Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda

Posted: March 12th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Motivation, My Thoughts, Stickies, Writing | No Comments »

20150312_130245I had a dream of a man waving to me from the other side of a river. He looked a lot like me, but he was happier, healthier, everything I ever wanted to be. He was calling to me to join him.

I looked up and down the river and saw no bridge for crossing. The waters looked deep and frigid, the current swift. I knew that if I even dared to jump in, there was no way I would make it alive to the other side.

Then I looked behind me, beside me. There sat everything that I am. It was all comfortable. It was enough. My home was more than a shack, my belly was full, my family happy.

My wife came up to me and asked, “Who is that man? He looks quite familiar.”

“I don’t know.” So I called out to him and asked.

“I am everything you could have been!” he returned.

“But how do I get there now?” I asked, the answer obvious.

“All you have to do is cross the river.”

“I would love to, but it’s hard.”

“If it were easy, you would already be here,” he said back.

“I could, but the water is deep and cold, the current swift.”

“If you give it everything you have, I know you will make it! I promise you won’t regret it even for a moment.”

I turned to my wife. “I should have done this long ago. Is it too late?”

“Not only should you, it’s necessary. That man across the river looked familiar because part of him reminded me of you, from when we were younger. And I know that life has made us older, but it’s necessary for you to have that part of you again. Go, and make a way for us to follow.”

So I jumped in and swam with all my strength. And I could hear my wife calling over the waves, “You had it in you all along!”


Motivational Monday: Famous Failures

Posted: October 29th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: It Hurts So Good, Motivation, Videos, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , | No Comments »

Famous FailureI know, you’re probably thinking, “How can ‘famous failures’ be motivational?”

It’s simple; because I’ve failed. Miserably. I’m writing a book and at times I just want to take my laptop and through it through the window. I repeatedly set writing goals and miss them.

But you know, I just can’t quit on it. There’s something that burns deep inside me to get the words on the page. I have a message buried in the marrow of my bones, and though it aches when I try to extract it, it must come out.

Our youth pastor Joe Gilchrist preached at church yesterday and shared a list of famous people who appeared to be complete failures before they found their way to success. And I loved it. Not in a morbid way where I said, “Ha! You suck too!” but where I could say, “Wow, they overcame so much more than I have to. With God’s strength, I can do this.”

So I found a video with some of these “famous failures” and I hope it motivates you to keep on keeping on.


Finish This Race

Posted: August 4th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: My Thoughts, Writing | No Comments »

Oh God! I’ve done it again. I thought I was clean, but I’m clothed in sin.

This battle that I fight with all my might, all the while trying to keep You in sight.

The things I want to do I don’t, and what You require of me I won’t.

Every night it brings another tear. If only my cries You would hear.

My prayers bounce off walls like brass, instead of streets of gold I’m walking on broken glass.

I know You can, I know You do, somehow I want to believe it’s all up to You.

It’s Your time, Your pace, yet You require me to finish this race.

I’ve seen the Footprints in the sand, the times You’ve taken my hand,

The trials You walk me through to make me a better man.

“You carry me,” say the words on the plaque,

Then why am I walking through this trial instead of riding on Your back.

The sores are on my feet, the blisters on my hands,

If I’m truly Your son, then where’s the promised Land?

I slip, I fall, but still my name I hear You call.

And I want too, I need too, climb to where You are,

But just when You’re within reach You raise the bar.

You beckon and plead, “Surrender your will so I can meet Your need.

I will plant inside you the incorruptible seed.”

Yet my will I won’t concede.

Because I’m my own. I’m grown, reaping the seeds I’ve sown.

I’ve spit in Your face, taken what was holy and made it a disgrace.

But You’re ever relentless in Your pursuit of me,

And Your Word says it’s when I’m weak You’re mighty.

Only Your children receive the rod of correction.

And so You break my will, my strength, my mind,

So that to all else but You I’m blind.

So I need You to hold me and never let me go,

Because I’m prone to wander, to leave this faith I know.

Show me mercy, wisdom and guide me in truth,

Grant me the boldness to proclaim my love for You.

Teach me to have open hands to give what I’ve received,

Let my love for my enemies be the evidence that I believe.

That at the my end You may say, “Well done.”

Let it not be my glory I seek, but to be like Your Son.


A hero of mine, Ray Bradbury, died yesterday

Posted: June 6th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: My Thoughts, Videos, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

A hero of mine, Ray Bradbury, died yesterday (1920-2012).

