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Posts from the ‘Writing’ Category

Stretched to the Shape of A Writer

 

I have a confession to make.

I love to read.

That’s probably no surprise, if you know me.

But here’s the thing.

 

Sometimes:

I read about running…instead of running.

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I read about eating healthy…instead of eating healthy.

I read about praying…instead of praying.

 

I read about writing…instead of writing.

 

Anybody with me here? Ever read about how to paint with watercolors instead of actually painting watercolors? Read about forgiving instead of actually forgiving?

Read about traveling instead of actually traveling? Read about building a deck or planting a garden instead of actually building the deck and planting the garden? Read

about simplifying instead of actually simplifying? Read about exercising instead of actually exercising???

 

I read about a subject…then, all too often, it stops right there.

 

On Being a Writer, Ann Kroeker and Charity Singleton Craig’s new book, changed that.

 

You notice that the title of the book is On BEING a Writer, not On DREAMING about Being a Writer. Not On IMAGINING Being a Writer. Not  On THINKING

about Being a Writer.

 

The title is On BEING a Writer.

 

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*****

In 2013, Ann Kroeker and Charity Singleton Craig taught an online writing class. Thankfully, I was one of the students. What started as a writing class became a writing

community.

 

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Over twelve weeks, we journeyed from being strangers to being friends. We moved from reading about one another to caring about one another. It was rare. It was

lovely. It was about being fully present to one another as we journeyed together into the writing life.

 

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Some of us had long been writers. On the other hand, some of us were even reluctant to admit that we were writers. Some of us were burned out in our writing life.

Words were oxygenless, smothered and flat. Some of us were newly-arrived at this writing life. Raw and scared but willing to wonder.

 

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As we wrote our way through that online course, which became this marvelously succinct book, On Being a Writer, all of us moved past thinking about a writing life to

living a life of writing.

 

This book, based off of that class, centers around twelve premises, all of which remind me how to BE a writer. The hows and whys of the writing life are examined but it

doesn’t stop there. Along the way, I read, ponder my identity as a writer, and then actually write, as if I am a real writer. I arrange my days to accommodate my writing

life.

 

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On Being a Writer stretches the shape of my writing, just as it stretches me to be a writer. (This even after I’d been writing more than 90% of my life. This even after I’d

coauthored and published a nonfiction book.) I need the encouraging of this book. It stirs up the memory of the gifts I have and challenges me to be full of the guts and

grit to step into them. It launches me afresh into being a writer. It’s encouraged me to arrange my life is such a way that what I read becomes how I am being. I think t

hat’s a good start which will surely embolden me to do likewise in other arenas. Who knows, maybe I’ll actually plant a garden one of these days.

 

So, I have a confession to make.

 

I am a writer. I read about writing…and then, I write.

 

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What about you?

 

Lane Arnold, 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

What’s next?

 

 

Inevitably, if you write a book, people ask what you’re writing next.

Maybe that’s true for anything.

When you get your degree, people ask when you will get another degree.

When you get a job, they ask what kind of work you’d like next.

When you get married, people ask when you’re having a baby.

When you have a baby, they ask when you’ll have more.

When you rent a house, folks ask when you’re buying one.

When you pen a poem, the neighbors inquire when you’ll write another.

When you create essays, friends wonder when you’ll turn out more.

What’s next seems to be the next question asked.

I should know. I get asked that often these days.

You see, my coauthor Valerie Hess and I wrote a nonfiction book on the physical body and its interplay with our spiritual formation as we follow Christ. (http://lanearnold.co/book)

Next up you wonder?

I’m turning back to writing what was on my heart before I began the nonfiction: a novel.

It’s on the way our lives never turn out how we thought they would because what’s next is always full of shimmer and shine, dry deserts, wit and whimsy, shattering disappointments, long waitings full of jagged edges, and gloriously glistening redemptions.

My turn to ask the question.

What’s next for you?

 

Lane Arnold

© 2013 All Rights reserved.

 

Alert for Betweens

 

Between

This line

And the next

My thoughts burst forth

Like fireworks

Shimmering against

The dark.

 

Between

This line

And the next

I may have strolled around the block

Or down the lane.

I may have stopped and chatted with a friend

Over a cup of Earl Grey tea.

 

Between

This line

And the next

A minute passes

Or an hour

Or a day or two.

 

Between

This line

And the next

A new year begins

Where

Advent whispers,

“Get ready.

Stay alert for the

Betweens.”

 

Between

This line

And the next

Pause with wonder;

Ponder with hope:

Long ago

Today

And

One Forever day

Christ comes

Offering,

Inviting

Life to the full.

 

Between

This line

And the next

Remember:

Who was

Who is

Who is to come.

 

Between

This line

And the next

Watch and wait

With me

For splendor.

 

 

 

Lane M. Arnold

December 1, 2012

 

The Habit of Poetry

 

“I want to be a better writer, so I try to read a poem a day,” says L. L. Barkat.

