Search

Epic Theology

Finding God through the lens of an artist

Tag

Writing

Amazing Opportunity for Faith-Filled Writers

Hello all,

We’re in the middle of a really big couple of weeks at the moment, but I wanted to take a minute and let you know about something that I think is really cool. Cardus is a think tank that is dedicated to the renewal of North American social architecture (taken from their website). They are funding an event called Faith in Canada 150 to help promote religious discussion in our increasingly secular society. As part of this initiative, they are holding a writing contest with $25000 on the line. There are categories for short stories and for poetry.

It’s great to see people coming alongside Christian (and other religious) creatives to foster a society where religion is seen not as an enemy but as a positive force in our culture. I highly recommend you take a few minutes to look over their websites (linked below) and, if you’re a writer, to take the time to submit. The entry fee is only $10, with up to $10000 for the first place winner in each category, I’d say that’s a fine investment.

I hope you are all enjoying your St. Patrick’s Day. I suggest you eat some potatoes (unless you can’t for dietary reasons), but I won’t suggest the green beer. Drink a Guinness instead (again, unless you can’t or shouldn’t). And while you’re doing that, read about the real St. Patrick.

Here are the websites for Cardus and the Faith in Canada 150 contest:

www.cardus.ca

http://www.faithincanada150.ca/initiatives/mitchell-prize

Blessings

Was 2016 the Year of the Writer?

goal-setting-feature

Hey folks,

Early last year, I made some goals for myself in regards to my writing. I want to take some time to look over those goals and see how I did. In doing so, perhaps I can make some more goals for this year!

Here they are:

Finish my novel
Finish two short stories
Writing a draft of my graphic novel
Write and produce 1 radio play
Write 500 words a day, 6 days a week.

Let’s see how I did:

Finish my novel:

Nope. I continued to work on it, and we are now nearing the climax of the story, but I was not able to finish.

Finish two short stories:

Again, not this year. I started a couple of stories, and read one of my old ones at a public reading, but I have not been able to finish any shorts this year.

Write a draft of my graphic novel:

This plan kind of changed over the course of the year. Instead of a single issue graphic novel, I’ve decided to produce this book as a four-part miniseries. The first issue is written, I have an artist interested, and we may go into production soon. I’ll give this one a half.

Write and produce 1 radio play:

I wish. I have a lot of plans for this project, but they haven’t come through yet. I had also intended to use the radio play format for our Christmas services this year, but that changed into something else as well.

Write 500 words a day, 6 days a week:

I don’t know what I was thinking when I thought I could do this. At this point in my life, finding the time to write consistently for at least 1/2 hour a day is pretty hard. To be honest, I could possibly do it, but its not really a high enough priority to make it happen. That’s life sometimes.

So, with perhaps 0.5/5 completed, am I discouraged? Not at all. Let’s take a look at what I actually accomplished with my writing this year.

I wrote 9 blog posts. Not my best, but it’s a start.

I wrote, directed, and shot 9 monologues for our Good Friday services. This was a project we had wanted to do for years, so it felt very good to have it finally come together.

I wrote, directed, and acted in 1 small drama for a sermon illustration.

I wrote, directed, and acted in 1 short play on human trafficking in Calgary as part of an awareness campaign that should be starting up this year.

I wrote 2 poems. Well, 1 of them I co-wrote with my boss as part of one of our services.

I wrote 4 short pieces on Advent, one for each week leading up to Christmas.

I wrote 3 short videos for our Advent series (that’s where the radio play thing was going to go, but it morphed into videos).

I wrote and directed our Family Service, which focuses on engaging kids with the Christmas message.

Finally, I wrote, directed, and acted in our Christmas Eve Service. Christmas is a big time for me, both emotionally (I love Christmas), and with work-load.

So, looking back on all of this, I would say that I’ve had a fairly successful year as a writer. In January, I was very focused on side projects I wanted to pursue, but with family, health, and work to deal with, I had to narrow my focus to mainly the jobs I was being paid for.

I encourage you to look back over your past year with a  little scrutiny. What did you want to accomplish in 2016? Where did you succeed? Where did your goals need to change to match your life circumstances? Where can you focus your energy this year coming up?

Let me know how your year went!