I remember picking up “Something Wicked This Way Comes” for $0.75 from a used book store in Ottawa, Canada the Spring of 2010. Beth was there for business and I tagged along for the day and had time to burn. I opened to the Prologue and read, “First of all, it was October, a rare month for boys. But there be bad and good, as the pirates say.”

That’s all it took.

I devoured it over the next several hours, and many times since. It’s a restaurant I love to visit when I want something divine that melts in my mouth. And if I don’t have time for the full meal, I stop in and grab a paragraph for dessert knowing that wherever my finger lands on the page, it will be the sweetest.

The world is less bright today with him gone.

If you aren’t familiar with Bradbury, he has written such works as “Fahrenheit 451,” “The Martian Chronicles,” and my favorite book of all time, “Something Wicked This Way Comes.” I have read many books, hundreds, and his writing leaves me speechless every time I read it. The way he creates scenes with his words, meaning from his metaphors, and depth of character leaves me in awe.

And none of it is contrived because Bradbury loved.

He loved books and the words that made them. He loved people, butterflies, and even the things that scared him.

And he wrote these things.

Here is an interview with Ray Bradbury that I love to watch. Maybe in hearing him talk about what he loves, he will inspire you,

“Now, remember this: Love is at the center of your life. The things that you do should be things that you love, and things that you love should be things that you do.”


Looking For Time? I found it.

Posted: April 24th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: My Thoughts, Writing | 3 Comments »

I keep notebooks; it’s an OCD thing for me. I like to write things down, what can I say. In January, I was looking through a notebook from 2008 and the entry went something like this:

It’s almost December, and I really wanted to have TSDI (a book I was writing) done before the end of the year. I’m only half way. I just can’t seem to find the time.”

Looks like I never did find the time, because four years later it sits unfinished at page 108.

Spending more time with Beth and the kids and exercising are other things that I have not done much about for the past few years. And why not? Again, I could not “find the time.” It was as though some mythological time keeper had stolen the extra hours I needed to write a novel, run a few miles, take my wife out to dinner, or get a couple of credit hours in. If I could but locate them I would be able to do these things.

It’s a lie. A farce. Those extra hours don’t exist, so stop looking. You will NEVER find them. Depressing huh?

A tad, but what is more depressing is the amount of hours I wasted every day. Whether it was TV, just chilling, checking facebook, or fantasy football/baseball, I let these pointless activities rule my life. It’s not that I didn’t want to get up and accomplish something of meaning, it’s just that writing a novel is hard. It takes time and mental focus. It’s, dare I say, w**k.

If you follow me at all, you know that I am spending quality time with Beth, writing, and exercising regularly. Did I find the time gremlin and beat him senseless until he gave me more time? No.

I made time.

I have the same twenty-four hours per day as always, but now I am intentional. My life is measurably better than before. Where I could find no time before for the things of meaning, I now make time for Beth, spend 3-4 hours a week to exercise, and  5-8 hours a week to write. That’s over a twelve hours a week I am more intentional about. Even now, as I write this, the TV is off. The old me reacted to life, the new me takes action and gets things done.

You can do it too! Here are a few tips on making time for the important things YOU want to do. (Please leave any tips you have in the comments!)

1: Turn the dish/cable off. This was huge for me. It used to always be on in the background and before I knew it, I was watching absolutely  nothing of merit. We have Netflix now so we can watch movies now and then, and a few TV series, but it no longer has the control it used to.

2: Be productive on your breaks at work. I get get two fifteen minute breaks at work in an eight hour day. Before I used to surf the internet or walk to the post office, but now I used that time for non-novel writing. Monday and Wednesday I work on posts for this blog. Tuesday and Friday I work on short stories. Thursday I write posts or add new publishers to my writing blog (christianwriterscorner.wordpress.com).

3: Make time for things that matter ten years from now. For me, it’s exercise. I must exercise 3-4 days a week. Why? Because when my kids are teenagers, I want to be able to run around a basketball court or soccer field with them without going into cardiac arrest.

4. Motivate yourself. Find what motivates you and put it in front of your face every day. My motivation is that I want to end the cycle of of being a dreamer in my life so I don’t pass it on to my kids. I want to encourage them to dream huge dreams, but not to stop there. They need to do the work. I don’t want them years for now to start things and not finish because I never did. I want to show them that it doesn’t matter how smart you are, or how much potential people think you have, if you don’t work hard and finish you won’t get anywhere in life.

5. Do it now. This used to kill me. Beth would tell me something needed to be fixed, and I never found time to do it. My kids wanted to play ball, but something else was going on, so I would put it off until later. Now, if at all possible, I stop, and get it done. I may not have an hour to throw the ball with Jaivin, but he’s never complained about me saying, “Get the gloves, but I only have a few minutes.”