I agree. Reading poetry changes how I look at words and how I write them. It’s like the interplay of chocolate and oranges: rich, juicy, tart, and unexpected.

Poetry came into my life early: nursery rhymes from the crib forward, poems memorized in elementary school, and the sappy love poems read in my teenage years. Then there was a wonderful elementary teacher who got me started on writing poems. After that, poems came in through the front door, by the window, on the back porch…from just about from every angle of my life.

Looking back, I don’t suppose I really thought I’d keep up the habit of reading poetry, or writing it, for that matter, yet I have.  I’m glad I’ve done so.

It’s a small habit over these almost six decades of life. Little things, done often, add up to a rich, juicy, tart, and unexpected life.

What small habit might you adopt today that would enrich your life from here forward?

 

Lane M. Arnold

 

 

 

 

Legal literacy

Copyright © 2012 Lane M. Arnold. The word content on this page is the sole property of the author and may not be used or reproduced in any manner without consent. All Rights Reserved.

Fresh Fiction Fritters (or any other creative endeavor, for that matter)

Whisk together one part hope and one part dream over a long space of desire. Mix them until fluffy and light. Marinade mixture in an aromatic infusion of creativity, whimsy, and delight. At this point, you should notice that the concoction hints of essence of characters and plot, but may need a bit more combining to create a strong story flavor.

In the meantime, thoroughly sift time and energy into a spacious rhythm of consistent presence. (Aim to keep this spacious rather than frantic as you go forward.) Drop the batter by rounded tablespoons into a skillet of determination oil. It will sizzle. If it doesn’t, you may need to get the determination oil hotter by adding in a hearty heaping of work oil. If the mixture seems sloshy with little to no substance to it, use a colander of discipline to drain off distractions.  Add a daily gallon of saying no to other things and at least a bushel of sitting in one spot for longer than thought possible. Discard the frivolous but keep a handy stash of playfulness nearby.

Continue to stir the plot until a recognizable story emerges, alongside characters as authentic as the headache they are causing. At this point, the mixture should begin to feel lumpy and heavy. It won’t look appealing or delectable, or, for that matter, like anything you had hoped it might. The tendency is to simply slop it all in the disposal.

Do not do so. Immediately call your most encouraging creatively minded friend. In case of dire emergency, call in more than one. It is their role to cheer you on when you are jeering at these impossible characters who seem to have developed lives of their own. If you have wise creative types in your midst, they will remind you of your original romantically minded ideals and will kindly, but bluntly, egg you on. Just get on with it. It’s up to you to gain some mastery over this mayhem, they’ll insist.

It seemed easier when you were full of vim and vigor. Don’t despair. The truest seasonings come now, as you firm up the edges of these plots, and their errant runners, the subplots. The scarcity of good story concoctions occurs because characters are often flatter than the proverbial pancake and full of lumps too large to swallow. It is now that the slotted editoral-spoon is best used. This allows all unnecessary additives to be swiftly sifted out and purer truer ingredients added back in.

Though you are long past the pleasure of creating, you are almost done. (If I told you how far you still had to go, you’d quit for sure.)

All that remains is to brand yourself, land yourself the honorable agent and noble publisher, and market yourself by creating a stunning platform for a tribe to stand on who will eagerly nibble at every word you’ve created. The platform, by the way, stands geographically in two lands: Social Media Villages (Blog, Twitter, Facebook, oh my!) and Speaking Biosphere. At this point, it is vital that you do one of the following as soon as possible: adopt a twenty-something year old who easily speaks geek-ese, grow some serious IT abilities of your own, or plan on spending some of your yet-to-be-seen profit on investing in a technology guru. Additionally, if your knees are knocking at the thought of talking about how you created this delicacy, you might as well hire a speaking and presentation coach, who will undoubtedly suggest that you also invest in a professional photographer who will make you look far better than even your closest friends knew possible.

What you long for right now is to go sit on some distant beach, large frothy goodness cooling in your hands, while waves whisk away your weariness. Let that dream go, at least for now, for it’s time to offer your delicious fiction fritters as appetizers, in bite-size pieces, to the audience you’re aiming to entice. Yes, it’s time to enter Blog World.

You open the book to blog your way along for release date rapidly approaches. You turn page after page, amazed at the coherence and colorfulness within. You shut the book, look again at the author’s photograph and name on the cover, and shake your head in utter relief and delight.

It is at that moment that a soft breeze floats by. You drift off to that island you’ve not made it to yet. The scent of a new flavor wafts in your head. And slowly, you whisk together one part hope and one part dream, heading off again to make fiction fritters.

 

Of historic note: Fiction can be traced back through generations through the genealogy of Story. Amid chaos, creativity sparkled, then was declared mighty good. To tell a story, written or oral, requires an imaginative suspension of time and space dimensions in order to enter fully into the unexpected moments brought on by the ingredients of surprise and delight. In order to create the best story, or any other creative endeavor for that matter, use the generous gifts given and the gritty gifts developed, seasoning it all well with deep, raw, real flavors of your life.

 

Lane M. Arnold

© August 2012