Blessings

2016 – The Year of the Writer

Well, folks, it’s that time of year. The time we all sit down and think about how different we would like to be. How much fitter, kinder, and more productive. How we’re going to be at the gym all the time and eat kale and take that dance/art/photography course we’ve been looking at but never really had the time.

It’s the time for New Year’s Resolutions!

McCutcheonNY1905
Source: Wikimedia Commons

According to http://www.statisticbrain.com, 62% of Americans make New Year’s resolutions. The top resolutions include losing weight, getting organized, and spending less/saving more. (As an aside, my favourite from their top ten list is ‘fall in love.’ I don’t ever remember having that on my to-do list, but apparently it’s a popular one…)

Unfortunately, only about 8% of people actually follow through with their resolutions. It seems that commitment to self-improvement only lasts so long in the face of chocolate, Netflix, and a very comfy couch.

This has become almost a running joke with New Year’s Resolutions. The question stops being ‘Did you keep your resolutions?’ and starts being ‘How long did you keep your resolutions?’

This can be pretty disheartening for those of us who want to use the turning of the years as a jumping off point for making a few changes in our lives.

So, for me, I’ve decided to set some goals. Not resolutions, per se, but things that I want to get done this year and new habits I want to form. Most of these fall into two categories: writing and health.

Writing

I’ve been really leaning into my writing over the past few months. Between the blog, short stories, my novel, and church dramas, I’ve written a healthy number of words. But this year, I want to finish a few of my projects and develop writing habits that will help me build my skills and dedication to the craft. So, my goals for 2016 include:

Finishing my novel
Finishing two short stories
Writing a first draft of a graphic novel
Write and produce at least one radio play
Write at least 500 words a day, 6 days a week

Health

It’s quite the cliche, but I also have health goals for this year. After a season of feasting and indulging in all sorts of holiday goodies, my family has decided to focus on healthier options for this year. Rather than going cold turkey on most of our less-healthy options, we are going to try replacing them slowly with healthier choices. We then want to add some exercise into our daily routines and drink green tea every morning and our full 8 cups of water a day. Hopefully this will help us build up strong, healthy bodies that are able to serve God and create art for many years to come.

To help with all of these goals, I’ve searched out a little help. I received a Fitbit for Christmas that will help with getting me up and moving each day and will monitor my water intake. For my daily habits, I’m using the app Habitica, which turns your life into a bit of a game, rewarding you for keeping your habits and punishing you for breaking them.

What about you? Are you looking to improve yourself physically, artistically, or spiritually this year? If so, what sort of things are you doing to ensure that you don’t fall back into old habits?

In 2016, let’s all push ourselves a little to be better artists, better people, and better faith-filled worshipers.

Blessings,

 

NaNoWriMo 2015

Writing
St Augustine, probably catching up his daily word count for NaNoWriMo 415AD.

Hello everyone,

I’ve read several times that the greatest tool for getting a project finished is to have a hard and fast deadline. I’ve had several writing projects that I’ve either just started or been sitting on for a while, and I figured that having a nice deadline would help me actually finish one.

To that end, I’ve joined National Novel Writing Month this year. For those who have never heard of NaNoWriMo, it is an international event held each November, where aspiring (and established) writers put aside all of their writing inhibitions and aim to write a 50 000 word novel in 30 days. That’s 1667 words, every day, for a month. There is a well-established community of writers who love to help people on their way, pep talks by professional authors, and games and events throughout the month. It is a caffeine-driven month of madness that can end with the jubilation of a finished novel, or the bitter taste of failure.

I tried last year, and ended up with the latter of those two outcomes. Unfortunately, November is rather a busy time for students, and my commitments for drama ministry, paper writing, and projects to finish meant that I only got about 6500 words or so written before I had to pack it in. I still have that draft, and plan to go back and finish it some day, but not just now.

This year, I’ve started a new project. An adventure novel. I’m telling all of you this because having other people know about my commitment to writing 50 000 words this month ups the stakes. It may be what I need to push through to finish by the end of November. So, I’m hereby giving all of you permission to bug me, berate me, and cheer me on as I take on the Herculean task of writing a novel (in addition to writing a blog and several drama pieces for Christmas church drama…I’m a little crazy, I know).