Remember, you’ll never find time for anything. If you want to get it done, you will have to make time.

What are some of the ways you make time for the important things in your life?

——————————

I wanted to leave you not only with a question, but with some quotes that I hope will motivate you the way they have me:

In truth, people can generally make time for what they choose to do; it is not really the time but the will that is lacking.

~ Sir John Lubbock

 

Time is an equal opportunity employer. Each human being has exactly the same number of hours and minutes every day. Rich people can’t buy more hours. Scientists can’t invent new minutes. And you can’t save time to spend it on another day. Even so, time is amazingly fair and forgiving. No matter how much time you’ve wasted in the past, you still have an entire tomorrow.

~ Denis Waitley

 

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

~ Steve Jobs

 

Much may be done in those little shreds and patches of time which every day produces, and which most men throw away.

~ Charles Caleb Colton

 

He who every morning plans the transaction of the day and follows out the plan, carries a thread that will guide him through the labyrinth of the most busy life.

~ Victor Hugo

 

For disappearing acts, it’s hard to beat what happens to the eight hours supposedly left after eight of sleep and eight of work.

~ Doug Larson

 

Don’t wait. The time will never be just right.

~ Napoleon Hill

 

Until you value yourself, you will not value your time. Until you value your time, you will not do anything with it.

~ M. Scott Peck

 

Yesterday is a canceled check; tomorrow is a promissory note; today is the only cash you have – so spend it wisely.

~ Kay Lyons

 

Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michaelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson and Albert Einstein.

~ H. Jackson Brown

 

If you want to make good use of your time, you’ve got to know what’s most important and then give it all you’ve got.

~ Lee Iacocca

 


Be Careful What You Wish For

Posted: April 21st, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: My Thoughts, Writing | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

Man with writer's blockI stood on the dock and cast my line for at least the three hundredth time. Hours had past since my last bite and I’d almost lost interest in catching anything. It wasn’t bad to clean my limit of small mouth bass, but to clean just one sounded like work. My mind drifted to the novel I’d been working on for several years but could never quite find the time to write.

As I reeled in the line for the last time, I worked the bait with a slight jig. I felt a tug on the line. It wasn’t the staccato twitch of a nibble, but the slow easy pull of thick weeds. That’s where the monsters are. I saw my “weed fish” slowly surface and creep toward me like a stalking sea dinosaur. Something in it glimmered as the high sun reflected off it. I removed the inanimate beast from my line and extracted a small lamp from its belly. I wiped it clean of sea slime to see if it had any worth, and out came a genie!

“I will grant you one wish!” he proclaimed.

Not one to be without speech or opinion, I answered without hesitation, “I have a book I’ve been working on for years. I wish I could write like the pros!”

“Your wish is my command.” Smoke poured from his hands until it engulfed the entire dock. A hurricane force wind blew me backward. When the smoke cleared I found myself sitting at the desk in my office.

“That’s it? I’m a pro now?” I dried my wet hands on my jeans then placed them on the keyboard of my laptop and began to type. “The sun scorched Ernest through his sweat drenched shirt.” I paused, surprised at how freely the line came to me, then placed my fingers back on the keys.

Nothing.

I glared at the genie. “What’s the problem? I thought you were powerful. Where are the words? Why are they not coming to me?” I stood in disgust and headed for the door but was stopped short by a tug on my leg. I looked down. My leg was shackled to the desk.

“What’s this about? Am I a prisoner in my own home?”

“You wished to write like a pro, and you will. However, there is no magic that can accomplish this. You are bound to this desk every day until you have written for two hours. Only then will your shackles be loosed. Any time you stop writing, the will the clock will stop until all of the required time has been spent writing. And so it will be until you are, as you say, a “pro.”

“Wow. It sounds more like a prison sentence.”

“It was your wish. The good news is that once you are a pro, you will write four to six hours a day with no shackles. If I were you, I’d start writing.”

And with that, he vanished.

———————————————————————————————————-

I am writing a novel, which is more work than anything I have ever done before. This short story was written when I realized what it would take to be a successful author. I hope you enjoyed it, and know that anything worth doing takes work. There is no easy way, even when you love it.

 


My Problem

Posted: March 15th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: My Thoughts, Writing | 2 Comments »

So, I have been on my laptop writing for awhile tonight and my wife Beth is on the couch watching American Idol and asks, “How’s your writing going?

“I wrote a post for the blog, but didn’t like it, so I deleted it.”

“I thought you were working on your book.”

“Nope, I was writing a post about writing my book, but I thought it was crap, so I deleted it.”

