she moved to Arkansas, Shelbie and I passed many a Sunday afternoon talking stories over our church’s fellowship meal–much to the bewilderment of those around us who often mistook our fictional creations for real people in real life! She nurtured and shaped my passion for storytelling and I have had the privilege of being one of her top editors and sounding-boards for the novel she is writing. As we’ve remarked before–our email and text fragments would not look good on our records in a criminal investigation, haha! Besides working on a novel, Shelbie also helps out with her family farm, ministers in her church and writes beautiful, thoughtful, grace-saturated weekly devotionals at Called To Joy.