I’ve spoken before about the value of ritual and discipline in the lives of Christians and artists. This is me putting that into practice. If any one wants to join me, it’s not too late. You’ve just missed 2.5 days of writing, leaving you 27.5 left to get out that masterpiece. And if you aren’t a writer, and don’t want to be, I hope you can find some time each day to work on your craft. I will be writing over my lunch hour this month, with another couple-hour session another day each week. I’m hoping this will cement a discipline for writing that I can carry over into my other work and projects in the future.

Here’s to a crazy month of creative surges and manic productivity!

Blessings

Oh, For a Muse of Fire

Ever have one of those days you are passionately inspired to do…something other than what you currently have to do?

That has been me at work for the past couple days. I am blessed with a job that I like: I am able to grow as I am given new tasks and responsibilities, I can engage in spiritually fulfilling and challenging conversations, and I am surrounded by people I am growing to love.  Yet God has also been blessing me with inspiration for new artistic projects and the passion of new art is burning as I work. Today, I want to talk about this elusive gold mine of creativity: inspiration!

There are many articles written on how to become inspired. As I write this post, WordPress is showing me several other WordPress bloggers who have written on just the subject. I rarely find these “how-to” articles to be of much use, since everyone is inspired by different things. Instead, I wish to show you where I find my muses (figuratively speaking…not the actual Greek goddesses who inspire artists). Perhaps something in this post will inspire you. Perhaps the post will drive you to seek out inspiration. Either way, I hope you find something to light your creative fire.

For me, the muses come and go, seemingly by a will of their own. There are days I sit to write and nothing comes to mind. Some days, I have an early idea that catches my fancy, but after a few sentences, it fizzles out, needing more time to stew.  Other days, a complete play will pop into my head, and I can spend hours writing down what comes to me. While I may have little control over when it comes, I have noticed a few common ways that inspiration can strike.

The first thing that inspires me is often an image that arrives, fully formed, into my head. It can be the opening scene of a play, or a character for a story, or a shot for a film. Like a photograph that I’ve never seen with my eyes, this image captures my imagination and I start building from there.  I begin asking questions about what’s happening in the scene and how I can share the story of this picture with other people. The story may not come to me right away, but if I keep thinking about it, I can usually come up with something that fills in all the blanks.

The next muse that fans the creative fire within me is a short bit of text. An idea that I read can sit in the back of my brain, nagging at me until I explore it fully. I once read that St. Augustine believed original sin was part of the human physiology, which led me to explore the idea of a “sin gene” that we inherited in Eden. This concept turned into a play idea that is currently waiting to be written. These inspirations are exciting because they show me how little is needed to draw out a wealth of creative resources.

Reading stories is another supply of inspiration. As I am brought into the world another author has created, I begin to imagine other stories that could take place in their world. Or other adventures these characters would go on. “What is Puck doing while he isn’t on stage in A Midsummer Night’s Dream? I wonder what other characters would do in the situations provided by the novel. I pull together stories and characters drawn from twenty-odd years of reading to find out new combinations. I’ve heard it said before that stealing from one source is plagiarism; stealing from two is creative genius!

My final, and perhaps most common source of inspiration is questions that come up in daily conversations. “What would a Christian superhero look like?” “Can we redeem the zombie genre?” “Doesn’t it seem like living today is akin to living in a post-apocalyptic world?” The question will sit with me, and I will often contemplate it over a few days. In the best scenario, a story will surface as I explore the ramifications of the question, and perhaps more importantly, my answer. This has led to many of the stories I’m currently writing/exploring.

I have no answer as to why the muses strike when I have little time to write, but they do. The only thing I can do is write down the thoughts as they come. I often carry a small notepad with me throughout the day to jot down questions, blog ideas, images, etc. I have another journal at home where I write down more fleshed out ideas. This book contains information like potential titles, the scene, themes, characters, and a simple plot, if I have one. After they are written down, I know that I won’t forget the ideas. When I have time to write, I can open one of my notebooks and see which idea will inspire me again.

So, what inspires you? Do the melody or lyrics of a song, or the colours in a painting ignite something inside of you that just wants to create? Does your muse visit you often, or do you need to grasp everything she gives you because you know it will be a while before she returns? How do you find the raw stuff that you mold into wonderful works of art?

Blessings

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