“Baby, why’d you do that? You just wasted all that time (by deleting it), and it was probably great. That’s the problem you know. You critique everything to death and then you end up not doing anything.”

Wow, spot on babe. Really.

Thinking about it now, the blog post was probably OK. It was about 450 words of inspiration and motivation sweetly sewn together with metaphor. But she was right. And I encourage you not to think your way out of your dreams. Don’t over analyze until you make your dream into some impossible quest.

As for me? This post is done, and I’m going to work on the novel now.


Christopher Hopper releases The White Lion Chronicles on ebook!

Posted: February 25th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Book Reviews, My Thoughts, Writing | No Comments »

Rise of the Dibor - The White Lion Chronicles by Christopher HopperAuthor (and friend) Christopher Hopper has released his White Lion Chronicles on ebook! I loved this coming of age story which follows a group of youths chosen to protect their kingdom from impending doom from an evil they never knew existed.  Though written for the young adult audience, the writing and story were on par with any adult Christian fiction you would pick up. I found several spiritual truths along the way, and the presentation was impeccable.

All three books are available, so there’s no waiting a year for the next installment. I for one will be re-reading them on my Kindle.  A few links:

Christopher’s blog, Buy the Kindle version, Buy at Smashwords


I’m At Your Door

Posted: February 11th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: My Thoughts, Writing | 5 Comments »

Here’s a little ditty I wrote yesterday. I hope it makes you think.

I’m At Your Door

I’m exhausted and I don’t have a place to call my own. Home is anywhere I can sleep without being run out or chased away. My last warm meal was a week ago. I was downtown and a couple came out of a restaurant laughing, until the woman saw me. Our eyes didn’t meet at first ‘cause I was focused on the doggie bag in her hand. She pulled her companion over and gave me what was left of their dinner.

I don’t like people’s pity, but I hadn’t eaten in a couple days.

And now here I am, on your porch. It’s a desperate move I know, but that’s what I am: Desperate.

You hear me outside your door.

Footsteps. I hope you don’t yell at me like that last guy.

The door opens and you can see the pain and sorrow in my eyes. You tell me to hold on a minute and close the door. I know it’s too much to ask to come in. On returning, you give me a bowl of something that tastes like heaven, and a blanket which I will take out of sight and sleep with.

I leave the blanket and bowl for a moment before passing out for the night and walk up to the door. I give it a scratch, then a polite “meow.” It’s the only thanks I can give, though I’m sure you didn’t hear it.

****

I’m exhausted and I don’t have a place to call my own. Home is anywhere I can sleep without being run out or chased away. My last warm meal was a week ago. I was downtown and a couple came out of a restaurant laughing, until the woman saw me. Our eyes didn’t meet at first ‘cause I was focused on the doggie bag in her hand. She pulled her companion over and gave me what was left of their dinner.

I don’t like people’s pity, but I hadn’t eaten in a couple days.

And now here I am, on your porch. It’s a desperate move I know, but that’s what I am: Desperate.

You hear me outside your door.

Footsteps. I hope you don’t yell at me like that last guy.

The door opens and you can see the pain and sorrow in my eyes.

“Get out of here before I call the cops. Bum!”

“I-I-I just wanted something to eat,” I plea. But I hear you yelling at your kids to go into the other room.

Maybe the next guy will understand. Maybe he will have compassion.

On my way off your porch I see cat sleeping under a bush on a blanket, and an empty bowl at the bottom of the steps.

“Sleep well little buddy,” I say, but he doesn’t wake.


Make It Your Own

Posted: January 19th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: My Thoughts, Writing | 3 Comments »

I’m writing a novel, and in doing so, I have read and absorbed a great amount of advice on writing. One topic that comes up frequently in writing forums is, “I have a great idea, but it’s not original. It’s like Stephen King meets Nicholas Sparks.”

Okay, maybe not that last part exactly, but you get the idea.

Let me set you free, there is no such thing as a completely new or original idea. Most innovations are improvements on something that already exists. In the example above, the novel isn’t a copy of King or of Sparks, it’s a marriage of the two. The author found something he liked about both styles and genres and combined them to make it his own. When this is done, it can be a train wreck, or it can be the next Harry Potter. What made this series so popular wasn’t the base idea, which is simply a coming of age story, but how British author J. K. Rowling delivered it.

And that is how our world is made beautiful, by people finding something beautiful and making it their own by adding a little bit of their personality and style.

Here is an incredible example I found, and the inspiration for this post. It’s solo cellist Kevin Olusola adding his own flavor to the song Julie-O and making it his own. Enjoy!