Friday, June 30, 2017

Project Marun 544: Weeks 11-20

It's been ten weeks now since I introduced you to the photography project I'm doing with one of my best friends, Janan, we call Project Marun 544! That was a fast ten weeks! Well, twenty weeks, honestly! Feel free to look back and read it/see my first ten weeks of pictures here!

I'll be the first to admit... some of my weeks of photographing according to theme have been very procrastinated and haphazard. You can probably guess which weeks I'm referring to just based on the pictures. Haha.

Nevertheless. It's good for me, you know? Being purposeful about growing and nurturing a skill I do wish to grow and develop. Finding my own style of shooting + editing. Trying to analyze and produce something to draw a viewer's emotions. I'm so thinking > feeling. So math > art. Sometimes the art side of photography... it just doesn't come naturally. I've gone through phases like this in other things, too... like personal devotions. Some seasons of life have been dry and personal, daily devotions have fallen to the wayside because I don't "feel" like I'm getting anything out of it. Let me not be a person like that. You won't magically find the ocean when you give up walking in the middle of the desert. That's kind of what "pressing on" means to me.

Week 11: Out of Focus

Week 12: Three of a Kind

Week 13: Brick

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Five Top Writing Tips (From an Editor)

“Did I hear you say you’re an editor?” Yes, indeed. It’s one of the many hats I wear. What’s not to like, though?! I get paid to read pre-release books?! I’ve always had the super critical “Grammar Nazi” eye, anyways, so it’s my cup of tea.

Long, long, long before I was an editor, however, I was just a reader. When my mom taught me to read at four years of age I unlocked not just a whole new world, but countless, immeasurable new worlds, just awaiting my exploration.

Next came writing. Now I could create worlds for others to explore with me! How powerful! Magical! Exciting! Most of my first short stories (which I still have somewhere, of course) were knock-offs or parodies of stories we all know—the three little bears and little red riding hood, to name a couple. I even had a whole series going of Winnie the Pooh stories for a while, with all of the same characters, just different names, because copyrights, you know.

Somewhere along the line I volunteered for tribute—eh, a-hem, I mean volunteered to beta read for an author-friend, and that somehow snowballed into a full freelance editing business for me! I have now fully edited all kinds of things, college papers to 400+ page novels, fiction, non-fiction, and whatever we call that genre right in between where it’s kind of like a stretched version of the truth. It’s fun! It’s not for the faint of heart, but it’s really good for me, and I’m so blessed to have been led into this by my Creator. He is the only One who could have guided my paths into the places they are now, believe me!

Anyways. Livy, an author I've done some editing for recently (more from her coming soon!) asked me to write and share some writing tips, I guess from the perspective of an editor (it makes sense; I have read and written a ton!). Without further ado, I give you five quick tips for anyone writing—bloggers, published authors, anyone.

1. Tell the story you want to read.

One thing I wish writers would really stop doing is taking notes on other writings. Yes, read! Artists visit galleries; writers read! Don’t stop reading! But also, never ever pattern your book, plot, characters, voice, style, or anything else after someone else’s versions of the same. Please. We want to read your story. Not your mashup of all of those other stories. Besides, if I’m reading for pleasure, I only re-read one in a hundred books. Reading something once is plenty for me 99% of the time. So if your book is a lot like that other book I already read, what’s the sense in me reading yours? Make it you. Pour yourself on that page and don’t worry with anyone who isn’t interested. The right audience will love it.

Also: I really, really love talking to authors about their personal motive. Sometimes they know their characters better than they know themselves. So, here’s to you, why do you write? God’s glory? Your own? Money? Fame? Watch out and keep your priorities straight!

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Called to Singleness? Is That a Thing?

"So what are your plans?" The peering, leering adult tilts her chin up and her nose down, poising attention stance, ready to pounce in judgement upon whatever answer I can sputter out.

I freeze up. I race through the data bank of career choices in the back of my mind, but the only legible card is Taxi Driver and I'm not quite sure that dream should be shared with the general public. I catch a coughing fit, hoping to buy myself enough time to come up with an acceptable "plan" speech for this nice—albeit strangely curious—cashier lady.

Just in case you are alienated—by years, circumstances, or maybe monastery rules—I will translate for you that any questions to those about 16-20ish years of age about their [*throat clear*] "plans" is a secret code for: "I would ask you what you want to be when you grow up, but you are technically fully grown, at least physically, so what are you going to do with yourself, you oaf?".

Suffice it to say the little game was absolutely 100% more fun when we were all just eight-year-olds and we could decide on big careers without the slightest taste of the sacrifice any of our choices would normally cost. Today if I say "maybe I'll be a doctor", I'm plagued with everything from scholarship applications to science quizzing and enough horror stories on student loans to give any young adult nightmares.

"I... uh... I want to be a wife and homeschool mother. Lord willing. Someday." I finish the last part in a feverish rush, hoping the mumble was intelligible and breathing a silent prayer the stun and shock from such an answer will give me enough time to run before more questions hit.

And it's true! That's my dream job. My lifelong career of choice. And no matter how many arguments they pose at me cynically and skeptically, it will continue to be.

"Poor kid," they mutter to one another under their breaths, "brainwashed homeschooler doesn't know what the world has to offer."

Yeah, I hear you over there. My ears work even if my reasoning process doesn't, I suppose.

One argument to my dreams that actually does uproot my sureness in my calling (sometimes) is this whole idea of "what if you are called to singleness?"

But—but, didn't I kind of just tell you I'm not?? If I had told you I was called to be a doctor so I was in med school, would you have questioned me like "what if you are called to be something besides a doctor?" No? Why would you not question that, but question the call I'm telling you I have? Just because I cannot pursue it actively right now?

"What if God would rather you didn't marry?"

Oh, but kind sir, what if God would rather you not finish your PhD?

Monday, June 12, 2017

The Perpetual Waiting Room of Life

Jane remembers well being 12 years old. She couldn't wait to finish the seventh grade. She couldn't wait to turn 13 and be a real-deal teenager. She couldn't wait to grow up and get married and live happily ever after.

It was only a few years later that Jane met John. They had to wait awhile to court. They had to wait awhile to become engaged. They had to wait awhile for the marriage ceremony.

Then that was done. Now Jane and John could hardly wait for the day they'd become parents! They talked about it constantly—a house full of their future babies was all their anticipation.

But it didn't happen as fast as they thought it could.

It had been two or three years now since the wedding, and still no babies were crying from the nursery.

John started college and it was a long struggling wait to finish his degree. Another wait to find a good job in which to use his degree.

Jane eventually had a baby. Just one. A little girl. Sure, she had so wanted a house full of hungry boys scouring the kitchen for cookies and girls learning to knit and paint in every corner. But this was better than nothing.

She quickly found babies, even one, to be a lot of work! She was always so tired! She found herself waiting anxiously for the day Baby could sleep through the night. When that milestone was reached, she couldn't wait for Baby to learn to use the bathroom! After that, she waited for Baby to learn to dress and clean herself. Then she waited for Baby to learn to read. Jane was excited when they day came because it meant Baby could go to school. Jane waited all summer long for the first day of school to finally get there. And when it did, she was lonely all day without Baby, and she couldn't wait for school to let out that afternoon.

Jane waited for Baby to be old enough for dance lessons. Jane waited for John to get that long-awaited promotion at work. Jane waited the day they could afford to sell the tiny house they had lived in since marriage and finally have something decent. Cars, too, she reasoned.

Jane waited for Baby to learn to get her driver's license, because that meant Jane would no longer have to act as chauffeur to school and dance and all of the other places she had once so wanted Baby to go.

When Baby could drive, Jane waited to hear back from one of the jobs she had applied for. She waited for the interview. She waited for the start date. She waited for the day she could move up, or else out.

She waited for Baby to leave for college, she waited for Baby to find a husband and get married, she waited for Baby to have her own babies.

Jane waited for the day she and her husband could retire so she could finally spend time with her grandkids.

She realized, finally getting around to that trip to see Baby's family, they had waited too long.

These kids didn't know her or John. Baby wasn't a baby anymore. All she had now was to wait to die.

She had spent her life waiting. Always for things that would have happened anyways, whether she had been waiting or not.

Is this you?

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